When you have a virtual private server (VPS), you get “full root access” or sysadmin access—which doesn’t come with basic shared hosting plans. Since having VPS is “virtually” the same as having a dedicated server, it means you can be in full control. You basically own that server (or at least the virtual slice of it that’s been delegated just to you). That’s great, but what does it really mean? What does root access entail, what can you do with it, and why do you want it?
A “root server user” is the highest access level available. You have total privilege to manage all the settings, files and logs on the server. You may also be called the administrator of the server. If you’ve ever had a pop-up on your computer saying ‘the system administrator needs to allow access,’ it’s referring to the root user. Some of the most common tasks root users complete include: editing files on the server, configuring server-wide applications (MySQL, Apache, etc.), and installing server-wide applications.
Prepping Your To-Do List
Having root access means you can customize your server however you see fit. A lot of root users upgrade PHP via EasyApache or install/configure ClamAV plugin for cPanel. You might want to install Munin plugin for WHM, or identify the best email autoresponders or forwarders for your needs. You can pinpoint spam script location via Exim, or locate email accounts that are being used to send spam. When you know the email delivery times for an email address or can search spam activity via subject with Exim, you can regain a lot of control over email issues and streamline your business’ processes.
Management of Exim email queue via SSH or WHM is also within your control. Process backed-up Exim mail queues, or take a look at the summary to make sure everything’s in order. If you rely on SpamAssassin (as most root users do), you can see how many times it’s running and how effective it is. Sysadmins can copy all mail to an email address via Exim, copy accounts from other servers where you have root access, or copy numerous accounts from a different server where you have root access.
Use cPHulk Brute Force Protection if you like, or even merge a number of cPanel accounts into one for easier management. You can also split a cPanel account into numerous accounts with SSH. Change the server time zone of MySQL, or customize php.ini files per user via FastCGI. Manage POP3 mail service, ModSecurity for domains, directory indexes at a service-wide level, or utilize Linux (if that’s your OS) top command while in batch mode.
The options of what you can do with root access have a sky-high limit. However, if you don’t consider yourself tech savvy (or you don’t want to manage all of these tasks), don’t worry. You can often choose a managed VPS plan, tell the web host how you want the operation to work, and sit back while the experts handle everything for you.