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With all the different devices out there running different versions of Android, the rooting process can be a little different for every phone. Here’s a one-stop guide that should get you up and running with root access, no matter what device you have.

Rooting, for those of you that don’t know, means giving yourself root permissions on your phone. It’s similar running programs as administrators in Windows, or running a command with sudo in Linux. With a rooted phone, you can run more apps (like backup or tethering apps), as well as flash custom ROMs to your phone, which add all sorts of extra features.

We’re going to keep this guide up to date instead of publishing new guides every time the rooting process changes—it’s one page to bookmark that will always have the latest or best method. It’s a more hefty undertaking, what with all the different Android phones and rooting methods out there, but we’re up to the challenge. Currently there are two main rooting methods that cover most devices, with a few outliers that require more work. To find out which method works for your phone, you can probably just hit Ctrl+F and type in your phone’s name (e.g. hero). If you find your phone isn’t listed, read through the first method, as it’s probably the one you’ll want to use.

Most Android Phones: The SuperOneClick Method

The majority of you will be able to use previously mentioned SuperOneClick for Windows to root your phone. So far, it’s been officially tested on the following phones,even if you’ve updated to 2.3.3 “Gingerbread”:

  • Acer Liquid Metal
  • Dell Streak
  • HTC Magic (Sapphire) 32B
  • HTC Bee
  • T-Mobile Comet (Huawei Ideos U8150)
  • LG Ally
  • LG Optimus 2x
  • LG Optimus V
  • Motorola Backflip
  • Motorola Charm
  • Motorola Cliq
  • Motorola Droid
  • Motorola Droid 2
  • Motorola Droid X Update: Outdated. Sadly, SuperOneClick cannot root the Droid X running Gingerbread, so if you’ve updated to 2.3, you’ll need to downgrade to 2.2 before rooting.
  • Motorola Flipside
  • Motorola Flipout
  • Motorola Milestone
  • Motorola Milestone 2
  • Nexus One
  • Samsung Captivate
  • Samsung Galaxy 551 (GT-I5510)
  • Samsung Galaxy Portal/Spica I5700
  • Samsung Galaxy S 4G
  • Samsung Galaxy S I9000
  • Samsung Galaxy S SCH-I500
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab
  • Samsung Transform M920
  • Samsung Vibrant
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia E51i X8
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
  • Sprint Hero
  • Telus Fascinate
  • Toshiba Folio 100

However, it should work on many more. Forum threads abound on the net where people claim it works with other devices, and they just haven’t been added to the “official” list. With that in mind, I’d recommend checking the incompatibility list here. If you have one of these phones, you’ll want to skip down to the next section:

  • Sprint EVO 4G (HTC Supersonic)
  • Sprint EVO Shift 4G
  • Droid Incredible (HTC Incredible)
  • HTC Desire GSM
  • HTC Desire CDMA (HTC BravoC)
  • HTC Aria
  • Droid Eris (HTC DesireC)
  • HTC Wildfire (HTC Buzz): Outdated. This won’t work if you’ve updated to 2.2; the Unrevoked team is working on an update.
  • T-Mobile G2
  • HTC Inspire 4G
  • T-Mobile MyTouch 4G
  • HTC Thunderbolt
  • Motorola Atrix 4G

If your phone isn’t one of these, SuperOneClick should work. Some of these phones will need the Unrevoked method below, while others have their own sections in this article. Again, just hit Ctrl+F and search for your device’s name on this page. Also, if you want to double check that SuperOneClick will work with your phone, a quick Google (e.g. superoneclick droid x) will probably reveal whether its compatible. If it does work and it isn’t on the compatibility list above, let us know and we’ll add it! (probably 😛 )

What You’ll Need

  • A Windows PC: SuperOneClick has ports for Mac and Linux, but it’s pretty complicated to get it working. I haven’t used it myself, but you can check out its XDA Developers thread for more information. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume you have a working Windows PC to get this working. If you don’t have one, borrow one from a friend—after all, you’ll only need it once.
  • The USB Drivers for Your Phone: If you have a Samsung or Motorola phone, you can download SuperOneClick with the driver pack to get them. Other phones will have to visit their manufacturer’s web site and install them from there before running SuperOneClick.
  • Previously Mentioned SuperOneClick: This is the Windows program that will root your phone. It’s portable, so just download it and unzip it somewhere safe—no installation necessary.

The Process

First, find, download and install the USB drivers for your particular phone, if necessary. You can generally Google for your device’s drivers, but you can just head to your manufacturer’s web site too (e.g., HTC users will head to HTC’s web site) and navigate to your device’s support page. Go ahead and install the drivers once they’re downloaded. Again, Samsung and Motorola users can grab these from SuperOneClick’s driver pack.

Next, make sure your phone is in USB Debugging mode. Head to Settings > Applications > Development and check the USB Debugging box at the top.

Once you’ve done all that, start up SuperOneClick. Plug in your phone (make sure NOT to mount the SD card), and hit the “Root” button to root your phone—it’s that simple. When it finishes, you’ll see a message that says “Root files have been installed!” Hit Yes if it asks you to run a test, and if everything went according to plan, it should confirm that you have root permissions. You can now close out of the app.

To double check and make sure everything went well, when you open up your app drawer you should see an app called “Superuser”. If so, you’re good to go! You can now flash custom ROMs, run root-only apps, and more. See the “What Now?” section below for more ideas.

Certain HTC Phones: The Unrevoked Method

If you’re running an HTC phone, chances are you’ll need to use the Unrevoked tool. More specifically, Unrevoked roots the following phones:

  • Sprint EVO 4G (HTC Supersonic)Update: Oudated. If you’ve updated your Sprint EVO 4G to 2.3 Gingerbread, Unrevoked will not work on your device. Hopefully the Unrevoked team will release an update soon that addresses this.
  • Droid Incredible (HTC Incredible)
  • HTC Desire GSM
  • HTC Desire CDMA (HTC BravoC)
  • HTC Aria Update: Outdated. If you’ve updated to Froyo, that update came with a newly locked bootloader that Unrevoked has yet to put out an update for.
  • Droid Eris (HTC DesireC)
  • HTC Wildfire (HTC Buzz)

If you have an HTC phone that isn’t supported by either method (such as the HTC Thunderbolt, at the time of this writing), Unrevoked may be working on support for it—they’re still actively developing the program and doing a great job. It usually takes them a few months, but once they get it up and running, it’s worth it—Unrevoked’s one click method is a ton easier than the manual hacking you’ll have to do if you want root access right after a phone is released.

What You’ll Need

  • A Computer: Thankfully, Unrevoked is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. So as long as you have a PC handy, you can run it.
  • Previously mentioned Unrevoked3: When you head to Unrevoked’s web site, you’ll see a list of phones. Click on yours, and you’ll probably be presented with two options—for a traditional root, you’ll want to make sure you download the “Unrevoked3” tool, not “Unrevoked Forever.” It will automatically detect your operating system (Windows, Mac, or Linux), so just hit the download link to grab the appropriate version.
  • HBOOT Drivers (Windows only): Windows users using Unrevoked will need to install a few drivers to get it working properly. Mac and Linux versions should be a plug-and-go affair.

The Process:

If you’re running Windows, the first thing you’ll want to do is install the Unrevoked modified USB drivers (Mac and Linux users can skip the next two paragraphs). Download the drivers, and extract them somewhere you’ll remember. Turn off your phone, then reboot into the HBOOT menu by holding the volume down button and then holding power. You should boot into a white screen. Plug your phone into your computer via USB, and wait for your phone to say HBOOT USB PLUG.

When it does, head to Start and search for Device Manager. Start it up and head to “Other Devices”, where you’ll see an “Android 1.0” device. Right click on it and hit Update Driver Software. Click “Browse my computer for driver software” and navigate to the folder you extracted earlier. Hit next and let it install. If you get any warnings, just hit OK. When you’re done, and you should see the Device Manager now lists an Android Phone with “Android Bootloader Interface” under it.

Next, make sure your phone is in USB Debugging mode. Head to Settings > Applications > Development and check the USB Debugging box at the top.

Now, start up the Unrevoked tool and plug in your phone (again, make sure to hit “charge only”). It should do everything for you automatically. Make sure you wait until Unrevoked says “Done” before unplugging your phone. If you open up your app drawer and see an app called “Superuser Permissions”, you’re done and can continue to flash custom ROMs, use root only apps, and more (see the “What Now?” section for more inspiration).

Rooting the T-Mobile (HTC) G2 and HTC Desire Z

The G2 is a special case. You’re going to need to use a tool called Visionary to give it temporary root, and then go through a bit of manual hacking to make that root permanent. None of the Lifehacker editors have a G2 to test this on, but we’ve taken these instructions from the Android rooters extraordinaire over at XDA Developers, as well as the below video from The Unlocker.

Note that the Desire Z got an update back in December that stops this method from working. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no other method to root the Desire Z running the 1.72 firmware. You’ll have to downgrade using this extremely involved method before going through the rooting process. I’m not going to get into it here because it’s very long and tricky, and I don’t have a phone to follow along with. Plus it would also make this guide an ungodly size for one outlier. If you have a G2, you should be fine.

What You’ll Need

  • Visionary: This is the app that will temproot your phone. You’ll need to go through a slightly longer process, but this is pretty much all you need to start out—no PC necessary!
  • Android Terminal Emulator: The second half of this method requires a bit of manual hacking, so you’ll need a terminal app on your phone. This one should work well.

The Process

To start, head into Settings > Applications > Development and check the USB Debugging box. Also be sure to check the Unknown Sources box in Settings > Applications.

Then, head to Visionary’s download page, download and install it to your phone. Once installed, start it up and check the “Temp Root After Reboot” and “System R/W After Root” boxes. Then hit the “TempRoot Now” button. Wait until it finishes, and check your app drawer. If you see “Superuser” listed among your apps, you’ve achieved temporary root!

Next, we need to turn that temporary root into a permanent root. This is going to require a bit of manual terminal work, but nothing too difficult. Head to XDA forum thread and download the attached rooting files. You’ll need an account at XDA, but trust me, you want one. You’ll use it more than you think. You can either download it to your PC and transfer them to your phone, or download them straight to your phone. Just make sure you don’t reboot your phone (or you’ll lose your temproot), and make sure to extract the zip file to the root of your SD card. When you’re done, you should have a folder caled root_files on the first level of your SD card’s file system.

Next, head to the Market and download your Terminal Emulator. Start it up and type the following commands, hitting enter after each one:

cp /sdcard/root_files/perm_root /data/local/perm_root
chmod 777 /data/local/*

You’ll see the status scroll by as it performs the process. When you’re done, it will return you to a regular terminal prompt. You should now have permanent root, and you can continue on to flash custom ROMs, use root only apps, and more.

Rooting the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G

Rooting the MyTouch 4G is similar to rooting the G2, but with some slightly easier Terminal commands thanks to a script from XDA Developers. Here’s how it works.

What You’ll Need

  • Visionary: This is the app that will temproot your phone in one click, after which you can permanently root it with a script.
  • Root Explorer: This file browser will let you easily run the script that roots your phone. Alternatively, you can use Android Terminal Emulator to run it using the instructions at the XDA thread.

The Process

Install Visionary on your phone and enable USB Debugging in Settings > Applications > Development. Start up Visionary, check the “Temp Root After Reboot” and “System R/W After Root” boxes, then hit the “TempRoot Now” button. Wait until it finishes, and check your app drawer for the “Superuser” app. If it’s there you’ve temporarily rooted your phone, and can continue on to permanently root it.

To permanently root the MyTouch 4G, download these root files and extract them to the root of your phones SD card. Then, open up your Root Explorer and navigate to /sdcard/root on your device. Click on and let it run. After 20 seconds or so, it should finish. Turn your phone off and reboot into your bootloader by holding the volume down and power buttons at the same time. If it says S-OFF at the top of the screen, the script was successful! Reboot into your phone, run Visionary one more time to make the permanent root stick, and you’re all set. You can now proceed to have fun with your newly rooted phone! Hit the link for more info.

Rooting the HTC Inspire 4G

Inspire 4G owners are lucky enough to have a friendly GUI solution for Windows called Simple Root that will help you root your phone. It isn’t a short process, and you’ll also need a Terminal Emulator to get it done, but it will guide you through the process nicely. Before downloading it, though, you’ll want to install HTC Sync. After installing it, you’ll want to uninstall it. Head to Add/Remove Programs and uninstall HTC Sync, but leave the bundled drivers there. Essentially, we’re only using HTC sync to install the necessary drivers—but the program itself can interfere with the Simple Root program, so we’re getting rid of it. Once you’re done with that, you can download and install the rooting program.

Make sure you’ve enabled USB Debugging in Settings > Applications > Development on your phone. The rooting program should guide you through most of the steps nicely. Note that you’ll have to reformat your SD card, since we’ll be creating what’s called a “gold card” to root your phone. So, if there’s anything on there you want to keep, you’ll want to back it up first, because this will erase everything.

To start, take your SD card out of your phone and plug it into your computer (you’ll need an adapter to do this—you don’t want to mount it through your phone). Open up the rooting program and format your SD card through Simple Root under “Step 1”. To do this, select your SD from the list of drives and hit Format.

Plug it back into your phone and go to “Step 3” in Simple Root’s window. Select MMC2 (HTC Inspire), and hit GetCID. Copy that number and head to this page to generate the image file for your SD card (you’ll get it sent to you via email). Once you’ve got the image, head back into Simple Root and hit the Load IMG button under Step 5, navigating to the image file you got in your email.

Take the SD card back out of your phone and plug it into your computer. Make sure it’s selected under the Select MMC line of Step 6 in simple root, then hit Patch MMC. Your SD Card is now a gold card that will help root your phone.

Let Simple Root know you’re done creating the gold card, and when its main window pops up, plug in your phone and hit the “Downgrade, S-OFF, Clockwork, Stock, Root” button. Follow the on screen instructions carefully. You’ll have to enter a few Terminal commands and follow some other steps, but it will guide you through the process the entire way (so we won’t do it here). When you’re done, you should see the Superuser app appear in your app drawer, and you’re ready to have fun with your newly rooted phone. If you have any problems, be sure to check Simple Root’s FAQ and the XDA Developers thread below for more info.

Rooting the HTC Thunderbolt

At the time of this writing, the HTC Thunderbolt has been rooted, and has a somewhat easy rooting solution. It’s for Windows only, and will only work with firmware versions below 1.12.605.9 (Mac users can root, but they’ll have to use the long, complicated method). The Unrevoked team is working on adding it to their list of supported phones, but we’ll likely be into summer by the time that happens. If you can’t wait, this method should work just fine. Start by downloading the very large Easyroot program from this XDA forum thread (you’ll need an account to do so, but trust me, it’s good to have—you’ll likely use it again in the future). I’ve tested this method, and it’s pretty long, arduous, and a little buggy, but it should get you up and rooted with only a little hair-pulling. I’d also recommend reading the PDF of instructions available at the XDA thread, as they’ll help you if you have problems.

The first thing to note is that you have the most updated version of the rooting program. The XDA thread isn’t laid out very well, but you’ll want to download both the large RAR file from under the “Downloads” heading (at the time of this writing, it’s a download from Megaupload). Then, you’ll also want to download the file at the end of the thread. Extract the RAR archive to your desktop, replace the rooter.exe file in it with the one from the zip file, and then run that rooter.exe when it’s time to start.

At any point in the process, the installer might hang or come up with an error. Check the thread for more details, but in a lot of cases, all that’s required is killing the Rooter.exe process, restarting the Easyroot program, and clicking on the step that failed to run it again. Like I said, it’s a little buggy and confusing, but it’s the best we have at the moment.

Before you do so, make sure you’ve installed HTC Sync (to get the Thunderbolt’s drivers installed) and that that USB debugging is enabled in Settings > Applications > Development on your phone. Also note that this will wipe all your data (not your SD card, though), so make a note of any apps you want to re-download when you’re done. Plug in your phone and make sure it’s in “charge only” mode. Open up the Easyroot app and click on Step 1. Wait a few minutes, and it should reboot your phone to a white menu with the Bootloader option highlighted in blue. Hit the power button to head to your bootloader.

After a minute or two, it should load a program and ask you if you want to update. Tell it that you do by pressing the Volume Up button. It will update and then say “Update complete”. Hit the power button to reboot your phone.

Once you’ve booted back up, skip through the phone’s setup options and head back to Settings > Applications > Development to turn USB debugging back on. Then, unplug your phone, and plug it back in. Click Step 2 in the Easyroot program. If you get an error, kill the Rooter.exe process from Windows’ task manager, then restart it and hit Step 2 again.

It will reboot into the white menu again. Highlight the Bootloader option and hit Power again. You’re going to go through the same process you did in Step 1—wait, hit Volume Up to upgrade when prompted, then hit Power to reboot your phone when it says “Update complete”.

Once again, skip through your phone’s setup options and head back into Settings > Applications > Development, turn USB debugging on, unplug your phone, and plug it back in. Click on Step 3 and let it go through its process.

Your phone should reboot when its done. If not, close Rooter.exe and restart it. Click on step 3 again and your phone should restart as expected. Once you’re done, you should have root permissions. Check for the Superuser app in your app drawer to confirm, then head off to the Market to grab ROM Manager or the other root-only goodies you’re looking for.

Rooting the EVO Shift 4G

The EVO Shift 4G is another outlier, but it’s a simple one to root. Just grab this one-click root tool for Windows, plug in your phone, and hit Root. The first time you hit Root, click “No” when it prompts you about HBoot. It will temporarily root your phone, after which you need to reboot your phone and hit the Root button again, this time answering yes.

From there, you can flash a new recovery like ClockworkMod or AmonRA, which will let you make backups, flash ROMs, and do other neat things. You can also do this by downloading ROM Manager from the Market and flashing ClockworkMod from there. Check out the thread at XDA for more info on how it works.

Rooting the Motorola Atrix 4G

While SuperOneClick technically works for the Atrix 4G, it currently installs Busybox which is already on the Atrix. As such, XDA user Ririal has created a script to use the same exploit to root the Atrix 4G without installing Busybox. Your Atrix will need to be running the stock 1.26 version of the software, noot 1.57. If it’s running 1.57, you’ll need to downgrade before running the script. Bell Atrix users will want to follow some slightly different instructions.

Download the GladRoot script here and extract the folder to C:\ (if you extract it anywhere else, it will not work). Head into Settings > Applications > Development on your phone, check the Enable USB Debugging box, and plug your phone into your computer.

Run the gladroot.bat file and follow the on-screen instructions. Then, head into Settings > About Phone > System Updates on your phone and follow the on-screen instructions there as well. It will download the 1.57 update and prompt you to install it. Go ahead and install, and when your phone reboots, verify USB Debugging is still turned on, plug it in, and run afterupdate.bat from the GladRoot directory. Make sure to allow the Superuser request when it pops up on your phone, and you’ll be rooted and running the latest software.

-[via XDA Developers, Megaupload, Youtube]

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