Definition of root in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Root (in computer science)?

The base of a hierarchical file system. The root directory contains the tree of directories and files that make up the file system. The symbol used to represent this directory depends on whether the file system is on a Microsoft Windows platform or a UNIX platform. Windows designates the root with a backslash (\), and UNIX uses a forward slash (/). The root directory is the first element in the absolute path of a file or directory on the file system.


The term “root” can also refer to the user with the highest level of administrative rights, especially on a UNIX system. Other names for this user are SuperUser (UNIX), Supervisor (NetWare), and Administrator (Windows NT).

The term “root” can also refer to the highest-level entity in a directory system structure. For example, the root of Active Directory in Windows 2000 is the RootDSE object.