What Is Sideloading On Android & Is It Safe?

Google Play Store offers a lot of apps sorted in different categories to install. Some apps improve the functionality of your phone, some could solve the different purposes such as optimization. However, not all the apps you want to install are available on Google Play Store. There could be various reasons for the same, it could be the dubious nature of the app or Android’s version for your device which is not compatible with the app.

In these cases, if you want to install an app, you need to do it old-school, e.g. by downloading the .apk file from the installer, then the process is called sideloading,

Before you get to installing apps through sideloading, let’s know about the sideloading process and if it is safe to proceed with the method.

Sideloading is a word which simply means installing apps which are not available on Google Play Store. Usually an app can be installed from Google Play Store, however, downloading from an external source is also an option. The process wherein you have to tweak some settings on your device and locate the .apk file and install the app is termed as sideloading.

Now comes the question, why would anyone want to sideload an app.

Not having an app on Google Play Store could mean a lot of things, such as app not fulfilling the terms & conditions of the Play Store or the app is infamous. However, there are apps which are good but not available on Play Store, for those apps to get installed on your device, you need to use sideloading technique.

Also, the app is not available for your region could also be a simple explanation of a good app not showing on your Google Play Store. Some of the apps when launched are targeted to certain regions and if you want to install the app, you should belong to the region or you have to wait for the app to release for your region.

But why wait, when you can sideload apps. Well, sometimes you also copy or download .apk files from your computer, installing those apps also comes under sideloading.

Even if you have downloaded or bought an app from a legit source which is Google Play Store, then also the installed app is a sideloaded app.

In short, legit or illicit, whenever you download and install an app on Android device from a source other than Google Play Store, then it is referred to a sideload app and the process is termed as sideloading.

Up till now, we have understood what is sideloading, now in the next section, we will talk about the risks involved upon using the method.

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Is It Safe?

Whenever you start the process of sideloading, you get alerts and warnings from your device almost before every step. These warnings are shown to inform you about the security risks involved in using sideloading. As the .apk file you try to install might not be approved by Play Store and therefore it is not available there. The reasons could be many, but the one which should concern us is the app containing malicious code which you compromise your device.

When you sideload an app, you need to make sure that the app is legit. To do that, you must download an app from the developer’s website to avoid any malicious code sneaking in your device. Malware can pose a risk to your device’s security and could steal your data, or simply stuff unwanted ads to your browser or apps.

Therefore, make it a point to install an app either from the Google Play Store or a developer’s website.

Well, now that you have made up your mind to sideload an app, then before going further you must first assure that your device is secure. As you can’t be sure that the websites you are visiting are reliable. To do that, you need to get a VPN for your Android devices. One of the best VPNs which could solve the purpose is NordVPN. It efficiently encrypts your data that your device sends over the internet, irrespective of your location.  The issue usually arises when you are connected to public Wi-Fi, as users are vulnerable to hacking from other users connected to the network. This is possible as sharing the same network provides them permissions to access each other’s devices.

Therefore, data encryption is the best way to safeguard your device from identity theft, which has become a prominent issue.  VPN encryption masks your identity and doesn’t let ISP see what websites you browse.

To Conclude:

So, if you ever think to download an Android app, not from the usual source, i.e. Google Play Store, but from a developer’s website, then you must know about the risks it might pose. Also, before proceeding, make sure your network and your device are protected.

Once done, you must know how to sideload an app.

Liked the article? Have you tried to sideload an app on your Android? Do you have any tips to identify a legit .apk file and stay out of trouble? If yes, please share thoughts in the comments section below.

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