You might notice some web hosts offering you “root access”, but what does that even mean?
In web hosting and server management, it’s critical that you (the one who actually operates the server) can get to the “root problems” as they pop up. Root access is the term used for having an administrator level for logging in to cloud servers, VPS hosting, dedicated servers or Enlight Cloud VMs.
“Root” means you have full control of the server at any given time, and can literally issue whatever commands you like on the server. In some instances you might let professionals manage your hosting on a day to day basis (which means they’ll require root access), but you also retain root access, just in case you want a personal look at what’s going on with your server.
When you have total control of your server, you can host limitless websites, create a game server, host third party applications or software, and ultimately maintain it as you like.
Of course, if you have someone else doing basic maintenance and who also has root access, you can give them instructions on what you want done while still retaining “overlord” status. If a web host doesn’t offer you root access, there’s probably a reason why, like you’d break something if you logged in and tried to use it. In such cases, the hosting company themselves will do all the server management for you, which for most people is probably a good thing.
How to actually use root access depends on your type of server. For example, a Linux-based server requires an SSH connection (and the username itself will actually be “root”), as well as the root password, SSH port and IP address of the server. You should get all of this information once the server has been set up (if you are managing the server yourself). If you misplace it, a good hosting support team will quickly supply it again.
There are also Windows-based servers, which require a remote desktop connection and using “Administrator” as your username. Again, you’ll need the password and IP address. The Remote Desktop Connecter manager, which is offered by Microsoft, is the go-to approach for many owners Windows server users.
Don’t Know How to Manage the Server?
Unless you’re in the industry or a self-taught techie, most people wouldn’t know what to do even if they could log in to a server as Administrator or Root, and that’s completely fine and why getting managed hosting like BlueHost is usually the best option.
After all, a lot of people don’t know how to maintain a collector car, either, but that doesn’t mean they don’t adore their collection. You’re not expected to be able to manage and maintain servers, but if you own the server hardware (called colocation) then it should certainly be an option. Just like nobody would stop you from tinkering with your 1965 Mustang (even if you don’t know what you’re doing), nobody should stop you from managing your server in any way you like (as long as it’s legal, of course).
The goal of a great hosting company should be giving you control but also one-click style of management.