Minecraft, like most modern games, runs in something called a “client-server” architecture. This means that the player uses one computer, called a “client,” while the game’s data and much of its programming and logic can reside on a second computer called a “server.”
Client-server architecture is what makes multiplayer games possible. If there are many clients and a single server, then all the players using those client computers can compete with each other in a shared “world” managed by the server.
In order to run Minecraft in such an architecture, it is necessary to set up the server computer so it can work with the clients that connect to it. This can be a little tricky, as there are many different technologies that have to be configured to work with each other. The end result, however, will be a system that should be able to support connections from any player’s Minecraft client machine and also support running the game normally.
How to Set Up a Minecraft Server
A game server can be a significant load on a computer, so the first thing you should consider is checking the capacity of the machine you intend to use. Your system should have sufficient RAM (at least 8GB to start) and a relatively fast central processing unit or CPU. Your network connection should also be relatively fast, preferably 2 gigabits or higher.
The Minecraft server runs on Windows and is written in the Java programming language, so you will need to make certain you have the latest version of Java installed, and you will need to make sure it matches the architecture of your Windows system, either 64-bit or 32-bit.
Once you have set up your server machine you will download the Minecraft Server application that matches your system type and store it in a dedicated directory on your hard drive. From there you can run the server application. It will install itself and present you with some options for configuration. You may see some “missing file” messages. These are normal. When you see the “Preparing Spawn Area” message followed by “Done,” enter “stop” in the text area.
You will start configuration with a file called server.properties. Each property is listed in a label and value format. You can set these properties by opening the file with a text editor like Notepad. Once you have configured your server properties the way you wish, save the file again. There are numerous settings, all of which change the rules and how the server will conduct the game. References for all the server settings are available in many locations online.
Authorizing Players and Administrators
In your server.properties file is a setting called “white-list.” You will want to set this to “true” so you can control who will have access to your server. Once you have the white-list configured, you should open the white-list file with Notepad and add the usernames of all the players you want to have access to your server, each on a separate line.
You can add administrators for the server to the file labeled ops.txt. Each of these usernames will represent someone who can control various settings in the game from chat mode.
Once your server is running and you have configured the options and player list, you will need to configure your router hardware to forward TCP port 25565 to your Minecraft server. This will enable the application to communicate with the client computers connecting to your network to log in and play.
The particulars of setting up a router to forward a TCP port vary by manufacturer. You will need to consult the instructions for your router to find the correct procedure.
Once your router is configured you will need to determine your public IP address. You can often accomplish this by connecting to a site like “whatismyipaddress.com” from the machine running your Minecraft server. If you are running your server to host only machines connecting through a local network, your IP address and the addresses of all the client machines can be set by the router itself.
Very often these kinds of server installations will work without any extra troubleshooting. However, if you run into problems the best way to proceed is to go back to the last step that worked and move forward again from there.
Lastly, you may want to test your server to ensure that it can handle the demand of all your visitors playing Minecraft. To do this, you can use a free load testing tool like JMeter, or a more comprehensive tool like LoadView-Testing. The choice is up to you, but whatever you choose, it’s important to make sure.