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1/27/2012
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Rooting The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7

Updating the T-Mobile Galaxy Tab 7 isn't as complicated as you might think. BYTE's David Chernicoff shows us how.

Have you and your Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 been orphaned by T-Mobile? You can get your tablet back in the game with some custom hacking.

Toward the end of 2010 I decided that a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 would make an excellent holiday gift for my wife. Her job as the marketing director for an Internet-based industrial equipment company meant that she spent a fair amount of time each month traveling to customer sites and trade shows, and tools to make her life easier were always welcome. In brief, the tablet would let her get her email, Web surf, and get some work done without having to carry around a full-size notebook. In addition, the 7-inch screen made it much more purse friendly than a 10-inch tablet.

At the time I bought the tablet, the best deal available was from T-Mobile, a decision that we eventually came to regret, for two reasons. First, T-Mobile coverage was nowhere nearly as good as advertised, and even when we checked in advance that a location she would be in would have service, more often than not there was little to no 3G connectivity available outside of major metropolitan areas. Second, T-Mobile never bothered to provide any updates to the Android 2.2 (Froyo) operating system on the Tab, despite the fact that Samsung made the much-improved Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) implementation available for the device.

After more than a year of use, the Tab began to experience the Android equivalent of Windows rot: Too many apps installed, lots of downloads, pictures, videos, etc., clogging up the works and needing to be managed. I decided the simplest fix would be a factory reset and wipe back to the device's original state. But realistically, I would need a good backup with a selective restore to make this practical. And to install and use a good backup application--Titanium Backup Pro is my favorite--it was very likely I would need to first root the Tab.

Rooting, if you're not familiar with the term, is the process of elevating privileges on your Android device in order to gain root access. This lets you perform operations that the device is by default set up to forbid.

Fortunately, the Tab 7 has been on the market so long that rooting it has become old hat. The now-ubiquitous SuperOneClick Android rooting tool makes it easy. Here's a step by step:

  1. Download SuperOneClick.
  2. Make sure that you have the drivers for the Tab installed on your computer. If you don't, they can be downloaded from the Samsung support site.
  3. Disconnect your Tab from your PC, and go to Settings-->Applications-->Development and enable USB debugging.
  4. Connect the Tab to your PC.
  5. Launch SuperOneClick.
  6. When SuperOneClick sees your Tab, just click the Root button.
  7. Let SuperOneClick do its thing. It will root the tablet and then install Superuser and Busybox, which are the support tools needed by the device to perpetuate its untethered root.
  8. When SuperOneClick completes, reboot your Tab.

That's all there is to it. You are now the owner of a rooted Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 and can make use of applications that require root access such as Titanium Backup Pro.


Titantium Backup Pro's backup and restore status screen.

With the Tab rooted, I went to the Android Market and installed Titanium Backup Pro. I then launched the app and had it do a batch backup of all the apps and data on the Tab. After the backup completed, I then did the first tricky part. Using my favorite file manager (ES File Manager, free in the Market), I copied the folder that Titanium Backup Pro created to the external SD card in the Tab. This last step is important, because a factory reset would wipe all of the data from the internal storage.

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