This is a common question by those who have just rooted their phones. What apps, ROMs, benefits, etc. do I get from rooting? What should I be doing now?
Things that Require Root
Root File Explorers
You can remount your
Moving & Removing Apps
Access to /system also means you can move apps or updates to system apps from /data to /system (with caution!), if the partition has enough space.
Note that moving apps to the sdcard has risks and cons, and should be undertaken only if space is needed. Most modern devices have enough memory for many apps (16GB+), providing that photos/videos/music are stored on an external sdcard.
Some devices already have Wi-Fi tethering out-of-the-box, like the Samsung Galaxy S, so this isn't such a big deal on them unless the carrier charges for the feature.
Screenshots & screen recording
root is needed for screenshots before 4.0-Ice Cream Sandwich. Most pre-lollipop screen recorders also require root.
There are also many apps that claim to make a full nandroid backup.
The xposed framework allows apps with advanced functionality to be installed.
Enable swap file / partition
Advanced and Miscellaneous
Though root is not required for flashing new ROMs, many apps that make it easier do require root.
CyanogenMod is a very popular rom that many people put on their phones. It is also easy to install via the ROM Manager app. First install the Clockwork recovery. Then run a backup before you flash any roms.
Also check out "Where can I find stock or custom ROMs for my device" or the XDA forums for other custom roms. Most devices have a specific "Android Development" sub-forum where ROMs are posted.
Always do a nandroid backup before installing any rom or mod! You may also need to wipe all data and cache from your phone before installing or upgrading a ROM.Custom Kernels
One popular set of kernels is those provided by ChevyNo1. You can also download them via the premium version of the ROM Manager. Make a nandroid (ClockworkMod) backup before using these kernels! You'll also want to get SetCPU to make the most out of these kernels.
Start with the low voltage kernels at the lowest speed and work your way up to the 1.2ghz. If your phone is stable up to the 1.2ghz range, then try some of the ultra low voltage kernels. If you start getting force closes, then switch back to a low voltage kernel.
Basically each phone (of the same phone brand/model) varies by which kernel it can handle due to the manufacturing differences between processors. So I may have a Motorola Droid that can run ultra low voltage kernels and yours may not be able to run them. These phones weren't necessarily designed to run like this.
In few words, rooting an Android system means overcome the limitations that were imposed over it by the manufacturer. People may want that for different reasons, but the main one is freedom. Having a rooted phone means you've got all the control over your device.
The main reason people root phones is to install a custom ROM. Custom ROMs are often known for improvements in performance and exclusive features that are not present on manufacturer ROMs, like installing apps on sdcard or taking screenshots. Custom ROMS can also become a system update alternative for those devices that were abandoned by their manufacturers. You can see a review of popular ROMS, as an example, here.
Rooting Android also allows you to uninstall stock apps that you don't use or don't want, besides those that violates user's privacy (see CarrierIQ). Another main reason for doing that is to gain more space on internal storage.
A rooted device lets you install almost any app that requires root access. Those apps generally aim to do something that would not be possible without that privilege. A lot of useful apps were shown on the previous answer, but you may find a lot more available on Google Play. You can find a list of good apps here.
protected by Community♦ Nov 21 '11 at 21:25
Thank you for your interest in this question.
Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?