If you enjoy playing Minecraft, having your own server opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You can play with friends, add mods, and customize the experience however you want. But good Minecraft server hosting often requires monthly payments. So is it really possible to create your own server 100% free?
The answer is yes – with Aternos.
Aternos provides completely free Minecraft Java server hosting without any catch. There are no premium upgrades or hidden paid tiers. You get full access to features like mods, plugins, unlimited slots, and more with no upfront or recurring costs.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into how Aternos offers free hosting, what the limitations are, and how to make the most of your own Aternos server. Let’s get started!
What is Aternos and who uses it?
Founded in 2012 by German developer Matthias Neid, Aternos has grown rapidly to become one of the largest and most popular free Minecraft server hosts. Here are some key stats:
- Over 75 million registered users worldwide
- Hosts over 580,000 active Minecraft servers
- 250,000 new users join every month
- Average of 350 servers are created per hour
- Database spans 45 TB across 5 locations
- Weekly bandwidth usage exceeds 40 PB
With numbers like that, it’s safe to say Aternos has proven itself as a leading option for hobbyist and casual Minecraft server hosting.
The typical Aternos user runs a small private server with friends. But many educators also use it for classroom Minecraft projects since it’s so easy to set up. Even some public server owners use Aternos to test things out before upgrading to paid hosting.
Thanks to the free hosting, Aternos attracts a more casual audience compared to traditional paid server hosts focused on large public communities. But it’s great for playing privately with a group of friends.
Key benefits of using Aternos
Let’s look at some of the key advantages that make Aternos a top contender for free Minecraft server hosting:
Completely free forever – No paid tiers, upgrade limits, or surprise fees. All features are available to every user at no cost. Aternos relies on donations and ads instead of paid subscriptions.
Easy setup – Go from zero to hosting your own server in just a few clicks. User-friendly control panel that’s great for beginners.
Tons of customization – Install mods, plugins, and custom JARs with a few clicks. Change world generation, enable cheats, and more.
Reliable performance – Robust global server network with minimal downtime or lag for a free host.
Unlimited slots – Have as many players online as your server resources allow. Most free hosts limit slots.
No ads during gameplay – The only ads are unobtrusive banners on the website and control panel.
Browser access – Manage your server from anywhere just by logging into the Aternos website.
Active user community – Get help and advice from millions of other Aternos users on Discord, forums, etc.
For a completely free service, the features and reliability offered by Aternos are extremely impressive. Of course no free host can match the performance of paid options. But Aternos hits a sweet spot making Minecraft servers accessible to everyone.
Now let’s walk through the process of claiming your free server…
Step-by-step guide to creating an Aternos server
One of the best things about Aternos is how fast and easy it is to get started. Here is a simple step-by-step walkthrough:
1. Create an Aternos account
First, you’ll need to register for a free Aternos account. Just go to Aternos.org and click “Register” in the top right corner.
You can register quickly using your Google, Facebook, or Microsoft account. Or you can create a custom Aternos account with your email address.
Tip: Using a shared family email can allow multiple users access to the same Aternos account.
2. Launch a new server
Once registered and logged in, you’ll see a “Create Server” button on your Aternos dashboard. Click it!
On the “Create Server” page, give your server a name, click create, and that’s it! Your new Minecraft server is ready to configure.
Fun fact: Aternos launches over 350,000 new server every day!
3. Configure your server settings
The server control panel lets you configure settings like:
- Game mode (Survival, Creative, Adventure, etc)
- Hardcore mode option
- Difficulty level
- Allow cheats/commands
- Level seed for world generation
- Message of the day
- Max players
- and much more…
Tweak them however you like – it’s your server!
4. Add mods, plugins, and customization
One of the best parts of running your own server is being able to customize it with mods and plugins.
Aternos makes this super easy. You can install plugins directly from their plugin manager, upload custom modpack JARs, or add individual mods like OptiFine.
Be careful not to go overboard on mods, as too many can cause lag or stability issues. But feel free to customize your server to create the experience you want.
5. Invite friends and start playing!
Once your server is ready, it’s time to play!
Click “Options” to whitelist players, set permissions, and share access.
Then click the green “Start” button to launch your server.
Share the Aternos-generated IP address with friends and invite them to join you online!
And that’s all there is to it. Within 5-10 minutes you can be up and running with your very own free Minecraft server hosted on Aternos.
How long do Aternos servers stay online?
You may be wondering – if Aternos is a free host, how long will my server actually stay online?
This is an important question, because uptime and reliability are key for any good server host.
Here is how it works with Aternos:
Your Aternos server will stay online continuously as long as at least 1 player is connected to it. This allows you to play for as long as you want uninterrupted.
However, if your server sits idle with 0 players online for 10-20+ minutes, Aternos will automatically stop the server process to free up resources until someone tries to connect again.
As soon as a player tries to join your inactive server, Aternos will automatically restart the server backend again. This can take a few minutes to spin back up.
So you may experience a short delay joining if the server has been idle, but then it resumes working normally.
Manually stopping the server also works instantaneously when you are done playing. Just be sure to save first!
This shutdown policy allows Aternos to offer free hosting to so many users. And for casual play with friends, chances are you’ll stay connected anyway.
Good to know: Aternos keeps your inactive server data saved for at least 3 months after your last use.
What are the limitations of free Aternos hosting?
As great as the free Aternos service is, there are naturally some limitations that come with free hosting. Understanding the boundaries helps ensure a smooth experience.
Here are the key limitations to keep in mind:
Max storage space – Each server has a 4GB storage limit for worlds, mods, etc.
No port forwarding – Can‘t host servers on specific ports or IP addresses.
Idle shutdowns – Servers sleep after 10-20 minutes with no players online.
Queue times – Wait times to start servers if lots of users are online.
Limited resources – Less RAM and CPU power compared to paid hosting options.
No constant 24/7 uptime – Servers won‘t stay continuously online like a paid host.
No live chat support – Support via email tickets and Discord instead.
Limited DDoS protection – More vulnerable to attacks than paid options.
For a casual server with friends, these limits are perfectly reasonable. But for large public servers or intensive modpacks, a paid host would be better.
Overall though, Aternos still beats most free hosts in features and performance. And you can always upgrade later if needed.
How can Aternos offer free Minecraft server hosting?
Given the costs of running servers globally, you may wonder how Aternos can provide so much value completely free of charge.
Aternos relies on player donations, advertising, and partnerships rather than paid subscriptions.
Let’s look at their main revenue streams that help cover expenses:
User donations – Completely optional. Players can donate if they wish to support Aternos.
Advertising – Non-intrusive ads on the website and control panel help monetize free users.
Sponsorships – Companies can pay to have branded servers featured.
Grants and investments – Aternos has received funding from EU grants and private investors.
This diverse business model allows Aternos to offer an excellent free service to the Minecraft community without aggressively pushing paid tiers. Aternos prioritizes user experience over monetization.
The team is committed to keeping the core server hosting forever free. Financial support from the community helps make this possible.
Adding mods, plugins, and customization
One of the most powerful features of running your own Minecraft server is the ability to customize and mod it. Aternos makes it easy and approachable to tweak your server.
Let’s look at the options for adding mods, plugins, and customizations:
Integrated plugin manager – Aternos has a built-in plugin manager linked to SpigotMC and Bukkit. Browse and install plugins like WorldEdit directly from your control panel.
Upload custom JARs – For major modpacks, simply upload the custom JAR file. Aternos will install it and configure your server.
Individual mods – The Files section lets you easily add mods like OptiFine, Lucky Blocks, or Pixelmon without complicated installs.
Server JAR switching – Change between CraftBukkit, Spigot, PaperMC, and Vanilla server JARs with one click.
In-depth settings – Dive into the server properties and settings files to configure advanced options and mechanics.
The process of finding, installing, and managing mods is streamlined compared to doing it all manually on your own machine.
Pro tip: Test mods in singleplayer first before adding them to a server to check for issues.
And be cautious not to overload your free server with too many resource-intensive mods that can degrade performance over time. But overall, Aternos empowers you to easily customize your server and tailor the experience to your needs.
Can you allow cracked/pirated Minecraft accounts?
An important decision when making your server is whether or not to allow cracked or pirated Minecraft clients.
By default, Aternos servers run in “online mode” which means players must own a paid Mojang account to join. This is the most secure option.
However, you also have the choice to enable “cracked mode”. This allows players with pirated or cracked Minecraft launchers to join your server.
So should you allow cracked accounts on your Aternos server?
There are pros and cons to enabling cracked mode:
Pros of cracked mode
- Allows anyone to join, even if they don‘t own Minecraft.
- Greater accessibility for people who can‘t afford accounts.
- Usually results in more players on your server.
Cons of cracked mode
- Less secure – more vulnerable to hackers and griefers.
- Makes verifying identities and bans more difficult.
- Discourages legitimate paid account use.
- Violates Mojang EULA if monetizing cracks.
For a private server with friends that all own legitimate copies, online mode is best. But if you want large public servers, allowing cracks may make sense.
Just be very cautious of security risks if enabling cracked mode. Use permabans sparingly, backup often, and keep the server locked down.
There are reasonable arguments on both sides. Evaluate your own priorities and situation when deciding on access rules.
Great alternatives if you outgrow free Aternos hosting
One downside of free services is their limitations. At some point your needs may exceed what even Aternos can provide.
If you find yourself wanting more resources, uptime guarantees, mods, or technical capabilities, it may be time to upgrade.
Here are some top paid Minecraft server hosts to consider as alternatives to Aternos:
BisectHosting – Pay-as-you-go from just $1/GB. Great pricing.
Shockbyte – Powerful hardware starting at $2.50/GB. Excellent performance.
GGServers – Feature-packed hosting from $10/month. Great value.
MCProHosting – Robust DDoS protection for public servers.
HostHorde – SSD-powered servers and dedicated RAM.
PebbleHost – Premium support from Minecraft experts.
Paid hosts unlock more potential, but also start around $10/month minimum. Maximizing a free Aternos server as far as you can is recommended. But if you do outgrow it, plenty of affordable options exist.
Frequently Asked Questions about Aternos
Let’s wrap up with answers to some common questions people have about Aternos:
How much RAM do Aternos servers have?
- Each Aternos server starts with 2GB guaranteed RAM. They can dynamically allocate up to 6GB RAM for active servers as resources permit.
Can you make an Aternos server without registering?
- No, you need to create an Aternos account first before launching any servers. This allows them to ensure fair resource usage.
Does Aternos support Bedrock Edition or Pocket Edition?
- No. Currently Aternos only works with Java Edition Minecraft servers. Bedrock/Pocket Edition servers are not yet supported.
What is the maximum number of players on an Aternos server?
- There is no set player limit. You can have as many concurrent players as your server‘s resources can handle before lag.
Can you use Bukkit, Spigot, and PaperMC on Aternos?
- Yes! Aternos has built-in support for switching between CraftBukkit, Spigot, PaperMC, and Vanilla server JARs.
Is there live chat customer support?
- No direct live chat is offered. But you can get help via email tickets or Discord community channels. The response time is generally fast.
At the end of the day, Aternos delivers an unbeatable free Minecraft hosting solution. Despite some technical limits, you’d be hard pressed to find another service offering so much for no cost.
For casual servers up to around 10 players with friends, Aternos empowers you to easily play Minecraft the way you want. While more serious players may need paid options later on, it’s a fantastic starting point.
So if you’ve been looking for a simple way to host your own Minecraft server at no cost, try out Aternos. The setup process is quick and painless. Within minutes, you can be playing Minecraft with friends on a free high-quality server optimized for fun.