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How to root Android

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How to root Android: Android is an open operating system. This means that not only developers can take its source code and create modified versions, but also that we users can customize the software of our portable devices relying on a very high degree of flexibility. To further increase our freedom of action, we can resort to an unlock procedure, called root , which allows you to bypass all the restrictions that normally prohibit access to the deepest areas of the system.

To put it simply, when you do the root on Android you become 100% “masters” of your device. You can modify the operating system files, you can “push” the performance of the phone by altering its hardware parameters (eg the processor frequency) and you can use applications that normally would not work, such as those that allow you to create full system backups or control the terminal remotely.

The procedure is completely legal but, in most cases, it invalidates the warranty of the phone (or tablet) on which it is applied: it all depends on the policies implemented by the manufacturer. Moreover, you must be careful to follow the specific procedure for your device, in order to avoid the “brick” of the same (ie the temporary or definitive impossibility of using it): unfortunately, there is no standard one, valid for all terminals, precisely because of the huge amount of existing Android devices and variants. In any case, in the course of this guide I will briefly explain the steps you will need to take if you decide to unlock your smartphone or tablet: good reading and good luck for everything!

Rooting Android: Risks and Benefits

The ability to push your Android device beyond the software (but also hardware) limits set by the manufacturer teases you a little and that is why, never before, you are extremely curious to understand how to unlock the root permissions on your device.

Although obtaining high privileges can be an advantage for those who are (or want to become) a “geek” and customize their device to the highest levels, it is right to be aware that the root procedure is not always immediate – in reality , it almost never is – and that it requires time , patience but above all great attention and precision . In fact, a single mistake in any step is enough to completely block the device, rendering it unusable .

Furthermore, unlocking the root privileges of a device could invalidate its warranty (at the discretion of the manufacturer’s use policy) but, above all, makes it vulnerable in terms of security . Since the procedure involves the unlocking of extremely delicate parts of the operating system, a tap performed carelessly is sufficient to allow an app, even unconsciously, to access or alter delicate parts of the memory, which could contain sensitive data or, in the worst case, safety information.

Another potential consequence of the root procedure is to increase the chances of contracting malware such as spyware , trojans , adware , viruses or, even worse, ransomware that are extremely difficult to eradicate: these elements could lead to very unpleasant consequences, including the obligation to reset your device or, even worse, irretrievable loss of stored data.

Still talking about data, it is good that you are aware that the root procedure almost always involves formatting the Android memory: as you will soon discover, this is a direct consequence of unlocking the bootloader , which cannot be bypassed in any way. way.

In light of what you have learned, put on the scale what are the risks and benefits coming from the root and carefully evaluate if the procedure is right for you; finally, if you have little experience with the world of Android, my advice is to get the assistance of a person who is more knowledgeable on the subject, at least the first time: this will certainly reduce the chances of running into problems caused by distraction, inexperience or , even worse, haste.

Root dictionary

How to root Android

Again, before moving on to practice, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some specific terms, related to root on Android: therefore, take a few minutes of free time and read this short dictionary of the root, if we want to call it so.

  • Root – technically, the root allows you to use Android with administrator privileges. This, as mentioned previously, allows you to have access to system areas that are normally inaccessible and therefore offers the possibility of using functions and apps that users with standard privileges cannot use.
  • ROM – are the modified versions of Android that developers “cook” and make available to the public. They are almost always provided with root privileges already unlocked and can contain various customizations, such as software optimizations to make the device go faster or graphic themes other than the default Android one. You have to be very careful to download one suitable for your device.
  • Bootloader – is the software that starts as soon as you turn on your smartphone (or tablet) and provides the device with the instructions necessary to start the operating system, i.e. Android. It is usually locked and does not allow the installation of custom ROMs or Recovery, so you must unlock it through a procedure that we will analyze a little later. Careful: unlocking the bootloader invalidates the warranty of the device and deletes all apps and data saved on it.
  • Recovery – is a software that allows you to perform various system operations, such as the installation of ROMs or backups of Android devices. The one present “standard” on smartphones and tablets on the market is very limited, so you have to install an alternative one (another topic that we will deal with in a few lines).
  • Kernel – the kernel is the heart of Android (as well as any other operating system), the one that manages the communication between software and hardware. It is possible to install custom ones to increase the performance of the device but it is quite a risky operation for the stability of the system.
  • Radio – is that part of the firmware that takes care of communicating the device software with the hardware linked to the Wi-Fi connection, the data network, the voice line and the GPS. There are custom versions available on the Internet that should increase network performance, but even then these are high-risk changes.
  • Gapps – Android custom ROMs, for reasons of rights, cannot contain Google applications (Play Store, Gmail etc.). To fill this gap, a package called Gapps can be downloaded from the Internet, which contains them all.
  • Flash – “flash” is a term that is used as a synonym for “install” when it comes to inserting an Android ROM, a kernel or a Recovery on your device. It therefore means installing a customized version of Android, a Recovery or a kernel on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Nandroid – is a complete backup of the terminal containing apps, data and settings. It can only be done after installing an alternative Recovery.
  • ADB – acronym for Android Debug Bridge , is a software that allows you to communicate with Android devices from the PC via the command line. It is part of the Android SDK, i.e. the official package that contains all the tools for Android developers, and its presence is essential in the root procedure of many devices.
  • Magisk / SuperSU – are the software that, once rooted, allow you to manage the permissions of the various applications. In fact, you will be able to decide which apps will be able to access the system using root permissions (therefore administrator privileges) and which not, by means of convenient warnings that will appear on the screen when you try to run them.
  • Fastboot – is an Android boot mode that allows you to edit system files when the device is connected to a computer via USB cable. To activate it, you must turn off the terminal and press the Powerand keys at the same time Volume -, or act from the Command Prompt, via ADB.
  • Recovery mode – boot mode that allows you to access the Recovery. On some devices it is called up by pressing Volume +and Power, on others by pressing Volume -and Powerthen selecting the option Recoveryfrom the menu that opens.
  • USB Debugging – is a way to connect Android to your computer via USB cable required by most root software. To activate it, you need to go to the Android settings, select the item Info sul telefonoand press the wording Numero buildseven consecutive times in order to bring up the menu Opzioni sviluppoin which the USB debugging function is located.

How to root Android

How to root Android

After going through a brief but concise overview of the theoretical part, it’s time to show you, in practice, how to root Android . I have already told you, in the opening bars of this guide, that each device has its own procedure and that it is not always possible to apply “standard” methods, which allow you to achieve the desired result.

However, the sequence of actions to be carried out is always the same (although the ways in which they are carried out can vary profoundly from one device to another) and, in almost all cases, requires the availability of a computer . Either way, let me point you to the generally applicable “guidelines”.

First of all, you need to prepare the PC from which to act, by downloading three essential elements: ADB , the official Android utility that allows you to issue commands from your computer; Fastboot , another official tool capable of making changes to the boot area of ​​the smartphone or tablet operating system; and, finally, the complete drivers of the device in question, so that it is recognized in all the necessary ways (ADB, Fastboot, external storage, etc.).

Once the download and installation of the software listed above is completed, you must activate the USB debugging mode on the device, so that it can be controlled from the command line and, subsequently, proceed with the unlocking of the bootloader , in order to allow the installation of a customized Recovery, essential to unlock root permissions.

Unfortunately, not all bootloader unlocking procedures are immediate: many of them (such as those dedicated to Sony , Motorola and some Xiaomi devices ), in fact, require authorization from the device manufacturer, after obtaining a code, the which could be provided even days after the request. Some smartphones, such as those of the Android One line , however, allow you to unlock the bootloader in Fastboot mode, by activating a specific option in the development menu.

However, I remind you that the aforementioned operation involves the complete loss of the data stored in the memory: for this reason, before proceeding, make a preliminary backup of the same.

Once the bootloader has been unlocked, it is necessary to install a customized Recovery , and then download the app to enable root permissions and flash it through the Recovery itself. Once this phase is also completed, just restart the device to take advantage of root permissions.

To provide you with an even more precise idea of ​​how to obtain root permissions on Android, I can explain how to act on a specific model of smartphone in my equipment, precisely the Xiaomi Mi A1 , from the Windows operating system , using the TWRP Recovery and the Magisk root app .

The Xiaomi Mi A1, if you had never heard of it, is a phone belonging to the Android One line , that is, those devices whose bootloader can be unlocked in a few seconds, directly with Fastboot; the procedure can also be easily replicated on other smartphones of the Android One line and on devices of the Pixel family, with the exception of some small structural details, such as the installation of the specific drivers for the device and the download of the exact version of TWRP

Preparing the computer

How to root Android

The first step to take is to prepare the PC from which to act, by downloading the ADB and Fastboot tools on it : the latter allow you to operate, respectively, on Android and on the boot area of ​​the device via the Command Prompt.

Both software are incorporated into the Android Studio development suite but, for simplicity, I have chosen to use a basic version of the same, available on the XDA forum: therefore go to this web page , click on the Download version XXX Portable link and press the buttons Click Here to Start Download and Primary Download , visible on the next page, to obtain the compressed archive.

Once the package has been downloaded, extract it in a folder of your choice, easy to reach and remember (and possibly without spaces): you will need it soon.

Now, in order to avoid problems in the action phase, it is recommended to have the specific Fastboot drivers for the device in your possession: generally, this result can be obtained by downloading and installing the official management / diagnostic software of the smartphone or tablet. In my case, just download the official Mi Unlock tool and set it to install device drivers.

So, open this website and click on the Download Mi Unlock button to start downloading the package containing the necessary program; subsequently, extract the compressed archive in the folder you prefer, open it and start the miflash_unlock.exe file that resides inside it.

When you reach the welcome screen of the program, click on the Agree button to accept the terms of use, then click on the gear icon located at the top right and then on the Check button , placed in correspondence with the wording Click the button to install the driver , to start installing the Fastboot drivers.

Finally, click the Yes button twice consecutively and, when you see the Connect device again message , connect the smartphone to the PC using the USB cable . Finally, wait for the drivers to be completely installed, click on the Close button and close the Mi Unlock window.

Unlocking the bootloader

How to root Android

In order to start operating on the device via the computer in ADB and Fastboot mode, you need to enable the Android development options and, from within them, USB debugging . To proceed, tap on the gear symbol located on the Home screen or in the drawer of the device, to open the Android Settings , tap the System and Phone Information items and tap the word Build number seven consecutive times , until you see a message notifying you that you have become a developer .

Now, return to the previous menu, reach the Advanced> Development options sections and move the lever next to the USB debugging item to ON , responding affirmatively to the next warning.

At this point, you are ready to unlock the bootloader : since we are acting on a smartphone on the Android One line, you will not have to request any code, but simply prepare the device for unlocking via Fastboot. To do this, always from the Development Options menu , move the lever corresponding to the OEM Unlock item to ON and, aware that this operation involves the deactivation of some advanced system protection mechanisms, respond in the affirmative to the warning you receive proposed.

Now, keeping the phone connected to the computer, open the ADB / Fastboot folder you extracted earlier, click on the executable file cmd-here and enter, within the Command Prompt window that opens, the instruction adb devicesand press Enter : following this operation, an authorization request should appear on the Android screen.

When this happens, put the check mark next to Always allow from this computer and touch the OK button , to provide the necessary permissions; now, go back to the Command Prompt window open on your computer, type the command again adb devicesand verify that the device is accessible (in correspondence with its ID, you should see the word device ).

Now, to access the Android bootloader, type the command adb reboot bootloaderand enter : after a few seconds, the connected device should reboot and display the bootloader. When this happens, issue the command fastboot devicesand check that the smartphone or tablet has been correctly recognized.

If the verification is positive, you can proceed with unlocking the bootloader: aware that this operation will result in the complete loss of the data on the device, now type the command fastboot oem unlockand press Enter : following this operation, the smartphone (or the tablet) should reboot several times and start the memory reset .

This could take a few minutes, and the same thing could happen on boot immediately following the reset – don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. I also warn you that, before each future boot, you may see a worrying warning message regarding the potential dangers associated with unlocking the bootloader.

In any case, when Android becomes available again, it carries out the initial configuration of the device and activates the development options and USB debugging again , as done just now. Don’t close the Command Prompt window yet and don’t disconnect your device from your PC, you’ll need them soon.

Recovery installation

How to root Android

After unlocking the bootloader, you are ready to install the customized Recovery: personally, I recommend the TWRP , an excellent Recovery with an interface suitable even for less experienced users, with touch-screen support and updated on a regular basis.

To obtain it, connected to its Home Page, click on the Devices item located at the top and use the following pages to indicate the brand and model of your device; to speed things up, you can use the search field visible at the top. Be careful, this is a very delicate phase: downloading and flashing a file unsuitable for your device can irremediably compromise its operation.

In any case, once you have reached the download page of the correct version of TWRP, click on the Primary (Europe) button visible in the Download Links box and use the links available on the next page to download the most recent ROM file, in .img format . Once the download is complete, copy the file obtained in the ADB / Fastboot folder .

Once this operation is complete, call up the Command Prompt you previously opened and check that the Android device is still connected by typing the command adb devices; if asked, re-authorizes the communication between the two devices, answering affirmatively to the warning that appears on the smartphone or tablet display.

Once this is done, issue the command adb reboot bootloaderto access the Android Fastboot mode, verify that the device has been recognized, using the command fastboot devicesand identify the active partition , issuing the command fastboot getvar current-slot: the Recovery must be installed on the one that is not . Therefore, if the result of the previous command is of the type current-slot: b , you will have to work on partition a .

So, assuming that partition a is the one currently not active, type the command fastboot flash boot_a nomefile.img, replacing filename.img with the name of the Recovery TWRP downloaded a little while ago (e.g. twrp-3.5.0_9-0-tissot.img) and press Enter , to copy the Recovery into the appropriate memory area. Now, to make the device boot from the same, set the partition you operated on as active, using the command fastboot set_active a(or b, as the case may be).

How to root Android

Finally, take your smartphone or tablet, press and hold the Volume + key and, at the same time, type the command fastboot rebootin the Command Prompt: if everything went well, after a few seconds, the Android screen should display the screen welcome of TWRP.

When this happens, tap the Select Language button , check the box next to the language you want to use (presumably Italian ), touch the OK button and put the check mark next to the item Do not show this screen again at startup . Finally, tap the Keep Read Only button and that’s it: you can finally use Recovery to get root permissions.

At this point, you can safely close the Command Prompt window, but do not disconnect the phone / tablet from the PC yet: you will have to use the latter to transfer the file used to unlock root permissions to the Android devie.

Installing Magisk and getting root

Installing Magisk and getting root

Don’t give up, it’s almost done: you just have to download the app that allows you to get the root and flash it via the newly installed Recovery. So, tap the Mount button , located on the TWRP screen , put the check mark next to the Data folder and touch the Enable MTP mode button , to ensure that the computer is able to access the phone’s internal memory.

Now, go back to your PC and download Magisk , the application I chose to unlock root permissions: then open this website , click on the Magisk-vxx.zip link visible in the Assets box and, once the file has been downloaded, copy it to the Android internal memory. You can access the latter by starting the File Explorer and going to This PC> [device name]> Internal storage .

A copy ended, returns to Android, tap the button Disable MTP resident in the TWRP screen and returns back , by tapping on the symbol of the triangle residing on the bottom left, to redisplay the main Recovery screen. If you wish, you can disconnect the Android device from the computer.

Now, tap on the Install button , then on the name of the archive copied just now (eg Magisk-v21.4.zip ) and, after selecting the box next to Restart after the installation is completed , swipe left to right on the Slide to Install bar . Following this operation, the Magisk file will be flashed and, if successful, the Android device will restart automatically.

Finally there it is: on the next boot, you should have obtained root permissions. To verify the correct success of the procedure, download the Root Checker app from the store of your device and start it: the request for the use of root permissions, which should be made by the application, is synonymous with success!

How to root Android without PC

How to root Android without PC

The procedure that I have shown you in the course of this guide, to avoid errors, should allow you to unlock root permissions in almost all cases. However, if you don’t have a computer available, you should know that in some cases it is possible to root Android without a PC , using a series of third-party apps designed for the purpose, within a few taps.

However, I do not recommend you to go down this path, mainly for two reasons: the first is that such applications are not available on the Play Store or on other “official” markets, but should be downloaded from third-party websites and often of dubious seriousness. , therefore it is not possible for me to give you guarantees regarding the security and integrity of the files in question.

Secondly, the one-tap root procedure is not always successful: it all depends first of all on the brand and model of the device in your possession, on the presence or absence of advanced system protections and, above all, on the version of Android in use. and the partition scheme applied by it: take this into account.

This is not true, however, for well-known apps such as Magisk Manager : the latter, in fact, can be used to flash the Magisk file on Android, in a single tap. However, for the procedure to be successful, it is essential that the bootloader of the device has already been unlocked and that there is a customized Recovery on it: to satisfy these conditions, as you have discovered previously, the computer use.