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My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S2 flashed with stock ROM - ICS v4.0.3, carrier is Virgin Mobile (model #GT-I9100M). There is some bloatware installed by Samsung, which causes minor problems, such as

  • being listed in the apps list, so it takes more time to find the app I need
  • asking for updates every now and then.

I've read on the internet - there are several ways to solve the problem with bloatware, but I am not sure which one addresses both of my concerns. All of them require rooting - so I booted into recovery mode and tried to proceed according to this article: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1501719. I got the error "failed to mount /sdcard", googling for it resulted in some vague answers. I believe this is showstopper - so I cannot do anything about bloatware without rooting - please correct me if I am wrong.

Supposing I managed to root the phone somehow, there are couple options:

  • remove bloatware (many apps on the market can do it, even for free).
  • freeze bloatware (something I can do, for example, using Titanium Backup).

What's freezing? Does it remove the app from everywhere, like it never existed? How stable is it, i.e. can any action cause them to accidently unfreeze? What are the risks associated with going along each path? Will I be able to upgrade my ROM, when the new version comes out (ICS 4.0.4 and then Jelly Bean - 4.1.1)?

Do I need to backup my phone and what are best ways to do it? Just so I can restore if something happens, without paying for the fancy features I don't need. There are a lot of backup solutions out there, my main concern is reliability and, for some of them, it suffered in the latest versions and people started complaining in the reviews.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

A backup never is a bad idea, so right after you get root access, you should:

  • Do a full NANDroid backup (which creates images of your partitions, so you always can revert to this state by simply restoring them)
  • Use Titanium Backup to make a full backup of all your apps and their settings (so you can re-install a selection when needed)

Freezing does not remove anything, and it is fully revertible. I always recommend to first freeze a single app, then check for potential side-effects, and only remove it if there were none. Titanium Backup even offers to create a homescreen shortcut to freeze/unfreeze an app (like a toggle: If frozen, the app gets unfrozen and vice-versa), which is nice for apps you rarely use but which always annoy you (for me, this is Google Maps, which I need maybe 2-3 times a year but is running permanently in background -- so I freeze it when not needed, and simply unfreeze it when I need it).

Basically, freezing an app simply hides it away from all activities. I'm not sure how that works technically, but I compare it with the "execution flag" of a Unix/Linux binary: If not set, the binary does not get executed. So no background services or any other activities from this app, though it is still installed.

In short: Freezing is the safe variant, as it easily can be undone. It also doesn't touch the apps data. Removing an app is final: without a backup available, it's simply gone, including its data.


Additional ressources you might want to look up for this topic:

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Thanks, Izzy - you seem to be the only one hanging in here on android.stackexchange. I managed to remove all Samsung apps in question without rooting, so hopefully they will no longer bother me with updates. Some garbage apps needed "uninstall updates", for Disable button to appear, and some cannot be disabled at all, although I don't believe they are critical. Still, a good workaround - 100% safe and covered with warranty. –  Neolisk Oct 1 '12 at 0:38
    
Glad I could help! And I'm not the only one around here, just happened to be the first :D –  Izzy Oct 1 '12 at 5:50

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