Want to enjoy Minecraft with your friends without spending money on hosting? The good news is you can host a free Minecraft server capable of handling around 20 players simultaneously. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain multiple ways to set up a free server for your friend group along with tips to optimize performance.
Public Servers Let You Play with Thousands of Strangers
Before jumping into free options for playing privately with friends, let‘s first look at massive public Minecraft servers.
Public servers like Hypixel host thousands of players online at once. According to Hypixel‘s statistics page, over 116,000 players logged in to their server on average each day last month!
The advantage of these huge public servers is that they are completely free and accessible to all. Just lookup a server in Minecraft‘s multiplayer menu and click "Join."
However, public servers connect you with random strangers around the world rather than your real-life friends. You‘ll also often face long wait queues of up to an hour on popular servers before you can join.
So while public servers provide chaotic entertainment, they aren‘t optimal for privately enjoying Minecraft with your group.
You Can Easily Host up to 20 Friends with Free Options
When playing with friends, the two main free options are hosting your own server or using a free hosting service.
The great news is both of these options allow hosting around 10-20 players simultaneously for your group!
I‘ll now explain how you can take advantage of these free server hosting methods.
Hosting a Local Server is Great for Total Control
Hosting a Minecraft server on your own computer gives you maximum flexibility and control.
Here‘s how setting up a local free server works:
Requirements – You‘ll need a Windows or Linux PC with at least 2-4 GB of RAM and an Ethernet internet connection.
Setup – Download the Minecraft server software and follow the instructions to configure it. You‘ll also need to port forward your router‘s firewall.
Player Limit – With optimization, a self-hosted server can comfortably handle 10-20 players depending on your network bandwidth and computer performance.
The advantage of managing your own free server is you can configure it however you want. You also don‘t have to depend on any outside hosting provider.
The downside is that self-hosting requires strong technical expertise. You also need someone willing to keep the server computer running 24/7 for friends to consistently access it.
Leverage Free Hosting Services for Quick Setup
If you want a server completely managed for you without dealing with technical complexities, free hosting services make setup a breeze.
Popular free options like Minehut and Aternos allow creating a Minecraft server with just a few clicks.
However, their free tiers are limited compared to paid plans:
- Minehut – 10 player limit on free servers. Only 1 GB of RAM allocated.
- Aternos – Restricts free servers to just 5 players online simultaneously.
- GCP/AWS Free Tier – Can host a server at no cost but requires significant technical expertise.
The major advantage of free hosting services is their ease of use. But you sacrifice some control and scale compared to managing your own server.
Optimize Your Free Server for up to 20 Players
The default out-of-the-box limits for free Minecraft servers are around 10 players. But with the right optimization, you can stretch this to support 15-20 players smoothly.
Here are tips to configure your free server for maximum cost-effective performance:
Use Server Optimization Mods – Try PaperMC or Spigot for better performance than default Minecraft server software.
Upgrade Hardware – If self-hosting, invest in a fast multi-core CPU, SSD storage and 16+ GB RAM.
Allocate RAM Wisely – Give your server as much memory as possible based on hosting plan limitations.
Limit Plugins/Mods – Avoid performance heavy plugins. Optimize the ones you need for low resource usage.
Lower Settings – Reduce view distance, entity counts, and other settings to reduce strain.
Prioritize Bandwidth – Use a wired connection for self-hosted servers. Ask others in your household to limit internet usage during gameplay sessions.
With optimizations like these, you can comfortably support 15-20 of your friends on a free server. But if you want to host a significantly larger group, a paid upgrade is recommended.
Paid Servers Offer Flexibility for 50+ Players
Free Minecraft server hosting taps out at around 15-20 players max. To host a larger group of friends, a paid server is the best option.
Popular paid Minecraft hosting providers like Shockbyte, BisectHosting, and ServerMiner offer plans starting around $5 monthly for 10-20 player slots.
Paid servers give you excellent performance and flexibility to scale up. Here are some of the advantages:
More Players – Paid plans easily support 50-100 players depending on your budget. Some hosts even offer servers for 400+ players.
Improved Reliability – You get guaranteed lag-free performance and uptime with pro-grade hardware and network connectivity.
Better Support – Paid hosts provide excellent technical support if you ever need help setting up or managing your server.
Extra Features – Many paid hosts offer custom mods, maps, automated backups, DDOS protection, and more.
The one downside is the ongoing subscription fees. But for large groups, paid hosting is an investment worth making for unlimited multiplayer fun!
The Bottom Line – Free Servers Work Great for Most Friend Groups
So in summary, here‘s an overview of how many people you can host on different free and paid Minecraft server options:
- Public servers – Hundreds to thousands of random players
- Self-hosted local server – Around 15-20 close friends
- Free hosting services – Up to 10 friends
- Paid hosting – 50+ friends
For just you and your closest friends, a free Minecraft server with 10-20 player slots covers the needs of most gamer groups sufficiently.
You can also optimize and configure a free server to stretch its limits closer to 20 simultaneous players before needing to upgrade to a paid plan.
So don‘t hesitate to gather your gaming buddies and set up a free server to start exploring and building together in Minecraft today! Let me know if you have any other questions.