Do I Have to Root the Phone to Use ADB?


The Android Debug Bridge, included in the Android software development kit, is a tool used in many rooting processes. While ADB is commonly used to root Android-based smartphones, the phone does not have to be rooted nor does it need to be in the process of being rooted to make use of ADB. This tool offers many different features for Android-based smartphones, such as copying files to the SD card and remounting the card.

ADB Installation

  • ADB is part of a software package that is not included with your Android smartphone. Android developers use the Android SDK for several different purposes, such as developing and testing applications intended for deployment on this platform. ADB is a small part of this software and is installed after the SDK is loaded onto a system. ADB is not included by default; it exists in a platform tools package that is downloaded and installed through the SDK interface.

Use in Rooting

  • ADB is used in manual rooting processes where a one-click root application does not exist. The software may access ADB directly or the process requires the user to go through and issue each of the commands manually. ADB sends the rooting files and any other applications associated with the rooting process to the phone. Once the files are transferred, ADB executes the installation process and provides root access to the user. ROMs and other software can also be sent to the phone in this fashion.

Using ADB

  • ADB is launched as a command line interface with the smartphone attached to the computer. The computer needs the proper drivers installed for the smartphone or it will not be recognized correctly. You have two options to access ADB from within the command line: type out the entire path to the ADB tools or set the environmental variables within Windows so that it automatically executes the commands from ADB without typing in the path every time.

ADB Commands

  • Push is a common ADB command that pushes files from your computer to the connected smartphone. Pushing is a necessary process when using ADB for rooting, but it can also be used to transfer files to the smartphone's SD card. Pull serves a similar purpose, but instead of sending the file from the computer, it sends the file from the smartphone to the computer. The install command is used in conjunction with an APK file in order to begin the installation process on your smartphone. You can use this command to install non-market applications onto the phone.

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