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Managed cpanel hosting servers - "root" level access?

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Mr. Awesome
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 6,069

Managed cpanel hosting servers - "root" level access?

Alright, I'll kick off this new managed hosting forum area with a discussion topic of interest to both providers and clients of managed hosting/servers.


We currently have several fully managed servers with different companies, and our providers give us a "root" user for whm. (ie: A normal WHM user with root privileges assigned in the reseller center area.)

We also have other managed servers with providers who don't allow this.. because they claim that if we have ANY type of "root access" then they can't gaurantee the level of support/service/management.

We prefer to use the providers who allow us to have "root" WHM user access, because it makes our job much easier to provide 1st level helpdesk/support to our own customers. (ie: We don't need to contact our provider just to restore a backup, or tweak stats settings, etc...) Otherwise, we would just have a big reseller account and we'd always be going back to our provider for every little issue.. and that would create a big support problem for us with our own clients, who perhaps just want a simple restore done, etc...

Obviously, we are VERY VERY careful what links we push, as we don't want to screw up the server by doing something that we are paying the admin/management company to do. So far, we've never had a problem.

What do you think about this?

If you're a managed server client - what is your opinion? Do you want a root-level user? Why? Why not?

If you're a managed server provider - do you offer root-level WHM user access (not root user, etc). Why or why not?

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Web Hosting Master
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,162
We are a managed server provider.

We always provide those customers that want it with root access. We have had a few instances of customers messing things up, but typically they are honest enough to own up to it. We like to educate our customers as much as takes more time up front, but in the long run, it creates less work.

For example, we have one managed customer that routinely asks things such as
"How do I change the permissions on a directory and all of its subdirectories?"

Obviously they are doing this as root and could create some serious problems for themselvers, however, by providing a detailed answer, we can also help them learn how to do it and we won't have to do it for them everytime.

However, we also have some customers that don't want to do it themselves and we are happy to service them as well.

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Web Hosting Evangelist
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: New York, USA
Posts: 466
never give root access

We NEVER give root access for our managed clients. Why? because if the managed provider is say responsible for security then who's to say the client puts software that is insecure. It's very hard to audit what was done to the server by the customer, who's to say changing one configuration file makes the server wide open?

The difference of managed hosting to just a dedicated server is IMHO defined by who's the administrator. If the customer is paying us to be the administrator then why should they need root access?

In addition, you can give superuser rights to many things without giving up complete 'root' access. In the rare cases the customer needs root we do it for them as part of the managed services. With our policy we've never had an issue with our customers and the managed hosting is why they are coming to us to begin with.

Larry Ludwig
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Web Hosting Guru
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 292
I agree with Larry. Clients who choose managed servers are doing so for a reason. Because they dont have the skills to do it. So why invite trouble by giving root. Sure if someone really wants it then we will give it to them. But that is only after advising them of the potiential damage that they can do.

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Corporate Member
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Singapore
Posts: 708
We are a managed service provider.

We dont give root/administrator access to our customer. The main reason is due to the requirement of audit and our service level agreement.

For each managed service client, we draft a service level agreement based on their requirement, it will stated clearly our job scope and responsibility.

Every task execute on our customer server is logged for audit purpose. Every change request from our customer have to be documented. Our engineer follow strictly what can do and what cannot do based on the SLA.


Alan Woo, alan [@]
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Retired Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Reading, England
Posts: 4,243
No root access given here either, the account is seen more like a large reseller account for any clients really.


Web Hosting Master
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 639
we don't even give goot access to in-house employed level1 technical support


Retired Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,009
We offer full root access, not just WHM "root" access to our managed dedicated clients. I just fail to see how someone after paying hundreds monthly is not allowed full access to their servers.

Obviously we advice the clients to check with us if there's anything at all that they are unsure about. And if a client repeatedly use the root access to undermine our ability to provide management services, we will advice them that if that is continued, we would find it hard to support them.

In our experience, we never had issues with it, except for one client.

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Junior Guru Wannabe
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 73
Im a managed server client and have full root access to my server. I tend to do most of my server upgrades and tweaks myself but like to have the management to fall back on - im not going to pretend i know everything but am willing to learn, i fluently use ssh so couldnt afford to go with a company that does not offer root access.

Unless you are getting instant support all the time its not always best to use a managed service. I believe there are many users like myself that only use the management on an as-is basis when they really need to - if im paying £*** p/m i would like to know that i can do as i wish without having to rely on anyone else.

if there is anything i am unsure about i will ask and hopefully learn from anything they can help with. In terms i always look for a company that is willing to help their clients not just do it all for them.


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