How to root Android phones and tablets (and unroot them)

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

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Resources you will need after you root, and how to unroot

Arguably no other mobile operating system parallels the diversity of Android OS. For this reason, there is no universal way to root your device. If the above options fail, do not fret. There is likely a guide on how to root your specific device available somewhere online — a few reliable resources include XDA developers’ forum and the Phandroid Forums.

Once you have found the right guide for your phone or tablet, it’s simply a matter of working through the listed steps methodically. It can get complicated, and it might take a while. But provided you follow the guide step by step, it should be a relatively pain-free process.

Download Root Checker

You will need to download an 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 — a telltale sign you have succeeded. Root Checker is a popular one — simply installing and running it will tell you if your phone has super-user permissions.

Install a root management app

SuperSu how to root android

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 benefits you can gain from rooting, you may want to go back to the way things were. Whichever method you attempt, always make sure that you back up your data before making any large changes to your phone.

Unroot with SuperSU

SuperSU allows you to unroot phones with one click. Open the SuperSU app, go to Settings, and scroll all the way to the bottom until you see the Full unroot button. Tap it, hit continue, and the unrooting process will begin.

Unroot with Universal Unroot

Another method is Universal Unroot. It removes root privileges in most Android devices, but it’s not perfect. For starters, most Samsung devices are not compatible, and LG devices will be unrooted, but still show as rooted after the app has worked its magic. It used to be a dollar, but it’s now free since the developers are no longer updating it. But if you’ve got an older device that’s supported, it’s a good way to be sure.

Unroot by flashing stock firmware

One of the most thorough ways to remove root access is by flashing your device with factory firmware. This method will completely wipe your phone or tablet clean of any root traces, but a word of warning: it’s not for the faint of heart.

First, download the factory image for your device to your computer. One again, XDA is a great resource.

Next, unzip the file. You will see another zipped file — unzip that one, too. The unzipped folder should contain a bootloader image, radio, and various scripts, and one more zipped file. Again, unzip that.

The next step involves installing ADB and Fastboot on your computer.

Download and install the Android SDK Platform Tools from Google’s developer site. There are choices for Windows, Mac, and Linux. These instructions are for Windows machines. Extract the zipped files. When asked what directory to install the software to, we recommend that you set it to C:android-sdk. If you choose a different location, make sure you remember it.

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.

Switch back to your computer. Copy boot.img in the folder you unzipped and place it in your ADB folder, C:android-sdk.

Connect your phone to your computer via USB. Open your computer’s command prompt by holding down Shift+Right Click and choosing “Open a Command Prompt Here.” Then, enter these commands:

  1. adb reboot bootloader
  2. fastboot flash boot boot.img
  3. fastboot reboot

Unroot with file explorer

If your phone is running Android Lollipop or older, you can also unroot by deleting the files that granted the root in the first place. We recommend using a file explorer app like ES File Explorer. 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 recover from. In that case, you may need to flash the original firmware first.

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

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