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How Do I Start My Own Free Minecraft Server?

Have you always wanted to create a Minecraft server that you and your friends can play on together, but don‘t want to deal with recurring hosting fees or server rental costs? Well, I‘ve got great news – starting your own free Minecraft server is totally doable for anyone with a bit of time and motivation!

In this in-depth guide, I‘ll walk you through step-by-step how to set up your own Minecraft server on your home computer or an old laptop. I‘ll cover everything from choosing a server type, downloading the server software, optimizing performance, troubleshooting issues, and even great options for free third-party hosting services.

By the end, you‘ll have all the knowledge to start crafting awesome Minecraft experiences with your crew! Let‘s get started.

Why Run Your Own Free Server?

Here are some of the top reasons you may want to create your own DIY Minecraft server:

  • Complete control – You make the rules and decide what gets built or added. No more annoying admins!

  • Customization – Add any mods, plugins, or data packs you want for unique gameplay.

  • Cost savings – Hosting your own server is 100% free. No recurring monthly charges to worry about.

  • Ownership – The server belongs to you. Build something lasting.

  • Learning – Running a server teaches valuable skills – networking, Linux, troubleshooting, teamwork.

  • Community – Play with old friends and meet new ones. Create something together.

While DIY hosting takes more effort than paid 3rd party services, for most small groups of friends the benefits far outweigh the costs.

According to Spaceided, over 1 million new Minecraft servers are created per year globally. So you‘ll be joining quite a community!

Key Options for Server Types

The first big decision – what type of Minecraft server should you run? Here‘s a quick rundown of what‘s available:

Java Edition Server

  • Runs the original PC Java version of the game.
  • Allows the most mods and plugin customization.
  • Requires decent computer specs – 2GB+ of RAM ideally.
  • Only works with the Java Minecraft client.

Bedrock Dedicated Server

  • Optimized for cross-platform play with mobile, console, and Win10.
  • Has lower minimum hardware requirements.
  • Limited mod and plugin options compared to Java.
  • Supports all Bedrock edition Minecraft clients.
PlatformsWindows, Mac, LinuxWindows, Linux
Mods/PluginsExtensive supportLimited options
Hardware Needed2GB+ RAMCan run on 1GB+ RAM

For maximum control and mods, Java edition is generally best. But if cross-platform play is a must, Bedrock may be your only option.

Downloading the Server Software

Once you‘ve decided on edition, it‘s time to grab the server software files:

For Java Edition

For Bedrock Edition

Be sure to always download server files from official sources like Mojang to avoid malware risks. You‘ll also want to periodically update to the latest version for bug fixes and new features.

Setting Up Your Minecraft Server

Once downloaded, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new folder like "MinecraftServer" to hold all your server files. Keep things organized!

  2. Move the JAR/executable into this folder. Delete any other junk that got downloaded.

  3. Make a eula.txt file and set eula=true to accept the EULA.

  4. Port forward your router to allow external connections – Google "your router model port forward".

  5. Launch the server – double click the JAR or run java -Xmx2G -Xms2G -jar server.jar

  6. Let the server generate default config files and shutdown once it‘s done.

  7. Adjust server properties – edit to your liking.

  8. Restart – your Minecraft server should now be ready for connections!

This covers the basic steps, but let‘s dive into more details…

Accepting the EULA

The EULA (End User License Agreement) is the legal contract between you and Mojang when running a Minecraft server.

To indicate you agree with the terms, simply create a blank eula.txt file and add the line:


You MUST do this, or the server will refuse to launch.

Opening Server Ports

For players outside your home to connect, you‘ll need to "port forward" port 25565 (Java) or 19132 (Bedrock) from your router to your computer running the server.

This basically tells the router "Hey – any incoming requests on port 25565 should be sent to my computer here."

Steps vary by router model, but try this:

  1. Login to your router configuration page ( usually).
  2. Find the port forwarding or virtual servers section.
  3. Create a new rule forwarding port 25565/19132 to your computer‘s IP.
  4. Save settings and you‘re done!

There are lots of port forward tutorials online if you get stuck here.

Configuring Server Properties

The file contains all the settings for your Minecraft server – gamemode, difficulty, world names, etc.

Some key properties to set based on your preferences:

  • gamemode – 0=Survival, 1=Creative, 2=Adventure
  • difficulty – 0=Peaceful, 1=Easy, 2=Normal, 3=Hard
  • allow-nether – Allow travel to nether (true/false)
  • level-name – Name of your main world

I‘d recommend starting in Creative mode while you build and test things out. Later you can switch to Survival for added challenge!

Connecting to Your Minecraft Server

Now comes the fun part – actually playing on your new server! Here‘s how to connect:

On the Same Local Network

If playing on the same LAN, just use your private IP like when adding the server in Minecraft.

Remotely Over the Internet

For remote connections, your friends will need your public IP address instead. You can find this by Googling "What is my IP".

Give your public IP to friends so they can add the server. Make sure port forwarding is set up correctly!

Whitelisting Players

You can edit the whitelist.json file to restrict server access only to approved players. This helps keep unwanted griefers out.

Add your friends‘ usernames or UUIDs to the whitelist array and reload the file in-game with /reload.

Now only whitelisted players can join!

Managing Your Minecraft Server

Now that things are setup, let‘s go over common server management tasks:

In-Game Commands

The main in-game commands you‘ll want to know are:

  • /gamemode – Change player gamemodes
  • /time set – Control day/night cycles
  • /kick – Kick misbehaving players
  • /ban – Permanently ban griefers
  • /whitelist – Manage whitelisted players
  • /tp – Teleport around

Grab an ops permission level to use these commands.

Installing Plugins

Plugins add powerful admin tools, minigames, anti-griefing protection and more to a Minecraft server.

Some popular options include:

  • WorldEdit – Advanced in-game world editing and terraforming.
  • WorldGuard – Region protection to safeguard builds.
  • Essentials – Useful commands like warps, spawns, mail.
  • ChestShop – Create an in-game economy and shops.

Drop new plugins in the /plugins folder and restart the server to add them. But watch for conflicts!

Performing Backups

Be sure to regularly back up your world folder somewhere safe. This protects against corruption, inadvertent damage, or hardware failure.

Full world backups let you easily roll back to a previous state or restore creations.

Monitoring Performance

Keep an eye on your server CPU, RAM, and disk usage as you play to spot any issues.

Tools like htop or glances on Linux make this easy. Over 85% memory usage generally causes lag.

If performance lags, reduce render distance, pregenerate terrain, or add more RAM.

Optimizing Your Minecraft Server

A well-optimized server maintains high performance and stability for all players. Try these tips:

  • Reduce render distance to 6 chunks or lower. Lower is less intensive for the server.
  • Limit chunk generation with Paper‘s per-player-mob-spawns setting.
  • Pregenerate terrain around common areas to reduce workload.
  • Add more RAM – Minecraft servers need 2-5GB allocated depending on plugins.
  • Monitor with New Relic or BStats to identify lag sources.
  • Remove inactive plugins to reduce overhead.
  • Spread activity across multiple worlds to manage computing demand.

With optimization, your server can smoothly support 10-20 players on a decent home machine.

Troubleshooting Common Server Issues

Even seasoned admins run into problems at times. Here are some common headaches and how to treat them:

Connection issues – Ensure the port is properly forwarded. Restart networking devices and double check firewall rules. Try a different internet connection entirely as a test.

Random crashing – Plug instability is a prime suspect. Remove all plugins and slowly add them back one by one to isolate any conflicts. Check logs for memory errors indicating a RAM shortage.

Severe lag – Reduce render distance to 4 chunks and pregenerate spawn zones to lessen workload. Make sure hardware meets minimum requirements and the server has enough dedicated RAM/CPU.

Plugins misbehaving – Check for updates and ensure all plugins are compatible with the server version. Remove unused plugins to eliminate conflicts.

Carefully reading the logs almost always reveals what‘s wrong. Google error messages for solutions. Rebooting solves over half of issues!

Great Free Server Hosting Options

Running your own server can be a fun learning experience, but dealing with reliability and hardware constraints can also be a hassle.

Some excellent free external server hosting options to consider include:

Aternos – Launches Minecraft servers on demand for free. Easy to use but has idle timeouts requiring restart.

Minehut – Feature-rich free hosting with mods/plugins supported. Limited to 10 slots.

FreeMCHosting – Basic free plan gives 10 slots. Lacks features of paid tiers but solid.

The benefit of these services is that they handle hosting and DevOps for you. But there are often limits on resources or uptime. Still great for testing or temporary servers!

For more robust solutions, explore paid Minecraft server hosting from providers like BisectHosting, Shockbyte, and ScalaCube. Prices start around $5/month.

ProviderFree SlotsUptimeModsFeatures
Aternos10Idle TimeoutsSupportedEasy setup
Minehut10Always OnSupportedPlugins, backups
FreeMCHosting10Always OnVanillaBasic only

No matter how you host, the Minecraft server community provides free services and resources. Be sure to repay the kindness!

Start Crafting Your Server Adventure

And there you have it – all the steps and knowledge needed to start your own free Minecraft server! The key takeaways:

  • Choose Java vs Bedrock based on needs and hardware.

  • Download server software and accept the EULA.

  • Port forward your router for external connections.

  • Customize settings and add mods/plugins as desired.

  • Manage users, perform backups, and optimize for best performance.

  • Troubleshoot issues as they arise or use a free hosting provider.

While hosting your own server takes effort, the payoff of playing exactly the Minecraft experiences you want with friends is huge.

So don‘t wait around – go grab the server software from and start crafting your perfect community today! I‘m excited to see what you build.

Good luck and happy Minecrafting! Let me know if you have any other questions.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.