How to unroot Android

An Android smartphone laid flat on a surface beside a model of the Android mascot
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Android is unquestionably the most popular mobile operating system in the world, and one aspect that makes it so desirable is the ability to unroot Android devices.

Unrooting is the process of restoring an Android device to its default settings, usually after a user has gained superuser privileges and root access to their smartphone's operating system in order to make custom tweaks. Unrooting might be desirable if you plan to sell a device as a second-hand smartphone.

Rooting an Android device is possible due to its open source foundations. This makes the operating system highly adaptable, allowing users to tweak the system to fit their needs, or replace it entirely with a custom-built operating system, such as Lune OS, Pure OS, or Plasma Mobile.

How to unroot Android

As we're dealing with the operating system of a mobile device, the process of unrooting Android is fairly complex, and should only really be attempted by those with experience or those unconcerned about potentially breaking their device.

There are a variety of third-party tools available to help with the unrooting process, but we have highlighted three of the more popular methods below to get you started.

Important: Before you begin, be sure to make a full backup of any data held on your Android device, as the unrooting process will wipe everything.

Unroot Android using ES File Explorer

(Image: © ES File Explorer)

ES File Explorer is a popular data management tool, although very few users might be aware that it can also be used to unroot Android from a device entirely. While this is a free app, be wary of ads.

  1. Download the ES File tool from the Google Play Store.
  2. Once launched, you'll be shown a long list of functions the app can perform. Ignore these, and select the menu drop-down at the top left.
  3. Scroll down this menu until you see options with button sliders, some on and some off. One of these will be the Root Explorer option (off by default) - switch this on and it will ask for root privileges.
  4. Back on the main screen of the app, hit the box with the storage information at the top of the screen and locate the device's root folder - this will typically be in "system" | "bin". Find and delete both the "su" and "busybox" files.
  5. Now head back to the main screen, hit the storage info box again and this time look for the "app" folder. In here you want to delete a file labelled "superuser.apk".
  6. Once that's done, you can restart your device. Once it boots back up, your device should be unrooted and back to its original state.

Unroot Android using SuperSU

One of the most popular tools used to root and unroot Android devices is SuperSU. If your device is already rooted, chances are that you have this installed on it already. If you don't, it is easy enough to go to the Google Play Store and download it.

  1. Launch the app and tap on the Settings tab.
  2. Scroll down the page until you see an option called "Full unroot", then tap on this.
  3. The app will then ask if you are sure you want to completely unroot the device. Tap continue.
  4. Once this is done, the app will automatically close and you will need to restart the device.
  5. Once it has rebooted, you can uninstall SuperSU and your device will be unrooted once more.

Unroot Android using Universal Unroot

(Image: © Universal Unroot)

By far the easiest tool to use on this list is Universal Unroot, which makes it possible to unroot your smartphone with one tap, at no cost:

  1. Download the app and launch it
  2. Tap the UNROOT button
  3. Tap to allow Root Access when a permission prompt appears
  4. Your device will reboot and should revert back to its default settings

Having previously cost around 78p, Universal Unroot is now free to install. However, this means that the main source of the app’s revenue is advertising, which results in users being bombarded with ads.

Although less popular than SuperSU, Universal Unroot also works as an alternative for owners of Android-powered smartphones or tablets. This is because the app is exclusive to Android, which means that iPhone users will have to try their luck elsewhere. However, it’s important to point out that not every Android-powered smartphone is compatible with Universal Unroot, with users often reporting that the app doesn’t work on any Samsung Galaxy device released from 2013 onwards, due to incompatibility with the Knox security tool that comes pre-installed on Samsung devices.

Another smartphone brand which can be immune to Universal Unroot’s workings is LG, with users reporting that the app either doesn’t work, or that their smartphones display “Rooted” after the reboot, despite being, in fact, unrooted. This flaw has been attributed to the app's incompatibility with LG’s eFuse software. However, Android smartphones that are neither manufactured by Samsung or LG should work fine.

Overall, Universal Unroot is a simple app that might not be for everyone, but is free to install and mostly delivers the right results.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite. Dale is also the Editor of ITPro 20/20, a monthly digital magazine providing a snapshot of the stories and themes shaping the business tech world. Prior to joining ITPro, Dale secured a Masters degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.