Unless you have been vacant from this planet for the last 6 or so years you are bound to have heard of Minecraft. It’s a title that changed the online gaming world drastically and gave birth to a new genre enjoyed by millions.
The craft and survive genre of games have created a new way for us to waste an unholy amount of time on our computers and consoles. The ability to invest massive time into a game world while maintaining a character is a great way to detach from this reality and embed yourself into something potentially much more rewarding.
Minecraft has attracted players of all ages and even people who were not really that into gaming before. It can morph into a different game every time you play it thanks to its sandbox structure. It has also evolved over the years due to its modding support that sees third-party developers produce new content for the game.
- Why would you want to set up a Minecraft server?
- Setting up a server on your home computer
- Setting up a server on a VPS/Dedicated machine
- Setting up a server using a ready to go package from a hosting provider
- Which method of hosting is best?
- How do I initially set up the Minecraft server to play on?
- Should I install any mod packs?
- How can I get more people to join my Minecraft server?
Why would you want to set up a Minecraft server?
Minecraft as a single player game can be fun. Bringing more players into your world with an online experience can magnify this by bringing in randomness and teamwork. Imagine watching an economy and social hierarchy blossom right in front of you, something that is rarely witnessed first-hand in the real world.
For online Minecraft play, you need a centralized server that keeps track of the world and what the players are doing so that it can relay that information to the other players. If the Minecraft world was kept on a players computer then that computer would need to be pretty high spec and to be always running. The computer hosting the game would also need to be connected to the internet 24/7.
Having a Minecraft server of your own would mean that you are able to set the rules yourself. You will have total control over who joins and then also be able to dictate who can build where on the map. Some Minecraft servers are purely for display and don’t allow any editing by visitors, this usually stops visitors ruining beautiful creations.
Setting up a server on your home computer
The main disadvantages to this are:
- Increased usage of electricity – as you are processing lots of information and rules going on in your world then your home computer will use more resources and sap more electricity.
- Increased usage of your internet (especially upload) – your household internet will be rapidly used up by people connecting to your machine. Your precious upload bandwidth (which is usually a lot more limited than your download) will be worse hit.
- Your computer’s resources will be used up by the server – this is not ideal if you are trying to play Minecraft yourself while hosting the server. You will have to share your machines resource 24 hours a day between the tasks you are performing and the ones that the server is.
- Increased security threat – with your computer exposed to the outside world and inviting anybody in you could be attracting attention from the wrong kinds of people.
You can find the step by step instructions on how to do this on the official Minecraft wiki page here. We won’t go into that here as that page is regularly updated as the game changes.
Setting up a server on a VPS/Dedicated machine
Setting up a server using a ready to go package from a hosting provider
The benefits of going for a ready-made solution are:
- The Control Panel – to get a Minecraft control panel to manage the difficult tasks of moderating players and setting things up you would have had to pay separately for a license for software to do this. With a ready to go Minecraft solution, you will get this chucked in for free.
- The Support – if you were to rent a VPS or dedicated server you will get support for the machine itself but nothing will be covered that you do on it. You wouldn’t be able to approach the hosting company support team and ask for help with a Minecraft server, they probably wouldn’t know the answers to your questions anyway.
- The Performance – the value for money that you get is great. You will have access to a mass of CPU power and usually pay for the RAM that you use. Storage is usually limitless (to an extent) as the companies can get this for cheap in bulk and pass the savings onto you.
- Instant – usually once you have paid your invoice for the Minecraft server hosting you can then jump in within minutes. The company will have a process in place that copies all the needed files for the latest Minecraft server and then set these up along with your control panel login details.
- Secure – the company that you bought the server solution from will have secured the machine that it is hosted on. It’s in thier interest to protect their business assets and they are most probably a lot more knowledgeable in this area than you are going to be!
Which method of hosting is best?
This question is going to be answered differently by different people, I recommend choosing these solutions if you fall into these categories:
- Looking for the free solution – if you are looking to spend nothing then set up a Minecraft server on your home computer, but be warned, this is the riskiest and potentially most annoying.
- Looking for a starter server – definitely, go with the ready to go solution. You will be able to get a server running for only dollars a month.
- Looking to host a huge server that already has a lot of players wanting to join in the hundreds – then go for the dedicated server or large VPS method. You will need to put in additional work but you will have more control over how the machine works that your server is hosted on.
How do I initially set up the Minecraft server to play on?
Now you have a Minecraft server running with a brand new blank world and no settings set it is time to jump in and get cracking.
Start by going through the following steps:
- Decide what world you want, have you already got a seed or a saved world map that you want to upload? If this is the case then get this sorted first.
- Set the rules, in the main config files, you will find the options that can be set to reduce griefing etc.
- Set the name of the server of the MOTD to inform people what your Minecraft server is about when they join.
- Create a whitelist of players if you know that you want to limit the server to only a few players that you know. This will stop random people finding and joining your server if this is not what you want.
Should I install any mod packs?
Now that you have set the basic rules and world for your Minecraft server you might want to kick it up a gear and install mods and modpacks. Mods (or plugins as they may be known as) add additional content to games while also changing the way things work. Some mods are for security and some make it easier to manage a server, some are just plain crazy and can alter games until they become something totally different. Beware though, you will need to make sure that the visitors to your Minecraft server have also got these mods/plugins running on their own version of the game.
After researching around the internet and setting up multiple Minecraft servers myself I have found that the following mods are the most useful:
- MyTown – The best way to make sure that players feel that what they create is safe is by setting up a claims system. With MyTown you can assign areas to players and then they can control who can modify the blocks within that zone. Players who continually lose their progress on a server from griefers will quickly find somewhere else to go and play.
- World Edit – Through commands that you enter into the chat dialog you can create structures and large areas of materials very quickly. This is a huge time saver if you are trying to build something of epic proportions and can potentially save hundreds of hours of time.
- PermissionsEX – Set the permissions of different players on your server quickly and easily through the command interface. With this plugin, you can set the ability to fly for example only for a few admin players while the rest of the server can’t.
- Lockette – If you have an area or a bunch of items you want to keep private then this mod is for your server. With this utility you can lock chests and doors in game so they are only controllable by you, keeping guests out of areas and away from your stuff.
How can I get more people to join my Minecraft server?
Creating an awesome server for you and your friends is great fun but what about opening it up to the public? This presents a whole bunch of new risks to your server which can be rectified using mods like the ones we spoke about above.
Making it so that people can find your server is a lot harder than it sounds, especially with Minecraft not having an official server list built into the game. Most games allow you to search for the available servers to join a panel connected to the main menu. Minecraft was never given a server browser, just the ability to connect to a server and then save it for later reconnections.
Luckily, after seeing a gap in the market a few pioneering developers jumped onto their computers and built websites that list Minecraft servers. These websites typically contain a lot of information about the type of server it is and the type of people you can expect to find on it. Here are some of the best sites that list Minecraft servers that you can browse through:
As a server owner yourself you can easily create a listing and get it put in front of an army of Minecraft players. If you are feeling bullish about your server and have a way for it to make money you can even pay to feature it and push it in front of more people than usual. Doing this is a great way to build up a community quicker. An empty server is going to scare off new players and existing users will probably seldom return.
We want to hear from you
Have you had a good or bad experience setting up a Minecraft server? We want to know in the comments and will try our best to help with any issues.