Install a custom ROM on your smartphone
However, there are still some important issues to take into account before you dive in. For a start, installing a new operating system on any sort of device always involves a small element of risk.
So long as you follow the installation instructions carefully, you shouldn’t have a problem – after all, millions of people have successfully tried out CyanogenMod before you.
CyanogenMod runs almost identically on every device, but the installation procedure can vary significantly. That’s because different manufacturers apply different security measures to prevent unauthorised meddling – and the various tools that hackers have come up with to circumvent these measures tend to work in different ways.
The CyanogenMod wiki gives step-by-step guidance for a wide range of hardware. Click here for our guide to the process of installing the firmware on the popular Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone.
But if you do get something wrong, it’s eminently possible to leave your phone in a non-bootable state.
Recovering from a botched installation such as this can be a daunting and stressful process, and you can’t assume that your mobile operator will be able or willing to help you.
Even once CyanogenMod is installed and up and running, your chief source of help is likely to be web forums, not the friendly call centre you may be used to.
You’ll probably be outside of the terms of your warranty, too: if your phone develops a physical fault, you might want to reinstall the stock operating system, if possible, before sending it back.
Before taking the plunge you should also be aware that – as with most operating systems – it’s safest to install CyanogenMod as a clean installation. There’s no need to format the device completely: personal data files such as music and videos won’t do any harm.
But it’s a good idea to wipe all previously installed applications before upgrading, and reinstall them afterwards.
If you’re using Google backup, your phone numbers and various settings will be automatically restored; but you’re likely to lose app-specific data such as saved game positions.
If you don’t like the sound of that, check online to see whether these files can be backed up and restored at a later date.
Finally, it’s important to understand that the CyanogenMod installation process entails “rooting” your phone – that is, breaking some of the security protocols that limit what software can do. This has implications for security.
What hardware can run it?
The first version of CyanogenMod ran on the HTC Dream, but the current stable edition – CyanogenMod version 7.1 – supports more than 60 devices, with unofficial forks and experimental releases available for many more.