Help me root my Galaxy S4 without ruining it
July 22, 2014 7:19 AM   Subscribe

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 on the Bell network in Canada. It is bloated with bloatware, and most apps can't actually be transferred to the SD card i've mounted. So i have a phone without much stuff i actually want on it, and tons of stuff that i don't, and i want to fix that situation - but i'm nervous. I've seen various solutions on message boards and stuff online, but i'm very wary of downloading zip files from random message boards, for a solution that may or may not work for my phone.

I'd really appreciate a lead on a reliable solution that is clearly explained for someone who isn't an idiot but isn't technical either. Your recommendations, links, instructions please!
posted by Kololo to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What version of Android do you have? If it is 4.4.2 (Kit Kat) there is a one step solution I did using a Verizon phone here in the US. The solution is the Towel Root. Here is a video about it.

It was actually quite easy to do, but I caution that I am not sophisticated in the world of Android or rooting, I have no idea if it will work on your phone on the Bell network and I have no idea what happens if it does not work. I downloaded a root checker app to confirm it worked, but you will know by what you try to do. You do have to side load the Towel Root app.

Again, the good news and bad news is that this method worked for me quite easily, but I have no idea what I am actually doing so I just followed the directions.
posted by 724A at 7:46 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I do indeed have android 4.4.2
posted by Kololo at 8:05 AM on July 22, 2014

I would add that I am in your category somewhat in that I am (presumably) not an idiot, but not particularly technical when it comes to my phone. Fwiw, after I rooted mine, I did remove some bloatware and did move a few apps to the SD card, but after that and a backup or two, I don't really see much need to root these days. I guess the risk is worst case bricking the phone or having to do a factory reset, but the upside is also a steep slope that levels off quickly in my opinion.

Btw, the whole operation took me about 11 minutes.
posted by 724A at 8:14 AM on July 22, 2014

My samsung s4 for example, is on the at&t network. My specific model, mf3, has been locked down so I cant install CWM, a tool used to install custom roms.

However, there is a work around which involves install safestrap which partitions (divides) the internal memory on the phone allowing the user to have both the stock rom as well as a custom rom.

The big drawback is that safestrap only works with 4.2.2 roms and below.

This is the route I took and I'm running a google edition rom 4.2.2 and its great so far. No bloatware and rooted. I'm playing around with a custom 4.4.4 kitkat rom on my older phone (s2) and I dont feel its a major difference.

If you want us to help you futher, id be best to post your firmware model to see if it can indeed be rooted and if its possible to install cwm.

Some great sources include the xdaforum. Also, youtube is your friend.
posted by philllip at 10:05 AM on July 22, 2014

If it's just bloatware you want to get rid of, and you're feeling uncomfortable with rooting, aren't you able to just turn off the app in the settings? I thought they introduced that feature recently.
posted by WCityMike at 10:29 AM on July 22, 2014

Response by poster: WcityMike you can turn off many apps, but they're still sitting there taking up memory. There's also lots of stuff you can't turn off, and there's lots of stuff i want to keep but want to shift to the SD card but currently can't.
posted by Kololo at 11:06 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Once you get it rooted, I can recommend system app remover for doing the actual removing. It will remove stuff to a recycle bin, so you can uninstall things and then check that your phone actually works afterwards. By rooting, you can uninstall stuff like your launcher, without which your phone won't actually work. Link2SD will help a lot with moving stuff to the SD card.

XDA and such places are pretty much your best bet for advice and downloads. Manufacturers rarely if ever release official ways of rooting.
posted by Solomon at 11:23 AM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

This Android Central post shows the steps (scroll down a little to see them ) that I went through last December to root my S3 after posting this ask.metafilter question. Some of the key points are:

- Get an SD card before doing any of this work ( you already have one but anyone else reading this thread should know too ).

- If you can install ClockworkMod ROM Manager, ( what philllip called "CWM" and I called "CRM" in the Android Central post ) do so. Not only does it make installing custom roms easy but you can use it to backup your current system to your SD card in case things go wrong.

- Samsung bundles something called knox which seems to get in the way of rooting your phone. I used a "knox remover script", linked to in the Android Central post. This worked fine but *maybe* you can accomplish the same purpose just by using the app manager.

If you go this route and have any questions, feel free to memail me.
posted by metadave at 11:50 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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