Want to enjoy Minecraft with friends but don‘t want to pay for a Realm or server? I‘ve got you covered! In this detailed guide, I‘ll walk you through all the ways to play Minecraft multiplayer online completely for free.
An Overview of Your Free Minecraft Multiplayer Options
Here are the main free routes to playing Minecraft together that I‘ll cover:
- Joining one of thousands of awesome public Minecraft servers run by the community
- Hosting your own server on your home network for you and friends
- Using a free limited server hosting service to maintain a small private server
- Setting up LAN multiplayer for playing locally with friends on the same network
I‘ll provide simple step-by-step instructions for each method so you can get gaming together quickly. Public servers give instant access to multiplayer fun while hosting your own or using free hosting provides control over who can join.
Step 1: Find and Join Free Public Minecraft Servers
Your easiest path to free Minecraft multiplayer is taking advantage of one of the many public servers available. Here‘s how to connect:
Joining Public Servers on Minecraft Java Edition
Launch the Minecraft launcher and click Multiplayer at the top
Click the Add Server button
For the server name, enter anything you want to identify that server on your list
In the server address field, enter the IP address of the public server
Click Done to save this server to your list
Select the server you added and click the Join Server button to connect
That‘s all it takes to access servers hosted by the amazing Minecraft community worldwide. Now let‘s find some great servers to join!
Discovering Great Public Servers to Explore
With over 10 years of Minecraft multiplayer history, there are countless public servers out there. Here are some top sites to discover servers:
- Minecraft Server List – One of the most popular server lists, with over 1000 active servers and ratings
- Minecraft MP – Well-organized directory of servers searchable by multiple categories
- MCSL – Lists popular servers and reviews their uptime and lag scores
- Top Minecraft Servers – Ranks servers based on user votes and popularity
The variety of gameplay on public servers is amazing. You can find servers focused on:
- Survival – PvE worlds focused on exploring, building, and progressing
- Creative – Unleash your wildest build ideas with unlimited resources
- Skyblock – See what you can build starting on a tiny island in the sky
- Factions – Join or create a faction vying for dominance on an open PvP world
- Minigames – Arcade-style servers with short competitive games and activities
- Prison – Progress through different cell blocks by mining and selling virtual items
- Modpacks/Pixelmon – Augmented Minecraft with gameplay mods like Pokemon
With so many options, it can help to browse top server lists and search for keywords matching your interests. Avoid shady sites and make sure to carefully check the server rules before connecting.
Joining Servers on Minecraft Bedrock Edition
The process for accessing servers on the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft on consoles and mobile is very similar:
Open up Minecraft and select Play from the main menu
Choose Servers and click the Add Server button
Enter a descriptive name for the server and the IP address
Click Add Server to save it to your list
Select the server and click the Join button to connect
Bedrock players can access all the same public servers by inputting the server IP address. Now with cross-play enabled, you can even play with friends on PC.
What To Expect on Your First Public Server
Joining a server for the first time can be confusing, but veteran players are usually willing to help explain things! Here are some tips:
- Read the server rules carefully so you know what is allowed
- Use the /help command for explanations on gameplay and commands
- Chat and ask questions – joining a new community takes time
- Don‘t worry about dying at first as you learn! It‘s part of the process.
- Explore and try different servers until you find communities you like
- Mark nice players as friends that you meet to team up later
The freedom of public servers lets you find a gameplay style and community that fits you. Now let‘s move on to hosting your own private server so you can play with just friends.
Step 2: Host Your Own Free Private Minecraft Server
While public servers provide tons of gameplay variety, they don‘t offer much control over who you play with. Running your own Minecraft server lets you create a private environment just for you and friends.
Server Hosting Requirements
Hosting your own server at home does take a bit more effort but it‘s a great free option. Here‘s what you need:
- Minecraft Java Edition – Only the original Java PC version can host servers, not Bedrock.
- Decent internet speeds – Faster upload speeds allow more players. 5 Mbps up is recommended for 4+ players.
- Good PC specs – The more CPU cores and RAM available, the better the performance for multiple connections. I‘d recommend at least 8GB RAM.
- Port forwarding – This opens your home network and routes traffic to your server PC.
- A bit of technical aptitude – You‘ll need to be able to configure your router and follow hosting guides. If you can build a redstone computer in Minecraft you can handle this!
As long as you have the above, you can absolutely host your own server. Let‘s break down the setup step-by-step:
Setting Up Your Own Minecraft Server Walkthrough
Download the server JAR file – This small file contains everything needed to run a server. Grab it from the official Minecraft site.
Create a folder – Make a new folder somewhere easy to access like your desktop. This will be your server folder.
Move the JAR into the folder – Take the server JAR file you downloaded and move it into your new server folder.
Run the JAR – Double click the server JAR to launch it. This will generate necessary config files.
Adjust server properties – Open the new server.properties file and edit settings like game mode, difficulty, etc.
Port forward your router – You‘ll need to forward port 25565 to the local IP address of your server PC. This Port Forward guide can help walk you through it.
Give friends your new IP – WhatIsMyIP.com will show your public IP others need to connect.
Whitelist friends – In server.properties, add a whitelist=true and the usernames of friends. This stops randoms from joining.
Start your server and play! – Double click the server JAR again whenever you want to host multiplayer.
It takes a bit more effort than joining an existing public server, but the control of hosting your own server is awesome. You can restrict access, choose game modes, install mods, and really customize the experience.
Let‘s move on to another easy free option – taking advantage of limited free server hosting plans.
Step 3: Use Free Limited Minecraft Server Hosting
If port forwarding and maintaining your own server sounds too complex, some hosting providers offer free plans for small servers. The limitations are worth it for the easier and more reliable hosting.
Pros of Free Server Hosting Over Self-Hosting
Free server hosting services take care of managing the servers for you, making them attractive alternatives to self-hosting. Advantages include:
- No port forwarding required – Services host the server online so friends can easily connect.
- Limited player slots – Typically 5-10 free slots depending on the provider.
- Server reliability – Your server will almost always be online versus self-hosting.
- Quick setup – Just create an account and setup is done for you.
- Easy maintenance – The host handles server updates, mods, backups, etc.
The main catch is limited uptime per day/month due to resource constraints. But for playing with a few friends regularly, free hosting can be a solid option.
Popular Free Minecraft Server Hosts
Here are some of the most popular free limited server hosting providers and what they offer:
|Free Plan Highlights
|5 slots, 2GB RAM, no ads
|10 slots, 3GB RAM
|5 slots, 1GB RAM
|6 slots, 1GB RAM
I‘d recommend Aternos or Minehut. Just create an account, provide a server name, then send the address to friends. The host handles the rest!
Now let‘s go over a final great option for small group play – LAN multiplayer gaming with nearby friends.
Step 4: Set Up LAN Multiplayer for Local Friends
If your friends will be gaming on devices connected to the same local network, setting up a LAN multiplayer world is incredibly easy and doesn‘t require an online connection at all. All you need is a local Wi-Fi network.
Enabling LAN Multiplayer in Minecraft
Here is the quick process to open a world up to LAN connections:
On Minecraft Java Edition:
Launch Minecraft, choose Multiplayer, and click Add Server
Enter a server name like "My LAN World" and leave address blank
Select it and click Join Server to load into a singleplayer world
Friends on your network can now join through their Multiplayer menu
On Minecraft Bedrock Edition:
From the main menu select Play and create/load a singleplayer world
Open the pause menu in-game and click Settings
Select Multiplayer and toggle on the Visible to LAN Players option
Nearby friends on the same network can now join from their Friends tab
And that‘s all it takes to enable simple LAN multiplayer! Everyone connects through the same shared local network. Great for gaming with family or dorm friends.
Troubleshooting Common Minecraft Multiplayer Issues
Unfortunately, connections issues can sometimes get in the way of playing together online. Based on my experience gaming and helping other players, here are some of the most common multiplayer problems and suggested fixes:
Can‘t connect to a world
- Double check that the server is currently online before trying to join
- Verify that the IP address/URL entered is exactly correct
- Try closing and reopening the game to refresh the server list
Error that the server is on an old version
- All players need to be on the identical Minecraft version to connect
- Have everyone fully update and restart to the latest version
Player not found on the server
- Make sure the case and spelling of the username entered matches exactly
- They may need to fully log out and reconnect to refresh their profile
Connection timed out
- This usually indicates a network issue blocking access
- Verify firewalls/security software aren‘t blocking the server
- Try turning off VPNs and connecting directly if possible
Being blocked by a whitelist
- Server owners need to add you to the whitelist in server settings
- Double check the spelling of your username and have them re-add
Other router/ISP issues
- Rebooting routers often helps connectivity
- Double check port forwarding was set up correctly if hosting yourself
- Switch between wired and wireless connections to see if that‘s the problem
I know from experience how frustrating connection problems can be. But with some patience and trial and error applying the right fixes, you‘ll be playing together in no time.
Finding Friends Online to Play Minecraft With
One of the best parts of Minecraft is gaming with good friends. But what if none of your real-life friends play? There are great ways to meet fellow Minecraft fans online:
Multiplayer forums – Introduce yourself and find teammates on forums like MinecraftForums
Public servers – Get to know players on public servers and add as online friends
Discord – Servers like Minecraft Central have huge communities and looking-to-play channels
Subreddits – r/MinecraftBuddies and r/MinecraftMultiplayer exist just for this purpose
Minecraft multiplayer sites – Join a site profile like MinecraftGates to match with players
By putting yourself out there online, you can absolutely meet new potential friends that share your gaming passions. Just remember to keep safety in mind when connecting with strangers online.
Keeping Kids Safe Playing Multiplayer Minecraft
For parents, it‘s understandable to have concerns about letting kids play multiplayer Minecraft with random people. Here are great ways to allow social gaming while limiting risks:
- Set up a private server just for IRL friends and family
- Take advantage of server whitelisting to restrict access
- Install child safety mods like ChildProtect to filter chat
- Have them use offline mode to avoid seeing chat from strangers
- Play together in the same room to directly monitor interactions
- Frequently discuss online safety and set ground rules
With reasonable precautions, Minecraft can still be an enriching social experience for kids. Limit interactions to people you trust as much as possible. The private server options I covered make that achievable at no cost.
Upgrading to Paid Minecraft Multiplayer Options
While entirely free server options provide tons of gameplay, there are limitations to be aware of. Paid solutions offer enhanced performance and less restrictions.
Realms – Easy Private Servers
Realms from Mojang offer the simplest way to maintain a private server accessible to only people you invite. For a subscription fee starting at $7.99 per month, you get:
- Your own permanent Realms server online 24/7
- Easy inviting system and UI for managing players
- High-performance servers monitored by Mojang
- Support for up to 10 players
- Automatic server updates and backups
For a seamless, reliable experience playing privately with friends, Realms are worth the monthly fee.
Managed Server Hosting
Paid Minecraft server hosting companies maintain high-performance servers for you that are online 24/7 with powerful resources. Prices start around $10/month. Benefits include:
- No need to port forward or keep your own server open
- Powerful specs with high player counts supported
- Automatic daily backups of your worlds
- Server maintenance, updates, and mod/plugin installs
- Round-the-clock monitoring and DDoS protection
For public or private servers with lag-free performance, paid server hosting is the way to go.
Let‘s Play! How to Have Epic Free Minecraft Multiplayer Adventures
I hope after reading this guide you feel empowered with several great options for playing Minecraft with friends online completely for free. Here‘s a quick recap of your choices:
Join free public Minecraft servers – Instantly play with thousands of players globally by joining massive open servers. Find communities you vibe with.
Host your own server – For private friend fun, host a server on your home network. Port forward for access outside your LAN.
Use free limited hosting plans – Services like Aternos and Minehut make launching a server for you and friends easy.
Enable LAN worlds – For local network friends, open up singleplayer to allow connections from nearby.
Upgrade to Realms or managed hosting – For private servers with no restrictions or headaches, paid options excel.
Stop wondering how to play multiplayer Minecraft for free and jump in! Public communities eagerly welcome new players. Have an epic gaming session laughing with real-life friends on your private server. Meet fellow fans online in multiplayer.
Minecraft together with others is gaming at its best. I hope you‘re now equipped to access this world of fun with friends at no cost. Let me know if you have any other questions!