Shared web hosting users are never permitted access to their site root. Such shared sites contain dozens, or even hundreds, of websites from different clients, so providing root access would infringe on other peoples' website security. Thus, you may only access a site root if you sign up for a dedicated or virtual private server, or VPS, hosting package.
A site root refers to the top-most directory level of a website or server. It is an especially coveted feature in the web hosting industry, because of all the benefits available to those with "root access." It all comes down to control. Without access to the site root, you are basically limited to those services and solutions that the provider feels you should have.
How you access your site root depends on the type of plan you choose. There are primarily two types of hosting plans: Windows and Linux. Those with a Windows server must use a remote desktop application, whereas those with Linux can access the root directory directly through an SSH-compliant FTP application. The latter provides greater flexibility.
Site Root Benefits
When you have access to a site root, that means you can remove pre-installed software packages that you do not need and replace them with those you do. With a shared hosting plan, you are essentially limited to whatever applications come with the server. Another benefit is the ability to back up everything on the server.
A few web hosting providers provide a limited form of root access wherein you can install custom apps, but you cannot delete anything or access other clients' website pages. Host Gator, for instance, supports SSH root access for shared clients via its control panel interface. The C-Panel module ensures you do not try to do anything improper, such as delete something vital.