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Is a Private Minecraft Server Free? Everything You Need to Know

If you‘re an avid Minecraft player looking to set up a private server to play with friends, you may be wondering: is a private Minecraft server free?

The short answer is yes—you can host a basic private Java server for free. However, there are some limitations, and running a larger or more advanced server typically requires a paid hosting plan.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about free and paid private Minecraft servers so you can make the best decision for your needs. As a fellow Minecraft enthusiast who has run both free and paid servers, I‘m happy to share my insights with you!

Can I Host a Free Private Java Server?

The vanilla Minecraft server software itself is 100% free to download and use for private servers. This Java server software allows you to transform your computer into a Minecraft multiplayer server accessible by your friends.

To set up a free private server, all you need is:

  • A computer capable of running the Minecraft server software continuously
  • A strong broadband internet connection
  • Basic technical knowledge for setup and port forwarding

This free option is great for small groups of friends—say 10 or fewer players on at once. You can easily run a free server for that many players off of a standard consumer PC.

However, there are some significant limitations to free private servers:

  • Limited connectivity – Only people on your local network can join unless you port forward. This makes it hard for friends outside your home to play.

  • Performance constraints – Your home internet speed and computer specs limit how well the server can handle multiple players. Lag can be an issue.

  • Always-on requirement – The server only runs when your computer is on and the software is active. You can‘t play when your PC is powered down.

  • No mods or plugins – Free servers don‘t support installing server mods, plugins, or custom JARs.

So in summary—yes, free private Minecraft servers are possible, but work best for small groups on a local network. If you want to open your server up to more friends online, a paid hosting plan is recommended.

What Are the Costs for Paid Private Servers?

Paid Minecraft server hosting enables you to have a powerful, highly available server open to all your friends worldwide. But what exactly are the costs involved?

Here are the standard expenses for paid private Minecraft server hosting:

  • Monthly hosting fees – The base cost is for use of the server hardware and internet connection. Prices range from around $5 per month for 10 slots to $50+ monthly for servers with 100+ slots.

  • Memory upgrades – More RAM improves performance and allows more players. Upgrades usually start around $5 per GB.

  • Domain name – Most hosts provide one free domain, but any additional custom domains usually cost $1-$5 monthly.

  • Storage space – Hosts include some base storage, but more space for maps and backups costs extra.

  • DDOS protection – Optional "anti-DDOS" services help mitigate denial of service attacks by malicious players.

  • Modpacks and plugins – Access to modpacks, plugins, and custom JAR file installation varies per host. May incur extra fees.

So in total, expect to spend around $10-$30 per month for a fully-featured private Minecraft server capable of handling 20+ simultaneous players with mods, plugins, and automated backups.

Top Free Minecraft Server Hosting Providers

If you‘re looking to avoid hosting costs but still want more than a basic free local server, there are some great free Minecraft server hosting providers to consider:


Aternos offers completely free Minecraft bedrock and Java server hosting with no obligations or catches. You can host a server for up to 20 players with access to plugins and modpacks. The main downsides are limited RAM resources and frequent server restarts. But for a 100% free service, Aternos is an excellent option.


Minehut has a generous free server tier supporting 10 player slots and unlimited server restarts. You can access popular plugins and maps for free. Priority access and more resources require a paid subscription starting at $3 per month. But for most small servers, the free plan is sufficient.


As the name implies, FreeMCHosting offers free Minecraft server hosting for both Java and bedrock editions. The free tier includes server hosting for up to 10 players with 512 MB of RAM. A $5 per month premium plan unlocks more features and resources.


ScalaCube offers new users a free 14-day Minecraft server trial with up to 12 player slots, access to plugins, and 1 GB of RAM. After the trial, paid plans start at €2.49 a month. This free trial period is nice for testing out their service.

So in summary, while limited in resources, these free hosts allow you to create private servers accessible online for 10 or more players—no paid hosting required.

How Do I Set Up My Own Free Private Server?

If you want to host your own free Minecraft server on your home computer, follow these steps:

Step 1: Download the Minecraft Server Software

First, download the official Minecraft server .JAR file from Mojang‘s website. This contains all the server software to run a Java multiplayer server on your machine.

Step 2: Accept the EULA

Minecraft‘s End User License Agreement (EULA) prohibits commercial use of Minecraft servers. Open the eula.txt file in your server directory and change "eula=false" to "eula=true" to comply with this agreement.

Step 3: Port Forward Your Router

You‘ll need to port forward your router so external players can access your server over the internet. Forward port 25565 to your computer‘s local network IP address.

Step 4: Launch the Server

Double-click the server .JAR file to generate all the server config files. Then reopen the file to officially launch the server.

Step 5: Customize Your Server Settings

Edit the file to give your server a name, set gamemode, whitelist players, and customize other options for your private server.

Step 6: Invite Your Friends

Have your friends connect using your external IP address and port 25565. Now you can enjoy your very own free private Minecraft server!

Expert Tips for the Best Free Server Experience

Follow these tips from me and other expert Minecraft server admins to maximize performance and enjoyment on your free private server:

  • Limit your server to 5-10 concurrent players to keep lag and hardware demands low on your home machine.

  • Set up scheduled restarts using a hosting control panel or Windows Task Scheduler to periodically refresh the server software.

  • Pre-generate your world using a tool like Chunky to improve terrain generation speeds.

  • Install performance optimization mods like Spark and Lithium to reduce lag, tick times, and memory usage.

  • Create a whitelist and only share your server IP with close, trusted friends. This prevents griefing and abuse.

  • Make regular backups to avoid losing your world and progress if problems arise.

Following this expert guidance will help you achieve the best experience running your own free private Minecraft server. Have fun playing with friends!

Frequently Asked Questions About Private Servers

Here are answers to some common questions about setting up and running private Minecraft servers:

Are mods allowed on private servers?

Yes, most private server hosts allow you to install mods, modpacks, and plugins. This allows you to customize your gameplay experience far beyond vanilla Minecraft.

Can I make my server public?

Absolutely! While intended for private use with friends, you can open your server up to the public internet to attract new players. Just be sure to implement protections against griefing.

Do I have to keep my computer on 24/7?

With a self-hosted free server, yes, your computer must stay on for friends to play. Paid hosting services keep your server online 24/7 regardless of your own computer‘s status.

Is it legal to run a private server?

Yes, private servers for you and your friends are completely allowed under Minecraft‘s EULA. Just don‘t monetize your private server with donor perks, votifier rewards etc. without Mojang‘s approval.

How many players can a private server support?

A vanilla Minecraft server can support up to 10-20 players concurrently on average consumer PC hardware. With paid hosting and proper configuration, private servers can support 50-100+ players.

The Bottom Line on Free Private Servers

While free private servers are possible for small groups, paid Minecraft hosting unlocks more robust resources and flexibility for $5-$30 a month.

If you plan to host more than 10-15 frequent players online, or want to use mods and plugins, a paid server will provide the best experience. Performance, reliability, and ease of use are well worth the monthly expense.

However, for casual play with a few nearby friends, hosting your own free local server is a great free option.

I hope this detailed guide helps you decide whether to opt for a free or paid solution for your private Minecraft server needs. 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.