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How to root your Android phone or tablet in 2017 (and unroot it)

Is the allure of being a superuser tempting you? Android rooting opens up a world of possibility, but it can also void your warranty, or even leave you with a bricked device. Yes, when it comes to rooting your Android, you’ll want to know the benefits as well as the risks.

More25 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Manufacturers and carriers have a vested interest in dissuading you from rooting. The act of rooting can be inherently dangerous. Even so, for the careful user, the risk is minimal, and the potential benefits are well worth it. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps to root your phone. Some devices can be rooted in minutes. Others take a little research. One thing is clear: rooting your phone can be one of the best ways to tap into the deep potential of your Android device.

What is rooting?

Rooting is jailbreaking for Androids, and allows users to dive deeper into a phone’s sub-system. Essentially, it’ll allow you to access the entire operating system and customize just about anything on your Android. With root access, you can also get around any restrictions that your manufacturer or carrier may have applied. You can run more apps, you can overclock or underclock your processor, and you can replace the firmware.

The process requires users to back up current software and flash (install) a new custom ROM (modified version of Android).

Why would you root?

sony unlock

One of the most obvious incentives to root your Android device is to rid yourself of the bloatware that’s impossible to uninstall. You’ll be able to set up wireless tethering, even if it has been disabled by default. Additional benefits include the ability to install special apps and flash custom ROMs, each of which can add extra features and streamline your phone or tablet’s performance. A lot of people are tempted by the ability to completely customize the look of their phones. You can also manually accept or deny app permissions.

You won’t find a lot of amazing must-have apps when you root, but there are enough to make it worthwhile. For example, some apps allow you to automatically back up all of your apps and their data, completely block advertisements, create secure tunnels to the Internet, overclock your processor, or make your device a wireless hotspot.

Why wouldn’t you root?

There are essentially three potential cons to rooting your Android.

  • Voiding your warranty: Some manufacturers or carriers will use rooting as an excuse to void your warranty. It’s worth keeping in mind that you can always unroot. If you need to send the device back for repair, simply flash the original backup ROM you made and no one will ever know that it was rooted.
  • Bricking your phone: Whenever you tamper too much, you run at least a small risk of bricking your device. The obvious way to avoid it happening is to follow instructions carefully. Make sure that the guide you are following works for your device and that any custom ROM you flash is designed specifically for it. If you do your research and pay attention to feedback from others, bricking should never occur.
  • Security risks: Rooting may introduce some security risks. Depending on what services or apps you use on your device, rooting could create a security vulnerability. For example, Google refuses to support the Google Wallet service for rooted devices.

How to prepare your Android device for rooting

Samsung Galaxy S5 Screen Settings

Three rooting programs that have garnered some attention in the past few months — TowelrootKingo Root, and KingRoot. They will root your device in the time it takes to brush your teeth. However, these rooting programs are only compatible with Android devices running something earlier than Android 5.1 Lollipop. For example, King Root claims it will root more than 100,000 devices, and even some running Android 5.0, but the majority of newer devices running Android 5.1 and higher don’t make the list.

Here’s Kingo’s list of compatible devices, and the following links by manufacturer are what KingRoot can handle:

If you’re looking to root newer phones running Android 5.1 or higher, like the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S7, the above methods will not work. While they might have worked on Android 5.0, Android 5.1 is a completely different story, since a modified kernel needs to be flashed in order to achieve root. The kernel is the core of the operating system and it controls the hardware. Android cannot run without it.

We have instructions below for rooting a Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge running Android 5.1 or 6.0, as well as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge running Marshmallow. You’ll also find instructions for rooting Nexus devices running Marshmallow.

The bottom line is that you will see many developers touting how their one-click tool takes care of all Android devices, but there simply is no such tool.

If your phone is not compatible with either of the above applications, you’ll have to spend a little time researching ways to root on Android forums. The best place to start is XDA Developers Forum. Look for a thread on your specific device and you’re sure to find a method that has worked for other people. It’s worth spending some time researching the right method for your device.

Preparation for root

Back up everything that’s important to you before you start. You should also always back up your current ROM before you flash a new one.

More: How to back up your Android to your PC

You’ll want to ensure that your device is fully charged before you begin.

You’ll also need to turn on USB debugging, as well as OEM Unlocking.

Open Settings on your device. If  you do not see Developer Options toward the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them.

  1. Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
  2. Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
  3. Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
  4. Tap on Developer Options.
  5. Check to enable USB Debugging.
  6. Check to enable OEM Unlocking.

Installing the Android SDK tools

Some Android rooting methods require you to install ADB and Fastboot. Follow our instructions here to download and install them.

Unlock your bootloader

Before you get started, You will also need to unlock your bootloader. Bootloader is a program that determines which applications will run in your phone’s startup process.

Unlocking your bootloader will allow you to customize your device. Manufacturers have responded to a demand for customization. Many of them have provided methods to help you unlock the bootloader on their website, though they are generally provided for developers, and they usually require you to sign up or register an account first.

Some manufacturers and carriers don’t allow bootloader unlocking, but you can often find a way around that with some searching (try the XDA Developers forum).

How to root your Android device with Towelroot

One of the easiest methods of rooting is through Towelroot. This option works on most Android devices — It was designed to root the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S5 — but not all of them. Specifically some Motorola and HTC devices won’t work with this method. Unlike other rooting programs that require downloading and running a program on your computer, Towelroot will root your device by simply downloading and running the app. No computer needed. However, Towelroot will only work with devices that have a kernel bill date earlier than June 3, 2014.

towelroot

To use Towelroot, you’ll have to enable your device to install apps from unknown sources. This can be accessed by clicking on Settings > Security > Unknown Sources. Now you’ll be able to download apps from outside the Google Play store.

Now go to Towelroot in your phone’s browser ,and click on the Lambda symbol. For more information, check out Gadget Hacks’ YouTube video.

How to use Kingo Android Root

Kingo Root can be used on a Windows based computer or directly on your Android device using the app.

First, check to see if your device is compatible with Kingo. Their site provides a list of compatible devices.

Then, download Kingo Android Root for Windows or download the Kingo Android Root APK to install directly on your Android device.

If you have selected to use the Windows software, make sure to enable the USB debugging mode on your phone.

Kinga Android Root

Once you’ve enabled USB debugging on your device, run the program on your PC and connect your Android to your PC with a USB cord. The program should detect your device and a message asking if you’d like to root will appear. Select “root” and then hang tight. Kingo will only take a few minutes to grant super user privileges.

If you would rather try rooting your device without a computer, then follow the instructions below:

  • Install the Kingo Root APK (linked above).
  • Open the Kingo Root app.
  • You will see One Click Root if your device is compatible. Tap on it.
  • Be patient, because it can take a while.
  • If successful, you will see a large check mark with the words Root successfully below it.

How to root your Android device using KingRoot

Just like Kingo Root, KingRoot can be used to root your device from a Windows desktop or directly on your phone or tablet using an app.

With over 100,000 supported devices, there’s a good chance KingRoot will work on your Android phone or tablet. Use the links below to find out if your device is compatible.

You can download the Windows software here or the Android APK here. We recommend using the Android app tool, since it’s so much easier. After you have installed the APK file, just follow the instructions below:

  • Open the KingRoot app
  • You will see Try to Root if your device is compatible. Tap on it.
  • Be patient because it can take a while.
  • If successful, you will see a large check mark with the words Root successfully below it.

How to root the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on Android 5.1.1

If you have a Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge running Android 5.1.1, you might have found out that the one click methods in this guide will not get the job done. This is because Google and Samsung made changes in 5.1.1 that require a modified kernel to be flashed in order to root. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one click method available, so it will take a few extra steps.

Note: Rooting your Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge will trip Knox, which means you will not be able to use Samsung Pay.

This method will be successful for most Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge devices, but not the AT&T and Verizon Wireless versions. Those devices have bootloaders that are too secure to unlock.

Here are the model numbers that will work with this method:

Galaxy S6 – SM-G920F, SM-G920I, Korean SM-G920S/SM-G920K/SM-G920L, T-Mobile SM-G920T, Sprint SM-G920P, US Cellular SM-G920R4, Canadian SM-G920W8

Galaxy S6 Edge – SM-G925F, SM-G925I, Korean SM-G925S/SM-G925K/SM-G925L, T-Mobile SM-G925T, Sprint SM-G925P, Canadian SM-G925W8

These devices must be running Android 5.1.1. Do not attempt to root using this method if your device is on any other version or if your model number isn’t listed.

Make sure OEM Unlocking is enabled on your device. Open Settings. If  you do not see Developer Options towards the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them.

  1. Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
  2. Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
  3. Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
  4. Tap on Developer Options.
  5. Check to enable OEM Unlocking.

Below are simple instructions, but you should hit up Max Lee’s post for more detailed info.

  1. Power off your device. Now hold down the Volume Down, Home, and Power buttons together. After about 5 seconds, you will see a warning screen.
  2. Now tap the Volume Up key to put your phone in ODIN download mode.
  3. Download the appropriate root kernel from here.
  4. Download ODIN v3.10.6 from here.
  5. Download the Samsung GalaxyS6/S6Edge USB drivers from here.
  6. Connect your phone to your computer via a microUSB cable.
  7. Run the Odin software and make sure there is a COM number in the blue highlighted box. If not, then your USB drivers are not installed properly.
  8. If everything is a go, Click on AP and select the root kernel that you downloaded earlier.
  9. Click on Start. The process takes about 5 seconds.
  10. You should now see Pass at the top left.
  11. Reboot and you will now see the SuperSU app in the app drawer.

How to root the Galaxy S6,  S6 Edge, and Note 5 running Marshmallow

You can root your Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, or Note 5 running Android Marshmallow, but only certain models. To check your model, open Settings > About Phone and look under Model Number.

The following model numbers can be rooted with this method:

Galaxy S6 – SM-G920F, SM-G920FD, SM-G920L, SM-G920K, SM-G920S

Galaxy S6 Edge – SM-G925F, SM-G925L, SM-G925K, SM-G925S

Galaxy Note 5 – SM-N920C

The following instructions are for devices running Android 6.0.1. Do not attempt to root using this method if your device is on any other version or if your model number isn’t listed.

Note: Rooting your Galaxy S6, S6 Edge or Note 5 will trip Knox, which means you will not be able to use Samsung Pay.

Make sure OEM Unlocking is enabled on your device. Open Settings. If  you do not see Developer Options towards the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them.

  1. Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
  2. Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
  3. Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
  4. Tap on Developer Options.
  5. Check to enable OEM Unlocking.

Now it’s time to achieve root. Below are simple instructions, but you should hit up Max Lee’s post for more detailed info.

  1. Download the appropriate SpaceX Kernel (with tar.md5 extension) for your model from here and save it to your computer. Remember its location.
  2. Download the latest version of ODIN from here (version 3.10.7) to your computer and remember its location.
  3. Download SuperSU version 2.52 Zip file from here. (Do not unzip) to your computer and remember its location.
  4. Download the appropriate TWRP file (with tar.md5 extension) for your model to your computer from here and remember its location.
  5. Download the Samsung USB drivers for your device from here.
  6. Power off your device. Now hold down the Volume Down, Home, and Power buttons together. After about 5 seconds, you will see a warning screen.
  7. Now tap the Volume Up key to put your phone in ODIN download mode.
  8. Connect your phone to your computer via a microUSB cable.
  9. Run the Odin software and make sure there is a COM number in the blue highlighted box. If not, then your USB drivers are not installed properly.
  10. If everything is a go, Click on AP and select the SpaceX Kernel file that you downloaded earlier.
  11. Click on Start. The process could take a few minutes.
  12. You should now see Pass at the top left and the phone will reboot.
  13. After the phone reboots, put it back in Odin mode by following steps 6 and 7 again.
  14. If your phone is disconnected from your computer, connect it back.
  15. Click on AP and choose the TWRP recovery file you downloaded earlier.
  16. Click on Start. The process could take a few minutes.
  17. When finished, your phone will reboot.
  18. Once rebooted, tap on Allow to Allow access to device data so you can copy over files to your phone.
  19. Copy over the SuperSU zip file you downloaded earlier to the root directory on your phone.
  20. Now power off the phone and hold down Volume Up, Home button, and Power buttons together until you see the Samsung logo.
  21. When the logo appears, release only the Power button.
  22. After a few seconds, you should be in TWRP recovery. Now let go of all buttons and tap on Install.
  23. Choose the SuperSU zip file you copied over to your phone and swipe to flash.
  24. Reboot the phone one more time. After the phone reboots, you will now see the SuperSU app in the app drawer. Enjoy root.

How to root the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge running Marshmallow

If you would like to root your Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, we have good news and bad news. If you have an international verison with the Exynos 8890 processor, you’re in luck. However, if your version features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, it has a locked bootloader, and you will not be able to achieve root. This means that if you’re in the U.S., you’re out of luck unless you imported an international model.

Note: Rooting your Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge will trip Knox, which means you will not be able to use Samsung Pay.

You can follow the below instructions to achieve root on your Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge only if you have models SM-G930F (S7) or SM-G935F (S7 Edge). To check your model, open Settings > About Phone and look under Model NumberDo not attempt the following if you have any other model.

Make sure OEM Unlocking is enabled on your device. Open Settings. If  you do not see Developer Options towards the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them.

  1. Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
  2. Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
  3. Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
  4. Tap on Developer Options.
  5. Check to enable OEM Unlocking.

Now it’s time to achieve root. These instructions are courtesy of IB Times.

  1. Download the appropriate Chainfire Auto Root file to your computer – Galaxy S7 (SM-G930F) / Galaxy S7 Edge (SM-G935F).
  2. Extract the Auto Root file on your computer to get a file with a .tar.md5 extension. Remember its location.
  3. Download the latest version of ODIN from here (version 3.10.7).
  4. Download the Samsung GalaxyS7/S7 Edge USB drivers from here.
  5. Power off your device. Now hold down the Volume Down, Home, and Power buttons together. After about 5 seconds, you will see a warning screen.
  6. Now tap the Volume Up key to put your phone in ODIN download mode.
  7. Connect your phone to your computer via a microUSB cable.
  8. Run the Odin software and make sure there is a COM number in the blue highlighted box. If not, then your USB drivers are not installed properly.
  9. If everything is a go, Click on AP and select the Auto Root .tar.md5 file that you downloaded earlier.
  10. Ensure the Auto-reboot and F.Reset Time options are selected in Odin. Uncheck the Repartition button
  11. Click on Start. The process could take a few minutes.
  12. You should now see Pass at the top left and the phone will reboot.
  13. After the phone reboots, you will now see the SuperSU app in the app drawer.

Resources you’ll need after you root

No other mobile operating system parallels the diversity of Android OS. For this reason, there’s no universal way to root your device. If the above options fail, don’t fret. There is likely a guide on how to root your specific device available somewhere online. Generally you can find a guide to your device at places like XDA developers’ forum or the Phandroid Forums.

Once you have found the right guide for your phone or tablet, it’s simply a case of working through the listed steps methodically. It can be a complicated procedure and it can take a while. It can appear intimidating at first glance, but provided you follow it step-by-step, it should be a pain-free process. You can post questions in the XDA Developers forum if you run into trouble.

Download Root Checker

You’ll need to download another app to make sure your device has been successfully rooted. There are several apps available on the Google Play store that, when downloaded, will tell you if you have super-user permission. Root Checker is a popular one. Simply downloading and running the app will tell you if your phone has super-user permissions.

Install a root management app

SuperSu

Rooting will make your phone more vulnerable to security threats. Installing a root management app will give you more peace of mind. Normally, every app that requires rooted privileges will ask for your approval. This is where root management apps, such as SuperSU, come in. SuperSU lets you allow or deny sites’ requests for super user permission. It will then keep track of the permissible apps and automatically grant permission next time you use the app. SuperSU will also keep track of how many times an app requests to root.

How to unroot your Android device

For all the good that is rooting, you may want to go back to the way things were. Whatever method you decide to attempt, make sure that you backup all of your precious data first.

Unroot with SuperSU

SuperSU allows you to unroot phones by simply going into the app’s settings and selecting the full unroot option. It’s a really helpful option.

Unroot with file explorer

You can also unroot by deleting the files that granted the root in the first place. You can use a file explorer app, like ES File Explorer to do this. Turn on Root explorer under Tools in the ES File Explorer menu and grant it root privileges, if asked.

  1. Find your device’s main drive under “/”.
  2. Go to system > bin, then tap and hold on busybox and su and delete them.
  3. Now go to system > xbin, then tap and hold on busybox and su and delete them.
  4. Finally, go to system > app and delete supeuser.apk.
  5. Restart the device and you should be unrooted.

Unroot with OTA update

Sometimes just installing an OTA update will break root. Look for a software update under Settings > About device. Just be careful, as with some root methods it might prove impossible to successfully update. In that case, you may need to flash the original firmware first. You can usually find it on the manufacturer’s website, but you’ll need to find a guide for your device to discover the right way to go about it.

None of the root methods or unrooting methods are without risk, so always back up first, make sure your device is fully charged, read carefully, and take your time.