And that brings me to all the different ways to experience Minecraft.
Probably the simplest way is to install the game on your personal computer and play solo. You can even have a few buddies join over your local network and play without distraction.
Of course, if you’ve ever played Minecraft, you know how great it is to join a broader community on one of the top Minecraft servers. That’s why most players go on online servers where they can try out a variety of game modes, maps, and features.
But where do Minecraft servers come from, and can you run your own server?
This is where Minecraft server hosting comes in. These services let you set up your own server and determine the rules. Other players would come to you, and your server could become the hub of one Minecraft community.
Getting hosting for Minecraft is an entirely different way to enjoy the game.
Let’s cover some of the benefits you can achieve through Minecraft hosting sites.
Minecraft Server Hosting Advantages
Running a private gaming server for your Minecraft setup yields various benefits. Let’s go over the big ones:
A thing many players enjoy about hosting their own server is having the full freedom to make any changes or create rules.
Want to create a role-playing server in a wonky fantasy world? You can do just that. Interested in invite-only questing events? It’s on the table.
If you buy a Minecraft server, you get to choose the rules. Whatever you want for your Minecraft world, you can have it. And, if anyone tries to violate the rules, you can just boot them from the server.
You can turn Minecraft into the exact unique, crazy game you want by running your own server.
Modding is arguably one of the most rewarding aspects of gaming. Even if you don’t create mods yourself, trying out all the awesome stuff generated by the gaming community is the gateway to hours of exciting gameplay.
The thing about joining someone else’s server is that you only get to enjoy the mods they run. The same goes for the game map, game mode, and any installed plugins. Somebody else designs the game everyone gets to play. True, there are some really creative servers out there, but joining players don’t get a say in what gets included.
When you rent a Minecraft server, it’s a whole different story. You can install and try out anything you want without restrictions.
So, if you play Minecraft and have great ideas for a world of your own, purchasing MC hosting might be the right move.
The community aspect is a massive part of Minecraft. Many server admins enjoy gathering an audience around their creation and seeing everyone participate in its ecosystem.
Now, it’s certainly possible to be a part of a community without purchasing server hosting. That said, there is a particular kind of allure in seeing others enjoy what you’ve created. This is what attracts many players to Minecraft hosts.
This doesn’t have as much to do with the game itself but it has with the servers working correctly.
Just think, how many times did you have an enjoyable session interrupted by a server crash? Latency issues, DDoS attacks, and servers with low graphics settings can be just as annoying. These are all fixable problems but can make the game unplayable.
You can get past all of this by getting your own server. As long as you can configure the server properly, all you need is a host with strong security, broad geographical coverage, and enough server resources.
I’ll cover exactly how to find the best Minecraft server host in the next section, so check this out if you’re new to hosting.
Minecraft for Teaching
Of course, Minecraft can be used for more than just having fun.
For years now, teachers have been finding ways to incorporate Minecraft into their lessons. Students simply love the game, and it has proven an excellent way to engage them in learning.
This is such an effective method, there is now a Minecraft Education Edition. Plus, you can access countless maps designed for teaching everything from history to coding.
Many Minecraft hosting sites also offer discounts for schools using Minecraft in the classroom. If you’re looking for a fresh way to engage students, setting up a Minecraft server could be a crafty solution.
Finally, running a Minecraft server can be a good way to make a few extra bucks. Minecraft Terms and Conditions prevent ordinary players from profiting, but admins are legally allowed to monetize their servers.
Subscription-based and pay-to-enter servers are just some of the options. Server owners can sell in-game items or collect donations, much like Twitch streamers. Many players feel responsible to support the servers they enjoy, so Minecraft can very well make you extra cash.
So, if you’re a Minecraft fan looking for a project to run, a Minecraft server could turn into your business.
If you think Minecraft hosting is for you, let’s jump right into choosing an MC hosting provider.
How to Choose a Quality Minecraft Hosting Provider?
Choosing a server host is always a tricky business, especially if you’re a first-timer. There are so many providers out there with seemingly amazing offers, all promising they have the best Minecraft setup around.
How do you separate the best from the rest, then? It’s tough determining who provides good service when all you have access to is the provider’s website.
To help you out, I’ll outline the things to look out for when picking a Minecraft host. These are the essential qualities to ensure you get a positive experience and avoid any issues with the host. You can even use the following as a checklist when investigating Minecraft hosts yourself.
Let’s dig right in:
System Requirements and Server Resources
Let’s start with the big one for all gaming servers. A server should fulfill at least basic requirements to let you play the game.
The good news is Vanilla Minecraft isn’t all that demanding. You should have 1 Intel Pentium 4 2.0 GHz CPU core or better and 1GB RAM to run the basic game with around 5 players. Also, look for at least 3Mbps download and 2Mbps upload connection, or the server might miss ticks.
Minecraft isn’t particularly storage heavy. As long as you have around 5-10GB of space, you should be fine.
One thing to watch out for is SSD storage. This type of drive is much faster and can improve game performance. All the best Minecraft server hosts already adopted SSDs over the traditional HDD storage. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.
The servers should have JRE installed before you set up Minecraft. Java is platform-agnostic, though, so installing this is a non-issue. And any half-decent Minecraft host has it set up by default.
These are the bare minimum to make the base game playable. If a provider doesn’t fulfill them, game performance will likely suffer, or you won’t be able to run it at all.
If you want to host more players simultaneously or mod the game, you might need more resources. For instance, a modded Minecraft server with an app like Feed the Beast requires at least 3-4GB RAM.
Another good rule of thumb is to get 100MB of extra RAM per player, though this also depends on how much modding you do. A large server with a global audience can easily eat 16GB RAM or more, though you likely won’t ever need this much.
Many Minecraft server hosting websites suggest an optimal number of slots based on each hosting plan. Open slots determine the number of players that can simultaneously join a server. If you run a public server, you might want to set a limit yourself. This prevents too many players from draining all the resources and jeopardizing game performance.
As long as the provider leaves you unlimited slots, there is nothing to worry about.
Some providers, however, do impose a hard cap on slots, which you should look out for. If a provider, for instance, offers you “unlimited RAM” but caps player slots at 20, that should give you an idea of how much resources you can actually spend.
Most of the top MC hosts leave the slot cap up to you, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Data Center Location
Latency is a big deal in online gaming, hence this part being so important. Nothing ruins a game like too much lag.
Many factors contribute to this, but the physical distance between the players and the game server is a big one. The closer the two are, the faster the player’s machine can respond to the requests from the server and vice versa—it’s as simple as that.
The best course of action is to pick a provider with data centers near your location (or wherever most of the players are located). A decent Minecraft server host should have a choice of servers around the world, letting anyone join the game.
Of course, if you want to host a server for your friends and all of your party is in roughly the same location, a local hosting provider will do just as well. As long as there is one server nearby, you should have no issues.
Many providers help you out here and let you ping their servers to check the latency. You can easily do this by downloading a ping test tool or simply open the command prompt and type “ping [server IP address] -t.” Mac and Linux users can do the same through the terminal “ping [server IP address].”
Most of the best hosting providers in the field have broad coverage, but it never hurts to be careful.
Running a Minecraft server without a control panel is entirely possible.
You can install everything manually, including all the plugins and mods, and do all the management tasks through the command line.
While many experienced administrators prefer to handle management this way, most server owners aren’t advanced sysadmins. Typical clients need a more straightforward way to manage their gaming servers.
That’s why the majority of the best Minecraft server hosts include a control panel specialized for Minecraft. Some providers even develop an in-house control panel that makes it easier to handle management tasks.
For the most part, hosts let you use Multicraft. This is the industry-standard solution, and many of the custom control panels are based on it. It lets you handle everything from deploying different servers, minigames, plugins, and mods, over managing players, to performing backups and other server administration tasks.
The solution even integrates with various billing software. If you want to sell Minecraft hosting yourself, you can easily set everything up.
Keep in mind you’ll usually get this with specialized Minecraft hosts, but a standard VPS or dedicated server might not include a control panel. If you need one, you can still download Multicraft—the panel is completely free for servers with under 10 player slots.
Of course, it’s usually preferable to go with a host that offers a panel by default. Not only do you get all the advantages, but you can rely on the provider to maintain the control panel with the rest of the server.
With the growing popularity of phones and tablets, many users prefer to experience Minecraft on their mobile devices. This is why most providers offer Minecraft Bedrock server hosting.
Bedrock servers are usually a bit lower-end since the game is less demanding and has fewer modding options than Minecraft Java. Still, the plans should feature much of the similar advantages to the desktop version hosting, except running a different game mode.
A few of the best Minecraft server hosts take this one step further and offer a management app for mobile devices. This means you can both play and access your server settings from your phone or tablet.
If you plan to manage your servers on the run, this is a fantastic asset.
A huge part of Minecraft fun is trying many plugins and combining them with different mods and minigame maps. Many of these add entirely new functionality to the game, and some can improve the overall Minecraft playability a lot.
Installing most of these on Minecraft Java is not an issue. As long as you have FTP access, you can just drop custom JARs and mods into the server files and be good to go.
Most specialized MC hosts let you deploy various server types, mods, and plugins right from the control panel. All it takes is one click to set up a Modded Minecraft server.
Typically, you get access to tools like CraftBukkit and Spigot for managing plugins and Forge to try modpacks. This adds tens of thousands of modifications you can make to your game and adds practically infinite customizability.
Ideally, you should find a provider that supports as many plugins as possible. Even if you only want to run a few particular mods now, it’s good to keep your options open.
A few providers, like BisectHosting, go as far as installing custom mods or putting together mods of your choice into a new modpack. This is the feature to look for if you need the best server host for modded Minecraft.
Security is a massive deal for multiplayer games. All servers face threats at some point, and game servers are particularly vulnerable to DDoS attacks.
You should look for providers that follow security practices like updating server technologies for you, encrypting hosted data, and providing DDoS protection.
The stronger the security, the less likely you are to suffer unnecessary downtime. It’s a simple thing to look out for, but it makes a massive difference.
Support is what many server owners overlook when picking a provider, especially if it’s their first time hosting an application.
First and foremost, you need a provider with a support team that’s available 24/7 and replies to queries as fast as possible. You can easily test this out by contacting the support team before you buy a Minecraft server.
The tech team agents should have lots of experience with the technicalities of running a server and fixing Minecraft-specific issues.
Some hosts provide their own learning materials on managing a Minecraft server. This can be a valuable resource if you don’t have experience but are looking to learn how to run a multiplayer Minecraft setup.
This one is a bit more abstract than the other factors. That said, a positive reputation is often one of the best indicators of quality hosting. After all, the provider’s website might be misleading, but you can rely on other server owners and Minecraft server hosting reviews to tell you what to expect.
User review websites and social sites like Reddit are good places to check what real users are saying about a provider. Just keep an eye out for biased or inaccurate reviews. It’s better to check what the overall feeling about a provider is than to rely on individual user reviews.
Of course, if you’re interested in a professional analysis of the top Minecraft server hosts, you can check the data just above.
Although important, the price should be one of the last things to consider when choosing a host.
With servers, you usually get what you pay for. Extremely cheap and free companies often cut corners, which leads to performance and security issues or worse.
You should expect around $5/month for the most basic server. However, the pricing with the leading Minecraft server hosting ranges anywhere from $1/month to $10/month. Keep in mind a small and very affordable server is usually only enough for 5-10 player slots and Vanilla Minecraft with no extra mods.
Around $20/month would be a more realistic price for a server that can handle a few dozen simultaneous players and support a few mods. If that’s a bit too much, you can always ask other players to chip in with donations and help support the server.
That covers the things to look out for when picking a server host. If you need a place to start, you can check out the Minecraft server hosting reviews above. The hosts there all reasonably fulfill all the prerequisite factors.
How to Set Up a Minecraft Server
Starting a Minecraft server from scratch can seem like a tricky business, particularly if you have no experience with server administration. Fortunately for everyone, many hosts make this as easy as one-two-three.
The first step is picking the most suitable Minecraft hosting provider for you. I covered what to look for in a host above. The big thing to look out for here, if you’re a beginner, is that a provider has an easy setup and a specialized control panel like Multicraft.
The thing is that if you go with a specialized host, like Apex, setting up a server is as straightforward as picking the server type from a dropdown menu. And if you want to install a server the provider doesn’t support, all you have to do is download its JAR file and upload it to the server via the control panel FTP.
That’s really the only thing you have to do to set up a functional server. You can also easily access the DNS records so you can start playing in 1-2 minutes from purchasing a plan.
From there, the panel makes it easy to both manage your game, do server administration, and install any additional plugins and mods. You might have to upload some files if you’re going with a Minecraft mod server host, but that’s about the most technically complicated thing you need to do.
Running a control panel makes it easy for beginners to handle all the complicated tasks you would otherwise have to do in the command line. If you aren’t keen on server management, it’s best to go with a specialized provider that automates most tasks.
Setting up Minecraft Through the CLI
Of course, you can install Minecraft on just about any server that fulfills the base system requirements. Naturally, handling everything this way is more complicated and requires some experience using the command line. Plus, you can’t rely on the support if you’re not hosted with a specialized Minecraft hosting service.
The first step is to check if your server has the latest version of JRE installed. If not, download the latest version of Java.
One thing to point out is the exact CLI commands depend on the operating system family and often on the distribution of Linux. If you need to know precisely what to type, you can check out the step-by-step instructions for your OS on the official Minecraft Wiki.
Once that’s done, download Minecraft Server and upload it to a separate folder on your server. Minecraft Server is free to download, but you’ll still need to pay for the game to play.
Run the JAR file to start the installation. It will create a eula.txt file that you’ll need to open and change the line that says “eula=false” to “eula=true.” This signifies you accept the terms and conditions.
Execute the Minecraft JAR file once more, and the server will be running in the background.
From here, you can install whatever add-on apps you need, as long as your JAR supports them. Since you’re with a general-use provider, you don’t have to worry about the host supporting what you want to install. A non-specialized VPS plan can be the best option for Minecraft mods, since you have 100% freedom in configuring it.
Many guides out there mention opening port 25565 to let other users access your Minecraft server. This is only necessary if you’re hosting Minecraft on your local network. If you need to do this, you can check out more details on portforwarding.com.
From there, you can adjust game settings from the files in the server.properties folder. Some of the more common settings include changing the game mod, max player slots, and world size. Even on typical hosting, these are pretty easy to handle, though the best Minecraft hosting services make it even easier.
You’ll need to handle most other configuration tasks, like setting up cron jobs or restarting the server, manually, i.e., via the command line.
Running a Minecraft server without a specialized control panel is obviously more complicated. If you just want to enjoy the game and not worry about the underlying infrastructure, a specialized host will likely be better.
That said, many technical users enjoy the efficiency of the command line. Plus, doing everything manually frees up server resources and helps you get around the cost of a control panel license.
Another great advantage of renting a Minecraft server and managing it manually is learning the basics of server management. You don’t typically need to do anything insanely advanced to manage Minecraft effectively, so it’s a great way to get started.
What is more, younger students typically love Minecraft, so this is a fantastic way to possibly introduce them to basic server administration.
For most users, a specialized host with a user-friendly control panel is much easier to handle.
That concludes the Minecraft server hosting review. You now know who has the top Minecraft servers. I also covered what MC hosting is, why use it, and how to pick the top hosting provider.
Good luck on your Minecraft journey!