Rooting, Recovery, and ROMs: What it’s all about.

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So you’ve got an android phone.

And you can use the stock operating system with all of the manufacturer’s skinning and apps and versions and keyboard and everything.

Congratulations.

But if you are feeling a bit ballsy, then you can really take your phone to a true mobile computing level.

Here’s the steps to this.

  • Root
  • Install a recovery
  • Find ROMS
  • Make backups
  • Install ROMS
  • Use Wireless Tether

Lets explain what all of this is.

Rooting

Rooting means that you can create a way for apps to get superuser access. This is handy for getting to wifi, modifying files, or installing ROMs.

Recovery

For the Recovery, that will usually be installed when you root the phone. The recovery is where you can make and recover backups of the phone, install ROMs, and a slew of other stuff that might come in handy (but could also kill your phone).

Backup

Once you have the recovery installed (you can’t have the recovery without the root FYI) then the first thing you need to do is make a backup of your phone.

This is pretty easy. Just boot into Recovery (just hold down volume on boot and select recovery when given the option), Select backups, and select make a backup now. Your screen will flash many random things, and no matter how long it takes, don’t force shut it down or take out the battery. It will almost always finish.

ROMs

Once you have a backup of your normal operating system, you can go crazy with other ROMs.

ROM stands for Read Only Memory. In android poweruser terms, it is an operating system that can be installed on the phone using the recovery mode.

You can find many roms on the internet all over the place. XDA-developers is a great place to get ROMs. Sometimes a ROM will even be for the next Android version that htc hasn’t released yet.

When you download a ROM, it will come as an easy to handle zip file. And from here it’s simple.

Plug in your phone to your computer and mount it as a disk drive/USB Mass Storage. Then, just click and drag the ROM from your computer onto the root of the SD card. Eject and unplug the phone, then reboot into recovery.

Select install zip from sdcard and select the name of the file that you moved over. Then, choose the yes among the long list of nos to confirm you really want to install it and whabam, you will be installing a new operating system.

Then, reboot your phone, and you will be with your brand new OS that you yourself downloaded from the internet and installed on your phone.

Unfortunately, this process is different for every android phone. Sometimes there is a one-click root. Sometimes you have to use a command line application to open a port on the phone and install the root like that. But once you have gotten the phone rooted, installing zips is a piece of cake.

Wireless Tether

Aside from installing ROMs, another thing you can do is install and use apps that usually wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t rooted.

The one example I am going to use here is called Wireless Tether. And basically, it’s just that.

You can make your phone into a wi-fi hotspot with no hassle, just using verizon’s mobile hotspot plan. But that will cost you an extra $20 a month and you have a 5 GB limit before you start getting overage fees. Ouch.

With Wireless tether, you can connect unlimited devices, the data comes out of your data plan for your phone, and that also means there’s no overage fees.

Once you are rooted, just search for Wireless Tether in the android market and you will be able to install it on your phone and use it. You can change the SSID of the WiFi network, and you can even enable encryption and a password on your network. In addition, it allows you to use access control, where you can disable a device’s access to the network. Very handy sometimes.

Do it yourself

So that is the whole concept of rooting, recovery, and roms. You can find roms for things using google: Just do a search for “[your phone] 2.3 ROMS” or “[your phone] Cyanogenmod” and you should have plenty of luck. If you want to find out how to root your phone, just do a google search for “[your phone] root” and that should turn up some helpful results.

If you have a rooted droid incredible, click here to learn about the stable and functional gingerbread rom by WeDoDroid.