Rooting the HTC Desire

November 15, 2012 · Posted in Tech 
HTC Desire

HTC Desire

I recently went out-of-contract on my HTC Desire and, given that it was also out of warranty, I decided to try rooting it. This is not something I entered into lightly, as I depend on my phone for everyday usage but I decided that even if I bricked it, I could get a replacement phone within a few days.

Before trying this, I can strongly recommend doing as much reading as you feel you need in order to become familiar with what you’re trying to do when rooting and why. My main reason was that, as with many of the early HTC phones, my Desire has only 150MB of user-accessible internal memory on which to install apps. I don’t consider that I use all that many apps, but I seemed to be running out of memory more and more often and it became an almost daily struggle to find ways to reduce the usage. I’ve later found out that, rather like Windows, the space used by Android and the apps keeps on increasing, further compounding the problem.

In order to do anything really significant about this, you really needs superuser permission for which you’ll need to be S-OFF and rooted. For me the clearest guide to do this was here on androidforums.com. You shouldn’t lose any data in this process, but of course it makes sense to back up before you start. Useful free apps I found to help with this were Call Logs Backup & Restore and SMS Backup & Restore.

If you like, you could now go off and install one of many custom ROMs and completely replace (and probably improve) your stock o/s (remember to take a backup image first!). However, the drawback is that you’d lose all your settings, apps, in fact just about everything apart from the files on your SD card. I’d love to have tried this, in particular cyanogenmod, but I don’t really have time to be without my phone while I tinker around with it. Maybe I will when I upgrade and it becomes a spare :-)

What I wanted to do was to create more space for installing apps. You can do this by creating a partition on your SD card (I upgraded mine first to 16GB) and then use an app like Link2SD to create symbolic links to app data so that it stays off your internal memory. The best guide I found for this was actually on a website geared towards the Sony Ericsson Xperia but the theory is the same if you just skip the stuff about rooting as you’ll already have done this. I created a partition using EXT2 thinking it might be faster (than, say, EXT4) without the journaling, but I have no way of knowing for sure. There is lots of debate on this subject, so you can do your own reading. Suffice to say, I’ve also rooted an HTC Wildfire and had to do that using FAT32 (it doesn’t support other formats) which seems fine too so I guess there’s not much in it. I think I read somewhere that the maximum size you should use for the partition is 1GB, but I’m not sure if that’s true. 1GB should be plenty though so I stuck with that.

I’m pretty pleased with the outcome, it has certainly achieved the aim of more space for apps. I now try to link as many apps as I can to the SD partition. I tend to just keep a few (e.g. Gmail, SwiftKey) on the internal memory as it is faster and is necessary if your app uses widgets.

Update Mar 2013: I recently found the internal memory running out on the HTC Wildfire phone I mentioned above. It turned out, after a little reading and using the very handy Storage Analyser app, that a massive 67MB log file had built up in the following location: /data/data/com.android.htcprofile/anr_history.txt
Having copied it to the SD card (you’ll need a file explorer with super user permission) I deleted it. No ill effects and I got all 67MB of internal storage space back!

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One Response to “Rooting the HTC Desire”

  1. […] get far without encountering CyanogenMod. I’d read about this a while ago when researching rooting my HTC Desire, but that wasn’t an option then as the latest version of CyanogenMod didn’t support the […]