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How to Unroot an Android Smartphone

In the previous few articles, we’ve guided you on how to root a device by Unlocking the bootloader and installing a custom recovery, no wonder it gives access to a whole new range of features and possibilities, however rooting isn’t for everyone.

Especially, considering the fact that your warranty becomes void the very moment you unlock the bootloader, the difficulties caused by updating the software on rooted devices should also be noted.  Most rooted devices have problems in OTA updates, and also interfere with the functioning of many apps. If you’re planning to sell your phone, you’d probably consider unrooting it as the person who ends up buying the device expects an “out of box” device or a device that’s just like the brand new one.

Rooting does bump up many possibilities but at the cost of sacrificing the security.  If you want to stay safe in the zone created by Google in their Android OS, you should probably consider unrooting your device. There are several methods to do the same, the best few methods have been described below.

Unrooting using the SuperSU app

Most rooted devices should come with SuperSU installed unless it has been rooted using one of the vulnerabilities, in which case the developer might choose to install their custom Superuser app.

  • With SuperSU installed, Unrooting is very simple.  Start off by opening the app.
  • Navigate to the settings tab and scroll down on that page.
  • At the bottom of the page, look for “Full Unroot”  and select it.
  • Let the app do its work and once it confirms successful unroot just go ahead and reboot your device.
  • Check for successfully unroot using a root checker app.

Using Universal unroot app:

If your device was rooted using a vulnerability, chances are that you wouldn’t be having SuperSU installed. There are still several apps to might help you unroot the device, best of them probably is the Universal Unroot app. However there are a few downsides too, Samsung devices don’t work because of their in-house security suite called Knox, LG devices might show rooted even after the devices is successfully unrooted, this is because of the inclusion of an eFuse. However, if you don’t like to tweak around the device a lot, this might be a good buy at just $0.99

Unrooting using a file explorer:

For this you need a file manager with root support, we recommend ES  File Explorer for its simplicity. Although this is one of the more complicated ways to uproot a device, it is more likely to succeed even if the previous two have failed.  Also, it gives you a better understanding of what root actually is and how it works.  Correctly speaking, they’re just a bunch of files placed in a few system directories which help give you admin rights, deleting them would technically unroot the device.  Also, it’s because of the placement of these files that the OTA updates are hindered.

Just open up the file Explorer and make sure that root permissions are granted. Then navigate to the root directory or the system directory. Look for a folder called “system”, open it and find the “bin” folder.  This is the folder where the “busy box” and “Superuser” folders are placed, find and delete them.  There is a slight chance that these folders don’t exist for some devices, in that case go back and look for “xbin” folder and see if you can find the “busy box”  and “superuser”  folders and delete them both.  Now navigate back to the system and look for an “app”  folder and delete the Superuser.apk file.  Unless an error occurred, your device should now be unrooted.  Restart the device and check for root using a root checker app.

Unrooting by OTA update:

Yes, it was mentioned earlier in the post that root access does interfere with the OTA updates, however, that’s only when the device is updated in a Conventional fashion, you can always choose to manually update the device once you get hold of an OTA package newer than what’s currently installed on the device.  OTA updates generally interfere and break root, thus resulting in a stock unrooted device. However the biggest disadvantage of this method is the fact that you need to wait till the manufacturer release any update for your device, this also makes the method unsuitable to many and it is also a hit and miss for the rest. Make sure you uninstall busy box, Superuser and all root related apps before proceeding with the OTA update for a complete unroot. Do note that the OTA update might fail in a few cases stating the reason as “system modified, the update cannot proceed” if that happens, go ahead with the procedure below and flash the stock firmware.

Flashing Stock ROM:

This probably is the best and safest way to unroot, which can assure you of successful unroot almost every time.  The system firmware includes everything that’s needed including the system folder that we modify to gain root access, thus flashing a stock firmware reverts the device back to its Virgin state without any modifications.

If you’re having a custom recovery installed, you can directly flash the system firmware using TWRP or CWM, this should totally revert the device to stock and the device will get un rooted.

However, if you were a Thug and you chose not to install a custom recovery, it’s a little more complex and you’ll have to boot into bootloader using the adb command

adb reboot bootloader

And then flash the stock firmware using fast boot commands.  However both the methods require you to have an unlocked bootloader, which is almost evident if you’re device is rooted. This is also the most recommended method as, in most cases, the stock firmware replaces the custom recovery with the stock recovery.

It should be understood that all the data will be erased when flashing using fast boot commands, even if you flash using a custom recovery it is recommended to perform a factory reset right after the flash.

So all set? 

Now that you know several ways to unroot the device, choose the one that best suits you and let us know the results in the comments below. It’s also recommended that you take a backup before messing with the system, check How to create Nandroid backup for a how-to guide on the same.

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