Access to the root of your VPS hosting server means that you have full control over every part of the virtual server. You can install any software that you need, as if you were truly working with a dedicated physical server. You can also divide the space and resources however you wish, and even change control panels and, in some cases, operating systems.
However, in most cases, being granted VPS root access also means that you are responsible for everything that happens with your server. You decide how you want to handle security measures, and you handle them accordingly.
In addition, depending upon how you want to use your server, you may not need root access.
For instance, you do not need VPS root access if you want to:
- Host only one website
- Use a standard operating system such as Linux or Windows with few adjustments
- Use only the standard control panel and its normal features
- Rely on the VPS hosting company for security and maintenance
- Host a site which gets a steady amount of traffic every day
On the other hand, you do need VPS root access if you want to:
- Run a game or chat server
- Resell all or part of your hosting service
- Host multiple domains
- Set up security according to your own needs and standards
- Be able to respond quickly to increased traffic or traffic surges
Some VPS hosting accounts are managed, but also include root access. This means that the hosting company does provide basic security and related functions, as well as technical support, but clients can modify the VPS virtual machine for their own needs. In such cases, the hosting provider usually does not take responsibility for any outside software packages or other code that is installed in the main directory, but it does provide standard control panel and security software. Such a managed solution is usually the ideal for resellers as well as for most Web developers who want to have the freedom to customize their servers when necessary, but who may not be inclined to concern themselves with routine server maintenance tasks.
VPS root access does allow the level of control that a dedicated server does, at a fraction of the price. However, some VPS hosting packages, especially those which are intended for users who want the convenience of managed shared hosting but need the speed and reliability of a VPS account, do not allow root access so as to ensure the stability and security of the server.