Tired of playing Minecraft by yourself or running into limits on how many friends you can play together with? Would you like to create a shared world? Interested in creating an online community, organizing quests, or minigames like Bedwars? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, running your own Minecraft server might be for you!
The rest of this blog post covers the different options for hosting your own Minecraft server. Our recommendation is to use MC Playdates because it is the easiest to use and avoids the limitations and complexity of the other options. At Code Knights this is the hosting service we use. Note that we’re just a happy customer, this is not a sponsored blog post, and we are not being compensated for promoting MC Playdates.
Microsoft Realms subscriptions come in two sizes for two different prices, up to 2 players or up to 10 players. This can be a good choice as an “intro” level server, or if you want the standard Minecraft experience and want to play with a small number of people but never plan to do anything advanced.
In addition to the player limits, there are a few caveats that you should be aware of. Minecraft comes in two main editions, Java Edition and Bedrock Edition and each edition has many different versions. Realms servers don’t allow for crossplay between editions or between different versions, so you’ll only be able to play with people that have the same edition and version of the game.
Further, the subscription and all game settings are managed through the Minecraft application. This is fine if the player that purchases the realm is also the administrator. This is not ideal for parents, esports leagues, clubs, or educators because it puts the player — not the administrator — in charge of configuration. It takes a strong will to avoid using administrator commands to unfair advantage during gameplay.
Check out the Minecraft Realms Fandom page for more details, especially requirements and limitations. Microsoft allows you to download your worlds, so you can always give it a try. If you find yourself running into the limitations, you can migrate to one of the other options described below without losing anything.
Minecraft server hosting companies offer subscriptions that enable you to run servers with all of the features of Realms, while eliminating most or all of the limitations — including player limits. Server hosts enable advanced server configurations such as minigames, all versions and editions playing together, and also supporting “mods”, “plugins”, and “minigames” that augment or change the game.
The server host handles the compute, networking, and storage infrastructure your server is running on. The major challenge is that most server configuration, management, and maintenance now becomes your job. This is a good option if you have a technical background or are interested in learning, and wish to deliver an amazing experience for your players. Be prepared for a large time investment. You’ll spend your time installing, debugging, upgrading, reading through log messages, editing config files, and managing software updates and plugin compatibility issues.
|We’re covering MC Playdates in its own section because they stand out from other Minecraft server hosting companies in three significant ways.|
First, their server management dashboard is designed with the user’s tasks in mind (some examples include inviting players, setting playtimes, tweaking game rules, and Bedwars setup). Other server hosts center around installing the software and editing the config files necessary to accomplish the tasks you want to complete — so with them you need to become an expert in what the various config file settings mean.
Second, all MC playdates servers come with automatically managed server lobbies at no extra cost. Lobbies (sometimes called hubs) are small worlds your players start in that enable you to give out a single server address that takes your players to multiple servers. With other hosts, lobbies not only cost extra, but also require different skills to configure and manage.
At Code Knights, each time we add or remove a server, or change who’s invited, it’s immediately reflected in the lobby without any work on our part. Before we found MC Playdates, we would limit Code Knights Hangout events to activities on a single server. Now our players just run their character through a portal to join a different activity.
Third, MC Playdates servers automatically support all Minecraft editions and versions playing together in the same world. No matter which device, Minecraft edition, or version our participants are using, they can all play on the same server.
Before switching to MC Playdates, we spent the first 15 or 20 minutes during our Minecraft Hangout events getting everyone connected, and we had to limit players to a specific version of Java Edition. Now everyone gets connected quickly and the events are more fun!
Running your own server offers you the most flexibility, but is the most complex option. It’s only recommended for highly technically experienced people with significant time to dedicate. You are responsible for all aspects of the server administration, security, maintenance, and configuration.
In addition to the configuration you manage with server hosting companies, you’ll also handle everything server hosting companies do for you. You’ll be fully responsible for network configuration, security, server execution lifecycle, and ongoing infrastructure management like backups.
Locating your server in the cloud typically costs more than using a Minecraft server hosting provider. Leveraging a spare computer in your home may save money, but it adds additional complexity with network, router, and server configurations so players can connect through your firewall. Mitigating the security risks of intrusion into your home network requires deep expertise and ongoing time investment.
If you’ve read this far, you must be excited about hosting your own Minecraft server! Our primary recommendation is to use MC Playdates. Their comprehensive server management dashboard will enable you to spend the least amount of time and effort on server management so your players can have more fun.
Your players will appreciate the minigames, plugins, lobbies, and especially the cross edition and cross version compatibility. You’ll appreciate the automatic server management, including backups, upgrades and extensive set of click-to-enable plugins and minigames.
If you have simple needs, only need a few people to play together, and everyone is on the same Minecraft Edition and version, consider Realms. We recommend that someone mature, such as a parent or older kid, is the subscriber and administrator. Otherwise the temptation to abuse administrator commands can be overwhelming. Additionally, the administrator manages which players are invited, which world the players are playing in, and all other server settings. If you’re a parent that wants some control over who your kid is playing with, be sure that it’s your account that subscribes.
Only if you’re highly technical, have a lot of time to dedicate, and are interested in the technology behind hosting Minecraft servers should you consider using a hosting provider and/or running your own server.
Want to learn how to create Minecraft mods? Kids ages 7-15 can join our weekly Minecraft Coding Class. It's lots of fun - code, then play games with friends!