How to make a Minecraft server on Windows, Mac, or Linux

Hey, I can see your house from here!

This How to Make a Minecraft Server article was originally published on December 30, 2014 by Shawn Pfunder. It was updated on November 22, 2017 by Andy McIlwain.

Minecraft is the world’s second-most popular video game, having sold over 121 million copies as of February 2017.

But Minecraft is so much more than just a game. It’s also a tool for teaching kids how to code; an open platform to be expanded by mod developers; and it’s the heart of a global community of creators.

If you’re new to Minecraft, the easiest way to start is by buying the game and jumping in. You can even use Minecraft Realms to create your own world – it’s a sort of lightweight alternative to running your own private Minecraft server.

But if you’re interested in the full Minecraft experience, you can take it a step further by launching your own private Minecraft server. With a private server, you’re free to create a Minecraft world of your very own.

In this article we’re going to show you exactly how to do that. We’ll look at how to make a Minecraft server on a Windows PC, on a Mac, and on a Linux hosting plan.

Ready? Let’s get into it.

How to make a Minecraft server on Windows, Mac, or Linux

At a very high level, making a Minecraft server follows a few basic steps:

  1. Install the latest version of Java

  2. Install the latest version of the Minecraft server software

  3. Configure your server & network

  4. Start the server

  5. Check that your server is accessible

Things to keep in mind before you start.

Setting up a server takes some effort. You need a bit of technical know-how to properly configure a Minecraft server.

You should have a basic understanding of computer and networking concepts, which are fundamental to managing any kind of server.

Specifically, you should be comfortable and familiar with:

  • Using the command line
  • Networking (IP, DHCP, ports)
  • Your system configuration
  • Your network configuration
  • Your router configuration (for home setups)

Running a Minecraft server from home?

You don’t need a top-of-the-line system to run a Minecraft server, but a desktop computer is ideal.

While you can run a Minecraft server and play on the same machine, you’ll need a more powerful system to do it.

And lastly, use a wired ethernet connection for your server instead of wireless. A wired connection is more reliable.

What if you don’t want to host your server at home?

Hosting any kind of server from home means you’re exposing your home network to the world.

If you’d rather not take that risk, then you can use a hosting provider instead. You’ll need to pay a monthly or annual fee, but you won’t have to deal with the hassle of managing the server hardware.

A GoDaddy Virtual Private Server is a good fit if you’re just getting started. Just keep in mind that you’re sharing hardware with other users, so keep an eye on resource usage.

If you need a little more oomp and you want to hook up a lot of players, you might try a dedicated server instead.

Make a Minecraft server on your Windows PC

1. Get the latest version of Java.

Open the Windows Control Panel. Under Programs, look for Java, and click Update Now.

Open a command prompt and enter java -version. You should see a version number.

Check the Java website to see what the most recent version is.

If your version is outdated, or if you don’t have Java installed, download it from the official website.

2. Choose a location for your Minecraft server files.

Before you download the Minecraft server software, choose a location on your PC where you’d like to run the server from.

When you first run the server, it’ll create a few configuration files. It’s best to have all of these files stored in a dedicated folder.

You could place this folder on your Desktop, in your Documents folder, in your Programs folder, or anywhere else you’d like. It’s entirely up to you.

3. Download and start the Minecraft server software.

Download the server software from the Minecraft website. It comes as a Java .jar file. Save it to the location you chose in the previous step.

Double-click the .jar file to start the server. It’ll create the server configuration files, which need to be modified before the server is ready to use.

Accept the EULA: A text file called eula.txt was created. Open the file in a text editor and change eula=false to eula=true. Failing to accept the EULA will prevent you from starting the Minecraft server.

What if you see a “Can’t save server properties” error? Run the Minecraft server as an administrator by right-clicking the .jar file and selecting “Run as administrator”.

4. Enable port forwarding on your router.

Note: Port forwarding can be a security risk.

If you’re just hosting a server for players on your local network, you don’t need to worry about port forwarding. If, however, you want to make your server accessible to the world, you’ll need to enable port forwarding on your router. (To learn more about port forwarding, check out PortForward.com for tutorials.)

Refer to your router’s documentation to find specific instructions on how to configure port forwarding for your device. For Minecraft, you’ll need to forward TCP port 25565.

You’ll also need to enter your server’s local IP address as the Output IP or Server IP for the forwarded port. This tells the router which device to point at. To find your server’s local IP, open a command prompt and enter ipconfig.

5. Start the Minecraft server.

To start the Minecraft server, open the Windows command prompt.

Navigate to the file path where the Minecraft server file (named something like “minecraft_server.1.12.2.jar”) was installed.

Start the server with the following command:

java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar {server file name} nogui

(Replace {server file name} with the actual server file name.)

If you’d rather use the server’s UI, exclude the “nogui” parameter:

java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar {server file name}

You can also create a .bat file to batch the commands together.

Once the server is running, you can invite others to connect to your server via your local IP address if they’re on your home network, or via your external/public IP address if they’re not on your home network.

You can find your public IP address by searching for “my ip address” on Google.

To check if your server is accessible, enter your public IP address into the Minecraft Server Status Checker.

Make a Minecraft server on your Mac

1. Make sure you have Java installed.

Newer versions of MacOS includes Java by default. If you’re running an older version of MacOS (OS X), you may need to download the legacy version of Java from the Apple website.

2. Choose a location for your Minecraft server files.

Create a folder to contain your Minecraft server files. You could create the folder on your desktop, for example, but the choice is completely up to you.

3. Download the Minecraft server software.

Download the server software from the Minecraft website. It comes as a Java .jar file. Save it to the location you chose in the previous step.

Open TextEdit. Set the format to plain text. Enter the following:

#!/bin/bash
cd "$(dirname "$0")"
exec java -Xms1G -Xmx1G -jar {server file name} nogui

(Replace {server file name} with the actual server file name.)

Save the file as start.command in the same folder where the server’s .jar file is located.

Open the Terminal and grant permissions for the new start.command file so it can be run. Type chmod a+x with a space after the command. Drag and drop the start.command file into the terminal window. Press Enter.

4. Enable port forwarding on your router.

Note: Port forwarding can be a security risk.

If you’re just hosting a server for players on your local network, you don’t need to worry about port forwarding. If, however, you want to make your server accessible to the world, you’ll need to enable port forwarding on your router. (To learn more about port forwarding, check out PortForward.com for tutorials.)

Refer to your router’s documentation to find specific instructions on how to configure port forwarding for your device. For Minecraft, you’ll need to forward TCP port 25565.

You’ll also need to enter your server’s local IP address as the Output IP or Server IP for the forwarded port. This tells the router which device to point at. To find your server’s local IP, open the Terminal and enter ifconfig.

5. Start the Minecraft server.

Double-click the “start.command” file you created in step 3. A Terminal window will open. You’ll probably see error messages the first time you run the server. This is normal.

Once the server is running, you can invite others to connect to your server via your local IP address if they’re on your home network, or via your external/public IP address if they’re not on your home network.

You can find your public IP address by searching for “my ip address” on Google.

To check if your server is accessible, enter your public IP address into the Minecraft Server Status Checker.

Make a Minecraft server on a Linux host

If you’re not inclined to host a Minecraft server at home, you can spin up a Linux hosting plan to do it instead. This way you’re not responsible for managing any of the hardware, plus you’re not exposing your private home network to the public.

As mentioned before, a Linux VPS hosting plan from GoDaddy is a lightweight option if you’re experimenting or not expecting a lot of players to join your server. If, however, you’re expecting a lot of players, you should look at using a dedicated Linux server instead.

To follow these steps you’ll need to connect to your hosting with SSH. (If you’re not familiar with the process, this Help article has you covered.)

1. Install Java

While SSH’d into your host as the root user, enter the command:

    apt-cache search openjdk

This’ll list the available OpenJDK packages that can install Java. For this example we’ll select openjdk-7-jdk, which is the OpenJDK 7 Development Kit.

Update the list of available packages from the remote repositories:

    apt-get update

Then install the selected software package:

    apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk

Press “Y” when prompted to authorize the required storage space for installation. Once that’s done, verify that Java has been successfully installed:

    java -version

You should see the version of Java that has just been installed.

2. Create a location for your Minecraft server files.

Create a directory on your host where the Minecraft server files will be saved, then change to that directory.

    mkdir minecraft
    cd minecraft

3. Download the Minecraft server files.

Within the Minecraft directory, run the wget command to download the Minecraft server files:

    wget -O minecraft_server.jar https://s3.amazonaws.com/Minecraft.Download/versions/1.12.2/minecraft_server.1.12.2.jar

(Tip: Double-check the Minecraft download page for the URL to the latest version.)

Next, we’ll need to install and run “screen”, so that your server continues to run even when you’re not connected:

    yum install screen
    screen

4. Start your Minecraft server.

java -Xmx512M -Xms512M -jar minecraft_server.jar nogui

(Tip: You can change the -Xmx and -Xms settings to adjust allocated memory for the Minecraft server. For example, you could enter -Xmx1G -Xmx1G to bump it up to 1GB of RAM. The available memory will depend on your hosting plan.)

To make sure everything is running correctly, stop your server with:

    stop

Then edit the “server.properties” file and set:

    enable-query=true

Save the “server.properties” file and restart your server. From there, enter your server IP address into the Minecraft Server Status Checker to see if it’s publicly accessible.

5. Point a domain at your Minecraft server.

Providing players with an easy-to-remember domain name instead of a complicated IP address makes it even easier for people to connect to your Minecraft server.

It’s super simple: Update your domain’s DNS records by adding an “A” record for your domain (using @ as hostname), or subdomain (using something like “mc” as the hostname), that points to your Minecraft server’s IP address.

Note that it can take up to ~24 hours for DNS changes to take effect globally.

If you’re not sure how to change DNS records, take a look at this Help article for adding an A record.

Additional resources for managing a Minecraft server

We’ve just scratched the surface of making a Minecraft server of your very own. Here are a few resources that dig deeper into setting up, managing, and promoting your server:

As a courtesy, we provide information about how to use certain third-party products, but we do not endorse or directly support third-party products and we are not responsible for the functions or reliability of such products. Third-party marks and logos are registered trademarks of their respective owners. All rights reserved.


Also published on Medium.

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