Have you ever dreamed of having your very own Minecraft server to play on with friends? Maybe you want to try out cool mods and plugins, or make awesome builds without being disrupted. Hosting a Minecraft Java server on your own PC is a great way to make this dream a reality, and you can do it all completely free!
In this beginner-friendly guide, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to host your own Minecraft server on Windows or Mac. You‘ll learn:
- How to get a free server up and running
- Step-by-step instructions for setup and configuration
- Tips to optimize performance for smooth gameplay
- How to invite friends and manage your community
- Recommendations for free hosting options
- The basics of installing mods, plugins, and custom content
- And more!
So let‘s get started – by the end of this guide, you‘ll have your own personal Minecraft playground running for you and your friends to enjoy for free!
An Introduction to Minecraft Servers
Before we get our hands dirty, let‘s quickly go over what a Minecraft server actually is and does.
A Minecraft server is software that runs a persistent instance of a Minecraft world. When you connect to a server, it generates terrain using the server‘s seed and allows multiple players to inhabit and interact within the same world.
Servers allow for multiplayer gameplay – you can team up with friends to build, fight monsters, explore, mine, face off in PvP battles, play minigames, and more!
Public servers can have hundreds of players online at once. But by hosting your own, you control who plays on your server and can customize every aspect of gameplay to your liking.
Now let‘s look at how to get your own free server up and running!
Hardware Requirements: What You‘ll Need to Run a Server
In order to host a smooth Minecraft multiplayer server, your computer will need sufficient processing power, RAM, and good network bandwidth. The exact requirements depend on how many players you‘re expecting and whether you‘ll be running any mods.
Here are Mojang‘s official recommendations for Minecraft server hardware:
|1-5||Quad-core||2-4 GB||50 GB||100 mbps|
|5-10||Quad-core||4-8 GB||50 GB||100 mbps|
|10-15||Quad-core||8-12 GB||50 GB||100 mbps|
|15-20||6-core||12-16 GB||100 GB||1 gbps|
Tip: Check your task manager while playing singleplayer to estimate the server resources you‘ll need.
For storage, allocate at least 50GB to give your world room to grow. Having fast storage like an SSD helps with read/write speeds as well.
Many people repurpose an old PC or buy a refurbished Dell Optiplex on eBay for a few hundred dollars to run their server on. This saves money compared to buying new server-grade hardware.
Step-by-Step Guide to Downloading and Setting Up Your Server
Let‘s go through the steps to actually get your Minecraft server software installed and launched:
Install or Update Java
Minecraft servers require at least Java version 8. So make sure you have the latest JRE downloaded on your system:
Create a Dedicated Server Folder
Make a new folder on your PC that will store all the server files. For example,
C:\mcserver. Keeping it organized in its own spot makes management easier down the road.
Download the Minecraft Server JAR File
Head to Minecraft‘s official website and grab the server JAR file:
Save it into your server folder you just created.
Launch the Server for the First Time
Navigate to your server folder in Command Prompt/Terminal. Then run this command to launch the server for the first time:
java -Xms2048M -Xmx4096M -jar server.jar nogui
-Xmxset the min and max RAM the server can use.
noguiprevents the graphical interface from opening.
You‘ll see a bunch of text stream by as the base server files are initialized. Then the server will stop after a few seconds.
Accept the EULA
eula.txt file in your server folder and change
eula=true to agree to Mojang‘s End User License Agreement.
Start the Server Again
From your server folder, launch the server .jar again:
java -Xms2048M -Xmx4096M -jar server.jar nogui
This time, the server will fully start up! You‘ll see logs streaming by.
Join Your Server in Minecraft!
Open up Minecraft Java Edition, and click "Multiplayer" then "Add Server". Enter your computer‘s local IP and click connect to join your server!
If you‘re on the same network, other players can simply enter your local IP to join.
And that covers the basic server installation! Now let‘s look at…
Configuring Your Minecraft Server for Remote Access
By default, your Minecraft server will only be accessible on your local network. But you likely want to invite friends to connect remotely too, right?
To allow external connections, you‘ll need to configure:
Port Forwarding: Forwards requests from your public IP to your server computer‘s private IP on port 25565.
Firewall Rules: Permits incoming connections on port 25565.
Here are some guides to help with port forwarding your router and configuring Windows firewall rules:
Once configured, you can use a site like WhatsMyIP to find your external public IP, and give that to your friends along with the standard Minecraft port 25565.
Now that your server is accessible remotely, let‘s optimize it for smoother gameplay.
Optimizing Server Performance: Getting the Most Out of Your Hardware
A laggy server is no fun – here are some tips for optimizing your Minecraft server‘s performance:
Allocate sufficient RAM – As a baseline, aim for 1GB per player or 2GB per player for modded. Monitor usage, and increase RAM allotment if you have lag.
Reduce view distance – Lower server view distance to 4-6 chunks. This reduces the server‘s render load.
Lower simulation distance – Similarly, reduce simulation distance to 4-6 chunks.
Avoid resource intensive mods – Limit performance heavy mods like complex furniture, tech mods, and dimension mods.
Use performance enhancing plugins – Try optimization plugins like PaperMC or Lithium/Phosphor mods.
Upgrade hardware – If still laggy, consider upgrading to stronger server-grade hardware. This will improve performance more than any software optimizations.
Start by tweaking software settings, then monitor CPU and RAM usage closely. If you‘re maxing out hardware resources, an upgrade is likely needed for a smooth server.
Administering Your Minecraft Server
Managing your server will involve doing regular server maintenance:
Create automated backups using incremental backup software to reduce disk space usage. Back up the
Have a moderation system with chat filters, appointing moderators, banning, and whitelisting players. Set clear rules.
Monitor server performance using tools like Spark or McMyAdmin to watch TPS, RAM usage, ping, and other metrics.
Update plugins/mods regularly – Keep them updated for best performance and latest features, but read changelogs to avoid breaking changes.
Restart periodically – Use cron jobs or scheduling tools to automatically restart your server daily or weekly to clear memory.
Taking the time to properly administer your server will keep it running smoothly month after month.
Finding a Free or Low-Cost Minecraft Server Host
If you don‘t want to host the server on your home computer, there are some free and cheap Minecraft hosting options to consider as well:
Local server rental – Low powered servers for $5-10/month from services like ServerMiner.
Free hosting services – Aternos and Minehut offer free servers with limited resources and uptime.
Cloud hosting free trials – Create AWS, Azure, GCP accounts to use free credits for temporary servers.
Used hardware – Buy used/refurbished PCs on eBay or Craigslist for cheap DIY servers.
While less customizable, third-party hosting can save you headaches of managing your own server hardware and network.
The Many Types of Minecraft Server Gameplay
One beauty of Minecraft is you can fully customize your server‘s gameplay with different modes, mods, and plugins. Some popular types of servers include:
Survival – The classic survival mode with health, hunger, crafting, monsters, and PvP.
Creative – Players have unlimited resources and can build anything imaginable in creative mode.
Factions – Join or create factions, claim land, and battle rival factions.
Prison – Rank up through different tiers and prisons by mining and earning money.
Skyblock – Survive on a floating island and slowly expand into a full world.
Minigames – Servers focused on competitive minigames like Spleef, Parkour, Hide and Seek, Hunger Games, and more.
Roleplay (RP) – Roleplay and make up stories as your in-game character on an RPG server.
Don‘t be afraid to experiment with different server types to find one that resonates with your community. Many servers even combine multiple modes into one for added variety.
Inviting Friends to Join Your Minecraft Server
Once your server is up and running, it‘s time to invite your friends to join in the fun!
First, make sure they have Java Edition Minecraft installed on their PC. This is required to connect to Java servers.
Next, give them your server‘s public IP address and port 25565, which they can enter in the Multiplayer menu by clicking "Add Server":
Tip: Have them test connecting while on the same local network first to troubleshoot any issues before inviting remote players.
If your server has whitelisted players, make sure to add your friends‘ Minecraft usernames to the
whitelist.json file in your server folder so they can connect.
Once connected, they should see your world spawn just like in singleplayer! Now get to playing, and the multiplayer fun will begin.
Installing Plugins, Mods, and Custom Content
One of the best parts of running your own Minecraft server is being able to install plugins, mods, and custom content. Here are some popular options to enhance gameplay:
Spigot – Optimization plugins plus additional features like permissions and minigames.
GriefPrevention – Allow players to claim land and prevent griefing.
Pixelmon – Popular Pokemon-inspired gameplay on your server. Train and battle!
Lucky Blocks – Adds unpredictable lucky blocks with random outcomes.
Tekkit – Collection of technology focused mods like Industrial Craft.
Feed the Beast – One of the largest curated modpack collections.
Follow individual installation guides carefully, and be sure to backup your world before installing major mods, as they can break saves.
Legal Considerations for Public Servers
If you will be running a public Minecraft server, be sure to follow Mojang‘s Commercial Guidelines. Here are some key points:
You cannot make money directly from Minecraft gameplay. Server donations must unlock cosmetic perks instead of game advantages.
Do not sell mods and respect content creator licenses.
Don‘t use Minecraft logos and branding without permission.
The full guidelines go into more detail on what is allowed commercially – give them a read before monetizing your public server.
And that covers everything you need to know to host your own Minecraft Java server!
We went over:
Server hardware requirements and setup steps
Configuring remote access and optimization
Server management and free hosting options
Customizing gameplay with mods and plugins
Inviting friends and growing your community
Now you have all the knowledge needed to start your Minecraft journey. Have fun out there, and happy building!