Have you ever wanted to play Minecraft with friends without relying on public servers or paying for an online server? Creating your own free Minecraft server is easier than you think!
In this beginner-friendly guide, I‘ll walk you step-by-step through setting up a private Minecraft server on your home computer using the free Java server software from Mojang.
- What exactly is a Minecraft server and how does it work?
- Required hardware and network requirements
- Downloading the server JAR file
- Configuring gameplay options
- Port forwarding for external connections
- Starting your server for the first time
- Connecting with friends and troubleshooting issues
- Optimizing performance, backing up, securing your server
- Limitations and alternatives to free servers
Let‘s get started!
What Exactly is a Minecraft Server?
A Minecraft server lets you run a persistent world that players can access 24/7 online, even when you are offline.
Unlike singleplayer Minecraft on your PC, a server hosted online means your friends can explore the same world at the same time as you. You can build together, fight together, and play mini-games together on a server.
The major benefit is that you control the gameplay environment – you can choose game modes, install mods, enable PvP, and set specific rules that suit your group.
Public servers can be chaotic with random players joining. Running your own server creates a private space just for you and friends!
According to MinecraftServerList.org, over 65,000 Minecraft servers are active worldwide with over 1 million daily players. The community continues growing since the game‘s release in 2009.
Hardware and Network Requirements
Before creating your free Minecraft server, make sure your computer and home internet connection meet the minimum system requirements:
Minecraft: Java Edition – The original Java desktop version works for servers. Windows 10/11, Mac, Linux.
Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent with at least 2 cores. More players need more CPU power.
RAM: I recommend at least 4GB RAM allocated to the server. 8GB is ideal for 10+ players.
Storage: 50MB or more for server software, plugins, worlds. SSD storage recommended.
Internet: Broadband connection (25Mbps down/5Mbps up) with unlimited usage.
Port forwarding: Required to open your network for external connections.
You‘ll also need basic computer skills like editing config files, starting programs, FTP file transfers etc.
Don‘t meet the requirements? Consider asking a friend to host or use a paid server host – I cover the pros and cons later in this guide.
Step 1: Install Latest Version of Java
Java is required to run the Minecraft server.
Head over to java.com and download the latest Java JRE installer.
Run through the installer prompt accepting license terms. This will set up Java on your computer.
Tip: Always keep Java updated to fix bugs and improve performance.
Step 2: Download the Minecraft Server JAR File
Now we need the actual Minecraft server software from Mojang.
Go to the Minecraft website and look for the Minecraft Server section.
Scroll down and download the JAR file for the latest Minecraft version. At time of writing, this is
Save the JAR file into a new folder somewhere like your Desktop or Documents. This will be your server folder.
Later we can add other server files like mods, plugins and world data here.
Step 3: Allocate More RAM to the Server
The standard Java process doesn‘t allocate enough RAM for a good Minecraft server experience.
Let‘s increase the memory when launching the JAR file:
Windows: Right click the JAR file and select
Open With > Java(TM) Platform SE Binary.
Mac: Double click to launch the JAR.
Linux: Launch using
java -jar command.
Now add the following before the
This assigns 4GB of RAM to the Java process running the server. You can set this higher or lower as needed.
The final launch command looks like:
java -Xmx4G -jar minecraft_server.1.19.2.jar
More RAM improves performance and allows more players. I suggest at least 4GB.
Step 4: Configure Server Properties
The first time you start the JAR, it will generate a
server.properties file with defaults.
Open this file in any text editor like Notepad or TextEdit to customize your server:
server-port=25565 view-distance=10 level-name=world gamemode=survival difficulty=easy max-players=20
Some key settings:
server-port: TCP port for clients to connect (default 25565)
view-distance: Number of chunks sent to players (5-10 ideal)
level-name: Name of the main world
gamemode: Default mode for new players joining (survival, creative, adventure)
difficulty: Peaceful, easy, normal, hard.
max-players: Maximum players online at once.
Set these to match your preferred gameplay style. You can tweak these later as needed.
Tip: Generate new worlds by changing level-name and restarting the server.
Step 5: Port Forwarding for External Connections
So far your server only runs locally. We need to open it up to the internet for external connections.
This is done by port forwarding on your home router:
Login to your router admin page (see router manual for details)
Find port forwarding or virtual server settings
Add a new rule forwarding port 25565 (or your configured port) to your computer‘s local IP address
Save changes and reboot router if needed
Make sure you forward the same port set in the
server-port property earlier.
With port forwarding setup, your home network is now open for connections to your server!
Tip: Use a tool like canyouseeme.org to test if your port is open from outside your network.
Step 6: Launch Your Minecraft Server for the First Time
You‘re ready to start your server for the first time.
Navigate to the server folder and double click the JAR file. This will launch the server process which runs continuously.
Keep the window open – do not close it! The console prints logs and shows the server status:
[Server thread/INFO]: Done (35.961s)! For help, type "help" [Server thread/INFO]: Timings Reset
Initially world generation may take several minutes depending on server power. Let it run.
The server creates files for banned players, ops, whitelist etc. and a
world folder for your…world data!
Congrats, your Minecraft server is running! Now time to connect…
Step 7: Connect to Your Minecraft Server
Launch Minecraft Java on your computer or any friends‘ computers who want to join.
From the main menu, select Multiplayer, then Add Server.
Enter your server‘s public IP address and configured port:
Server Address: your.ip.address
With that set up, join your server and you‘ll connect right away since it‘s hosted locally.
For remote players, make sure you enabled port forwarding so they can connect over the internet to your public IP.
The max players depends on your server performance. As the owner, you have full operator powers on the server.
Invite friends and build together!
Tips for Managing Your Server Long-Term
Running a successful free Minecraft server does require some sysadmin skills for management. Here are some tips:
1. Make regular backups of the entire server folder to preserve world data and settings in case files get corrupted.
2. Install plugins like Essentials, PermissionsEx and WorldEdit to add extra functionality like warps, claims, and more. Download .JAR plugin files and place in the
/plugins folder then restart the server.
3. Add mods by installing the Forge server instead of vanilla Minecraft. Then add mods by placing .JAR files in
/mods. This expands possibilities greatly.
4. Monitor server resource usage like CPU, RAM, disk space. Upgrade hardware if needed or reduce view-distance and entity spawn rates.
5. Use whitelisting to only allow approved players. Set
server.properties and manage with commands like
/whitelist add playername.
6. Make offsite backups regularly in case of internet or hardware issues. Your server will go offline if your PC crashes or loses connection for an extended period.
Running a server does take commitment and technical skills. For less experienced users, a paid host may be easier but lacks customization.
I‘ll cover the tradeoffs next.
Limitations of Free Minecraft Servers
While free servers give you more control, there are some downsides to self-hosting:
Your computer must be on 24/7 – Server goes offline if your PC shuts down.
No protection against attacks – A free server is vulnerable to DDoS attacks and hacking.
Performance limitations based on your hardware and internet speeds.
No management panel – Need advanced technical knowledge.
No modpack installers – Must manually install Forge, mods, plugins.
For a more hands-off approach, consider paying for a managed Minecraft server hosting plan which starts around $5 per month for up to 10 players.
Paid Minecraft Server Hosting vs Free Servers
Here‘s an overview comparing paid Minecraft server hosts versus free self-hosted servers:
|Self-Hosted Free Server||Paid Server Host|
|Monthly Cost||$0||$5 – $15|
|Uptime||When your PC is on||99.9% guaranteed|
|Performance||Varies, often slower||Fast|
|Player Slots||< 10||10 – 200|
|Ease of Use||Technical expertise needed||Very easy|
For most players, a paid host like MinecraftServer.org, Shockbyte or BisectHosting is best for performance, security and ease of management.
But if you enjoy technical challenges, don‘t mind maintaining your own server, and want 100% free control, then a DIY free server is rewarding.
I‘ll cover other options next.
Alternatives to Free Minecraft Servers
Besides paid hosting, here are a few other options to consider for playing multiplayer Minecraft with friends:
Realms – Mojang‘s official monthly subscription for private servers up to 11 players. Super easy to use and manage.
Free hosting services – Some free limited time server trials. Not ideal for long term.
Rent a VPS server – Get a virtual private server from AWS, Google Cloud, etc for full flexibility and control. Expert skills needed.
Play on public servers – Join massive servers like Hypixel for minigames, SkyBlock, and activities. No setup needed.
Local server with friends – If friends are nearby, open your singleplayer world to LAN for simple multiplayer.
For most players new to Minecraft servers, I suggest starting with a paid host which removes the complexity of managing your own free server. But advanced users will love the customization of a self-hosted free server.
Optimizing Performance on Your Free Minecraft Server
Once up and running, there are many tweaks you can make to improve server performance and handle more players:
Reduce view-distance in
server.propertiesto decrease CPU usage. 5-7 is ideal for survival servers.
Lower entity spawn rates with a plugin like SimpleChunksPregenerator to reduce mob lag.
Disable animated textures in the server‘s
Add more RAM for larger worlds, mods and player counts. At least 4GB is recommended.
Switch to SSD storage for faster world loading times if on a HDD currently.
Restart regularly – Aim for at least once per day to clear memory leaks over time.
Analyze lag with tools like Spark or Tab to identify the source – entities, chunks, etc.
Pre-generate world chunks to reduce lag when exploring unloaded terrain.
Disable unwanted dimensions like the Nether or End to reduce resource usage.
With the right optimizations for your player size, mods, and world, even a free Minecraft server can deliver excellent performance.
Troubleshooting Connection Issues to Your Free Minecraft Server
Here are some common connection issues and how to troubleshoot them:
Verify IP address and port – Double check these match your
server.propertiesfile in server JAR.
Check port forwarding setup – Use a tool like canyouseeme.org to validate the port is open from outside your network.
Confirm server is running – If offline, restart server and check console for errors.
Disable VPN connections – VPN usage can sometimes interfere with server connections.
Try rebooting router – Fixes port forwarding problems temporarily.
Check firewall and antivirus settings – Whitelist Java and the server JAR file if needed.
Verify Java installed – Server requires latest 64-bit Java to run.
If you still can‘t resolve connection problems, search online for your specific error. The Minecraft community and modding sites like MinecraftForum are great resources for troubleshooting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much RAM do I need to allocate to my Minecraft server?
A: At minimum 2-4GB for a few players. For 10+ players, I suggest 8GB+ RAM for smooth performance.
Q: What‘s the best Java version to use for my Minecraft server?
A: Always install the latest 64-bit Java from java.com. Keep it updated for best compatibility.
Q: Can I make my private free server public for anyone to join?
A: Yes, just whitelist all players by setting
server.properties. But beware random players can grief or hack your server.
Q: Do I need to keep the server console window open at all times when running my server?
A: Correct, closing the server console window shuts down your Minecraft server entirely. Leave it running 24/7.
Q: Is it possible to add mods and plugins to my free Minecraft server?
A: Absolutely! Install Forge, drop in mods in the
mods folder, and place plugins in the
plugins folder. Just be careful about compatibility.
And that covers everything you need to create your own free Minecraft server using Mojang‘s server JAR file and Java!
While running your own open server takes effort compared to Realms or paid hosts, you gain complete control to configure, mod, and customize your server for your needs.
The ability to play Minecraft with friends privately without relying on an external company is rewarding. I hope this beginner‘s guide provided a friendly introduction to the steps for creating your own server.
Let me know if you have any other questions – I‘m happy to help out new Minecraft server admins!