16
Sep
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WARNING: We are not responsible for any destruction of data, phones, or small animals resulting from your use of these instructions. Utilize them at your own risk. If you brick your BIONIC, head to this link.

OK, DROID BIONIC owners - I think it's finally safe-ish (well, as safe as it can be for the moment) to start tinkering with your phone a little. There's enough information out there now to reliably root, backup, and de-bloat your phone - with the ability to unbrick if you screw something up. So, let's get this party started. Also, these instructions are for Windows only. If you're looking for Linux or OS X instructions, check out this XDA thread.

Rooting

This is actually very, very easy. To root your DROID BIONIC, just do the following:

DROID BIONIC ROOT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download the Motorola Drivers (version 5.2.0) (DOWNLOAD HERE) (64-bit version here), and install them.
  2. Download Pete's Motorola Root Tools (DOWNLOAD HERE) and unzip the contents to any new, empty folder.
  3. Now, go into your phone's Settings menu, then to "Applications," then "Development," and check the box to enable "USB debugging."
  4. Next, connect your DROID BIONIC to your computer. When the little USB icon in the notification bar appears, pull down and hit it, then select "Charge Only" mode from the list of 4 options.
  5. Next, disconnect your BIONIC from your PC, then re-connect it. This will un-mount the storage locations, just for safety's sake.
  6. Finally, in the folder you created, run "Pete's Motorola Root Tools.exe" and then hit "Root My Phone", if all goes as planned, you should get the following screen:

rewt

Once your BIONIC reboots for the third time, you should have root access. Woohoo. Now, before you start going hog-wild with fantasies of removing Moto-bloat, you really should get a Nandroid (full system image) backup on your SD card in case you, well, screw something up. First, we'll need to install the bootstrap recovery.

Bootstrap Recovery And Nandroid Backup

Installing the bootstrap recovery tool is a cinch. Thanks to CVPCS, we have a viable, Clockwork Recovery-based (note: this is not authored by Koush, the creator of CWR) bootstrap recovery tool.

Please note that in all likelihood, Koush will release an authorized BIONIC bootstrap recovery that is compatible with the ClockworkMod app at some point. At that point, we'll update this post with a link to the appropriate Market pages.

BOOTSTRAP RECOVERY INSTALL INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download the CVPCS BIONIC bootstrap recovery apk. (DOWNLOAD HERE) [md5: 082a6362c386e2660848120b681f42c3]
  2. E-mail yourself a copy of the apk (through Gmail - this is the easiest method), or place the apk on the root of your phone's SD card.
  3. Go to your phone's Settings menu, then to "Applications," and make sure "Unknown sources" is checked.
  4. Go to Gmail, and on the attachment hit "Install." If you placed it on your SD card, you'll need a file management app like Astro to explore the card. The directory for the external SD card is "sd-ext."
  5. Go to your app drawer, and open the Bionic Bootstrapper app.
  6. Hit "Bootstrap Recovery," and when prompted, hit "Allow" on the superuser permission prompt. When it says "Bootstrap Successful," hit "Reboot Recovery."

snap20110916_092850

Shortly thereafter, you should be greeted by the following screen:

IMGA0001

Next, we'll need to create a backup.

CREATING A NANDROID BACKUP

  1. In the recovery menu, navigate to "Backup and Restore" - hit the power button to select it.
  2. "Backup" should be the first item on the menu. Hit the power button to start your system backup. Once finished, you'll be returned to the recovery main menu.
  3. Hit "Reboot System" and your phone will start up normally. You now have a Nandroid backup of your system as it exists now, on your SD card.

To restore it, simply open the Bootstrapper app, reboot into recovery, and go to the Backup and Restore menu, select Restore, then find the backup you made (it's labeled by date and time).

De-Bloat (Remove Crappy Verizon/Motorola Apps And Services)

De-bloating your BIONIC is probably 95% of the reason you're here. Now that you've made it this far, I've got some quasi-disappointing news: you're probably going to have to spend some money. You have two options:

  1. Download Titanium Backup PRO (cost: approximately $7 US, available in the Market)
  2. Use Team BlackHat app (cost: $2.99, but more complicated download process), which contains a Motorola de-bloat tool.

We prefer Titanium. Why? Because Titanium Backup is an awesome app that does a lot more than de-bloat your phone. It's full-on app management and backup. Trust us, it's worth 7 bucks. Also, we won't be including instructions for the TBH app.

DE BLOAT VIA TITANIUM BACKUP INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Install Titanium Backup, then buy Titanium Backup Pro (Market page).
  2. Run Titanium Backup. If it doesn't work, uninstall it and download again and open straight from the Market page (I had this issue). You should get a Superuser prompt, hit "allow."
  3. Go to the "Backup/Restore" tab. You should have a ginormous list of apps and related things.
  4. If you long-press on any of the apps, you should get a little menu like the one below, notice the "Freeze" option, this basically tells your phone that app doesn't exist. Once you "freeze" an app, your phone will act like it's not installed - it won't run, it won't show up in your app drawer, and it will no longer bug you. But, you need to be careful what you freeze.
  5. Here is a list of Motorola and Verizon installed bloatware, as labelled in Titanium, which you can safely "Freeze." Note that Blockbuster and NFL Mobile aren't included, because they may cause errors if frozen.

snap20110916_093411

LIST OF SAFELY FREEZE-ABLE BIONIC BLOATWARE:

WARNING: Once frozen, you cannot use these apps or their related services. You'll have to unfreeze them.

Backup Assistant 2.3.4
Backup Assistant Client 1.0
Citrix Receiver 2.1.1059
City ID 1.1.7
GoToMeeting 1.0
Guided Tours 2.3.4
Help Center 2.3.4
IM 3.0.4.6
IM Presence 2.3.4
MOTOPRINT 2.0.0.38
News 2.3.4
Slacker 3.0.535
Social Location 2.0* [do not disable if you use any of the Social widgets or other Motorola social tools]
Social Messaging 2.3.4*
Social Networking 2.3.4*
Social Status 2.3.4*
Sticky note 2.3.4
Swype 3.21.87.27685
Tasks 1.0
V CAST Media Manager 4.4.1.0
V CAST Music 03.72.110
V CAST Tones 4.5.11
V CAST Videos 5.72.008
VideoSurf 1.0.10
VZ Navigator 7.2.0.353

This list has been reduced from the original you'll find at the Android Central forums, mostly because it contained a lot of non-Verizon/Moto stuff, as well as things which you should have no reason to remove unless you're already pretty experienced with this sort of thing. You can find the full, unedited list here.

Once you've done that, you're, well, done. Enjoy root access, and the reduced bloat.

Note On Restoring From Brick

Remember, if you "brick" your BIONIC (as in, it won't boot to the OS), you'll have to follow the explicit de-bricking instructions in the link here. Once you do this, you will have to re-root, and re-bootstrap your BIONIC to access the backup you made, then restore it. Just a friendly FYI.

Thanks to the following sources for the files and instructions and all the hard work:

XDA [1, 2, 3], AC Forums, BriefMobile, Pete's Motorola Root Tools, CVPCS

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Lorenzo in a Benzo

    I think the easist method for bootstrap is to just download it on your phone, not download, email to self, open email, install apk. Just sayin :P

    • David Ruddock

      That is possible, haha. I just assume people are doing the browsing from their desktops, I suppose.

  • NuLL.n.VoiD

    I'd still love to see an RZ recovery. Charging while in recovery is a nice feature along with several other wipe capabilities I didn't see in CWM for my OG Droid. This is still pretty exciting though. It stands to reason that CVPCS would be the one to pull it off. Awesome work!

  • Mike

    Why Titanium Pro to freeze?? Why not just back up the apps in that list and then remove them with the free version of Titanium Backup? If you need to put them back then just use your backup to reinstall..

    Don't get me wrong..it's a great app and well worth the price..but, correct me if I am wrong, you can accomplish the same as I described for free?

    • David Ruddock

      Yep, but we've heard from some users that deleting and restoring doesn't always fix problems caused by the deletion in the first place. It's safer to freeze, but you could definitely proceed in the way you described.

  • NuLL.n.VoiD

    Done and done! Worked beautifully. Just note that it will say "skipping back up of applications" since the "sdcard" is really internal storage while sdcard-ext is the real SD card. I'm sure Koush will cover that in the official version.

  • Mike

    Ahhh...I can see that...then the advantage of freezing is you don't have to use that nandroid backup of your stock root to fix any issues that may arise from a deletion.

  • http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/wiki/HTC_Incredible_2:_Full_Update_Guide Htimez2

    Loved it, worked great and very fast, has to be the easiest way out there to root your Bionic. I definitely suggest following the directions and thanx to everyone who had a part in making this possible.

  • http://.com knowledge

    Please help need my bionic like ever 1 else the cool n only way

  • Joel Joseph

    does thb app have a debloat tool for the droid pro?

  • JohnnyBlaze

    I am kinda new at this, as in, the droid bionic is my first smartphone. What are the benefits of doing this process? Would this void the warranty?

  • Jeremy

    Are there any information updates for using the Titanium Backup Pro? The Options to Freeze an app are not as shown in the screen shots when I run the program.

    • Jeremy

      I was able to get to the shown menu, but this was accomplished with a short press instead of a long press.

  • Jason

    I just rooted my Bionic and have been wondering what's safe to remove.

    Good to know that I can recover from an accidental bricking. Might even just try it for kicks?? naaah bad idea ;P

    Great article!!

  • Erik

    When I try to do the reboot recovery after doing the bootstrap recovery and everything is successful, my phone reboots but after it gets to the Motorola's M, it freezes on a black screen. Any suggestions?

  • Amir

    I just tried twice to root my Bionic but got following error at the end.
    ERROR: adb could not be granted root access via local.prop method

    Try again from the start, but if the problem continues, check your version
    of Gingerbread -- hopefully you don't have a version where this exploit
    was fixed.

  • rveach

    Pete's Motorola Root Tools dropbox file is gone and the main site for it says it is no longer supported. So how do I root my device now?

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