Help me root my Droid!
May 23, 2010 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I think I'm ready to take the plunge and root my Motorola Droid to install a custom ROM. But I still have a few niggling questions.

I have a Moto Droid (in the US) running Android 2.1 and I'd like to root it -- I like the fast paced development cycle of the custom ROMs I've been looking at, and they really seem feature rich and nice. I was thinking of following this guide, which is what a lot of other places have been pointing to. My questions aren't really related to that guide in particular, but are more general:
- First, is there any reason (other than the potential for bricking my phone, which is obvious) that I shouldn't go ahead with this?
- Is there a way to backup my phone before trying to root it? Most of the backup solutions I've seen require root access before you can use them.
- Presumably, all my apps and other information won't be there any more after I'm done rooting. Will I have to re-download the apps manually when my phone is rooted, or will that happen automatically? Same for contacts and stuff, I guess.
- What ROMs are good for the Droid? I've heard good things about Cyanogen (relatively recently ported to the Droid) and Bugless Beast. Any other recommendations? And where can I find guides to help install those for the Droid (i.e., the Cyanogen wiki hasn't been updated in a while and has no Droid information on it whatsoever)?
- What interesting apps can I use once I have root access?

Thanks hive mind!
posted by malthas to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've considered rooting my Droid, but Android 2.2 is (allegedly) coming to the Motorola Droid in June, so I'm waiting, especially since I've not yet seen the killer app to warrant rooting it.
posted by JMOZ at 12:44 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ditto. The most common reasons given for rooting an Android phone (saving apps to the SD card, tethering/wifi-hotspot) are coming with the 2.2 update. Was there something specific you wanted out of it? Or just the joy that comes from opening something up and tinkering with it (which, I grant you, is a joy)?

If you've not been already, you probably want to go to Androidforums.
posted by K.P. at 5:54 PM on May 23, 2010

I asked a similar question about the HTC Hero not so long ago. It was definitely worth it as far as I'm concerned, but this was mainly because the official (European) Hero ROM is still stuck on Android 1.5, and I wanted 2.1. So I'm not sure you'd get the same benefits if you rooted your Droid, unless you really want to install apps on your SD card or to use tethering.

To answer your questions:
- I'm pretty sure doing this voids your warranty. Perhaps if you had to send if for warranty repairs, you could just install the old ROM on top though and make it look like nothing happened: I'm not sure about this (and I probably should have found out before I tried it myself).
- You can't backup the entire phone before it's rooted. However, see below.
- You can back up all your data and restore in in your new ROM: I use MyBackup Pro for this. It also backs up and restored apps, but this is slightly annoying, as it loses the link to the Android market when they're restored. It might just be easiest to make a list of the apps you use now and reinstall them. Contacts/calendars synced with your Google account will automatically be backed up and restored. Apps you've purchased previously in the market will be available for you to download again without further charge.
- (No idea.)
- One little thing I like about having a rooted phone is the ability to use screenshot apps. I use ShootMe for this.

Hope that helps!
posted by chorltonmeateater at 1:27 AM on May 24, 2010

You can't backup the entire phone before it's rooted.

Actually, this may have been a lie. In order to root the Hero, I had to downgrade the firmware to an older official version, and therefore wipe my phone in the process. You may be able to root a Droid without doing this, and therefore backup your phone as it is right now.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 2:08 AM on May 24, 2010

Well, I've gone ahead and done it so I figured I'd come back here and post about my experiences. It was actually fairly painless, though I would not at all recommend it for the average user.

I rooted the phone using the guide I posted above, which actually does give you the chance to do a full backup (using Nandroid) before you go for root access. Actually, even then, getting root access didn't seem to require wiping anything and I was able to backup apps and data using Astro File Manager (for apps) and MyBackup (for data) - I suppose I could have used MyBackup for both, but I already had Astro and read about its backup capability first.

Once rooted, installing ROMs is pretty easy using ROM Manager, which asks you if you want to backup each time you go to flash a new ROM.

As for my motivation:

Was there something specific you wanted out of it? Or just the joy that comes from opening something up and tinkering with it (which, I grant you, is a joy)?

Pretty much just wanted to be able to mess around with it, and explore the space of custom ROMs and themes. I also like the dev cycle of the ROMs in that I don't have to be stuck with what Motorola and Verizon want for me, and in many circumstances it seems like I might get stuff faster than "official" updates. WiFi tethering is a nice plus, too.

As it is, though, if 2.2 comes out soon I might go ahead and give it a try even though it'll require unrooting. We'll see. Thanks for the responses!
posted by malthas at 2:04 PM on May 24, 2010

Sounds like it was a lot more straightforward than it was for the Hero! I didn't realise that Astro did backups, so I'll have to take a look.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 10:16 PM on May 24, 2010

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