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 owns 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. This means you can have full control of your server at any given time—but many people can be allowed root access. Ideally, you’re letting professionals manage your hosting on a day to day basis (which means they have root access), but you also retain root access just in case you want a closer 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 basically 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 (and it likely won’t fall in your favor). If you own hardware, you should be able to take full control at your leisure. Root access should not be optional, but rather a requirement.
Actually Accessing the Root
How to actually use root access depends on your type of server. For example, a Linux-based server requires an SSH connection (this requires the username to be “root”) as well as the root password and IP address that has been earmarked for the server. You should get all of this information at once after the server has been set up. If you misplace it, a good setup team will quickly supply it again. A variety of client software can establish the connection you need.
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 of Windows servers.
What if You Don’t Know How to Manage the Server?
Unless you’re in the industry or a serious self-taught techie, most people don’t really know what to do even if they log in as Administrator or Root, and that’s okay—that’s why you have professionals handling it. 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 hardware 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).
A great hosting company should offer root access, but should take the reins in most situations. Their goal should be giving you control but also one-click style of management. If you were an expert at server management, you’d probably be hosting an in-house dedicated server. Root access might not ever be used by a client, but it’s important to have.