5 Tips for a Safer and Happier Android Experience
Rooting has its advantages and disadvantages. And, despite of knowing the cons, we go for the dicey one i.e. we root our brand new, safe and fully functional android device. And why shouldn’t we? No one likes to be denied full access to what he/she already owns! Without full access, what we do is follow the manufacturer’s way to use our device but with full access, we can make our own rules, methods, restrictions etc.. and more importantly we are the true master of our device instead of the service centre guy. But like its said, with great power comes great responsibility; after rooting we do get the power to do anything within the hardware limitations of our device but then we become responsible for all the success and failures of our device. And this time, the service centre guy wont help you for free if something goes wrong. And unless you are a highly paid developer, you would not want to have to pay excessive amounts because of your highly ambitious activities.Before starting , I should tell you a little bit about ‘Bricking’ your Android : There are two type of bricks – Soft Brick and Hard Brick. A Soft Brick can be recovered by the user itself but a Hard Brick is the one which hurts your device and your wallet. A Hard Brick is the situation of your device when it is unable to boot into the OS, Recovery or Download mode. When you cant reverse your actions which led to the condition, when you cant roll down to an older state of your device, when your device has a misconfiguration of essential on-board software such that it can’t be recovered , this state is called ‘Hard Brick’. Most of the time a hard brick is caused when a part of memory gets wiped that you don’t have access to flash to e.g emmc chip, if it gets damaged you can’t just flash it as its preprogrammed. A Hard Brick cant be recovered from while sitting in your home and is cured only by a hardware solution. This article tells you about some of the most likely root-related actions which if performed on your device , will Hard-brick it or permanently damage a part of it and take you to the service centre.
1. Messing up with the bootloader : Most Hard-Bricks are caused by damaged bootloaders. There is more than one way you can do this
- Connection Loss while updating ROM,Kernel,Recovery etc – Before flashing anything through download mode, Always make sure that you have sufficient amount of charge in your phone battery, your USB cables are reliable and do not easily/randomly lose connection, your USB port is reliable and you have power backup in your laptop/Desktop(battery). When something is being flashed through the download mode, the previously loaded on-board memory is being wiped off and new data is being loaded. If this procedure is stopped before it is complete, the device will have corrupt/incomplete information to function properly.
- Updating/Changing the current bootloader : If you try to install a corrupt bootloader, you will Hard-Brick your device. Flashing any corrupt/incompatible image will do so.
2. Flashing Incorrect/Incompatible Radio : Never ever mess up with the radio firmware of your device until and unless you are 100% sure about the file and its compatibility. The radio firmware controls basic low-level functions like network connectivity, Wi-Fi, and GPS. “Radio” means “baseband” and controls network connectivity aspects. Sometimes upgrading to a ROM might require you to update your radio version. Take all precautions before doing so.
3. Flashing a Faulty Kernel : The kernel is responsible for the interaction between the OS and the hardware. But what matters in this context is that the kernel defines the controlling properties of the hardware like the maximum and minimum frequency of the Processor. If the Kernel has not been made with the hardware limitations in mind, it might damage the hardware. For example, if you flash an overclocked kernel and the maximum frequency is more than what the CPU can handle even in extreme conditions, then by operating the CPU in that frequency will surely fry your CPU leaving it useless and so will be your device.
4. Flashing Incompatible/Corrupt ROM : This might not always lead to a Hard Brick but in the worst scenario it can. This would depend on the difference/corruption levels of the ROM. Always read the source and make sure to know of any issues before blindly flashing it on your device.
5. No EFS/ Corrupt EFS: EFS is a very sensitive system folder that contains Phone-specific information such as the IMEI (encrypted in the nv_data.bin), wireless devices MAC addresses, product code (also in the nv_data.bin), and much more. Often users trying to change product codes or trying to unlock the mobile will end up corrupting data in this location. It is virtually immune to any kind of flashing and manipulation (unless of course you know how to access it) so a Nandroid backup wont save you if you messed up with your EFS. If your EFS gets erased/corrupted, you might face the issues of no SIM services, WI-FI services, no IMEI etc.. which leaves the phone completely useless. The best and the only solution is to take a backup of your EFS folder by any program like EFSpro before flashing anything. Also, Do not check the ‘Clear EFS’ option in ODIN while flashing anything until you already have EFS issues and know that this is the only solution to your problem.
These are some of the most important tips which a rooted Android user should follow. Rooting gives you the power to improve your device in many aspects but that power is sufficient enough to harm your android leaving it as useless as a brick . So keep these in mind before trying to do anything adventurous. Happy(and safe) Hacking.