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How to Set Up a Minecraft Server Using a VPS (In 8 Steps)

Black and white blocks.
  • Jul 13, 2021
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  • by A2 Dev Team

With over 140 million active players worldwide, Minecraft is one of the best-selling video games of all time. However, some things are more fun with friends, and a big part of Minecraft’s success lies in public and private gaming servers.

As a hosting provider, it’s possible to turn the community’s love for multiplayer mode into a business opportunity. By setting up your own Minecraft server, you can create a more engaging, varied, and unique block-based world – and then monetize your creation.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to make money from Minecraft using a Virtual Private Server (VPS). We’ll then share a step-by-step guide to installing, configuring, and launching your own gaming server. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Minecraft

With millions of units sold worldwide, Minecraft is widely regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time. The game was originally built by Stockholm-based software developers Mojang. In 2014, Microsoft purchased both the Minecraft intellectual property and Mojang for $2.5 billion:

The Minecraft website.

This sandbox video game has a simple premise. When players log into Minecraft, they can explore a 3D world, extract raw materials, craft tools and items, and build structures:

The popular Minecraft game.

There are also various modes, including a creative mode where gamers have unlimited resources. Players can also modify the gameplay mechanisms, items, and assets.

Minecraft has amassed a slew of awards, including the Best Debut Game, Best Downloadable Game, and Innovation titles at the Game Developers Choice Awards. It is also part of the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

However, this cultural phenomenon isn’t just popular among gamers. Unusually for a mainstream video game, Minecraft is frequently used in educational settings. For example, one teacher recreated various historical landmarks for their students to explore.

Minecraft has even taught younger players how to code, and how to build virtual and hardware devices. In fact, the game has become so popular among educators that its developers have created a special Minecraft: Education Edition. This edition is dedicated to promoting the use of Minecraft within schools, and has some extra features that can help teachers monitor their students’ progress within the game.

Why Create Your Own Minecraft Server

Although you can explore Minecraft’s block-based world solo, the game’s multiplayer mode is hugely popular. By logging into a shared server, players can work together to create bigger and better things than they could ever build alone.

However, public servers open up the possibility for bullying and harassment. This is particularly concerning due to Minecraft’s young fan base.

Fortunately, it’s possible to create your own Minecraft server. This gives you complete control over the game instance, including setting your own rules and choosing who can access your world.

There’s also the opportunity to monetize your Minecraft server by charging for access. To start, you might create a server that caters to the needs of a particular community. For example, by strictly moderating your server, you can appeal to parents who are concerned about their children enjoying their favorite game in a secure environment.

Alternatively, you might focus on creating a more interesting Minecraft experience. If you construct a large, unique gaming world populated by mini-games, expansions, and beautiful structures, then players may be willing to pay a premium in order to experience the world you’ve created.

You might even permit people to join your server for free, while generating revenue through other means. Minecraft’s Commercial Usage Guidelines expressly forbid selling any in-game benefits. However, there are many add-ons that don’t affect the actual gameplay. This includes in-game cosmetics, such as a different color for the player’s name, or a visual effect that appears around the player’s character.

As your server grows in popularity, there might also be some scope to secure sponsorships or display online advertisements. Alternatively, you might make some money via affiliate links. All of this can turn your Minecraft server into a lucrative revenue stream.

Why You May Want to Use a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

When it comes to creating a Minecraft server, you’ll need enough firepower to ensure smooth and responsive gameplay. In terms of horsepower, it’s difficult to beat a dedicated server. However, those are some of the most costly hosting plans.

That’s where a Virtual Private Server (VPS) comes in. With a VPS, your provider can host multiple customers on the same server. This helps minimize their running costs, which means they can offer VPS hosting at a more affordable price.

Similar to a bare metal server, with a VPS you’re allocated a portion of the server’s physical resources and functionality. This puts you in a strong position to provide fast rendering and a lag-free gaming experience. If you want to wow your community without breaking the bank, a VPS may be the solution.

When creating a gameplay server, there’s also a good chance that your requirements may change over time. You might attract lots of new players, install more mod packs, or continue adding new areas to your block-based world.

As the game’s demands grow, it becomes even more crucial to have guaranteed access to your server’s resources. However, with shared plans you run the risk of winding up with bad neighbors who consume an unfair portion of resources.

Your neighbors may even experience an upsurge in traffic. While this is great for them, it means less resources for you. A shared server combined with growing demands can be a recipe for disaster. If the gameplay starts to suffer, your players may go elsewhere.

With VPS hosting, you’re separated from other users. This gives you more flexibility to configure your server. By optimizing your VPS specifically for Minecraft, you should have no problems delivering a fast, responsive gaming experience and growing your community.

How to Set Up a Minecraft Server Using a VPS (In 8 Steps)

Minecraft may have launched way back in 2011, but this popular game shows no signs of slowing down. In 2020 alone, it generated over $142 million.

Let’s see how you can turn the biggest video game of all time into your next business opportunity. Here’s how to set up your own Minecraft server, in eight easy steps.

1. Choose a VPS Package

For Minecraft, we recommend a server with 1.5GB of RAM and at least 15GB of hard drive space. At A2 Hosting, all of our managed VPS plans provide more than enough firepower to run a successful Minecraft VPS. If you’d prefer an unmanaged plan, then we’d recommend Runway 2 or higher.

It’s also smart to consider how your needs may change over time. If you install add-ons, plugins, and texture packs, this will all increase your requirements. As your game attracts more players, you may also need to upgrade your plan, or risk damaging the player experience by forcing them to endure lagging gameplay.

In almost all instances, A2 Hosting offers free migration for existing customers who are upgrading their accounts to a higher level service. This means that you can be confident about providing a high level of performance and reliability, regardless of how big your Minecraft world grows.

Installing Minecraft and the associated software does require root access. The good news is that all of our managed and unmanaged VPS plans come with optional root access. This gives you the freedom to choose the plan that offers you the best value for money, and provides your Minecraft community with the best user experience.

2. Connect Over Secure Shell Protocol (SSH)

The next step is connecting to your VPS over Secure Shell Protocol (SSH). This is a protocol that enables you to communicate with your server over an unsecured network. Once you’ve made this link, you can configure your server to run Minecraft.

To start, you’ll need to know your IP Address, SSH Port, and root password. A2 Hosting customers can find all of this information by logging into the client area. In the toolbar, select Services > My Services:

The A2 Hosting client area.

Find the account that you want to connect to, and click on the accompanying Manage button. On the subsequent screen, select the Additional Information tab:

A2 Hosting's VPS settings.

This screen contains all the information you need to connect over SSH. To input this information, open a terminal on your local computer. You can then type the following command, being sure to replace port-number and ip-address with your own information:

ssh -p port-number [email protected]

You’ll find the port number in your A2 Hosting dashboard, listed as FTP/SFTP Port. Here, you’ll also find the IP address. Your completed terminal command should look something like this:

ssh -p 22 [email protected]

To run this command, press the Enter key on your keyboard. Assuming that you’ve entered the correct port number and IP address, the terminal will ask for your password.

You’ll find this information in the A2 Hosting client area, listed as Root Password (SSH/WHM). After typing your password, press the Enter key again. You should now be connected to your VPS as [[email protected]:/root]$.

3. Install the Open Java Development Kit

Since Minecraft runs on Java, you’ll need to install the Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK) on your VPS. This is a free and open source implementation of the Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE).

We’re going to install OpenDK using the YUM package management tool. This popular tool performs dependency resolution when installing, updating, and deleting software packages.

To install OpenJDK, enter the following command into your terminal:

yum install java-1.8.0-openjdk

Then hit the Enter key. YUM will now check the requested software package and any dependencies you require in order to run OpenJDK.

After a few moments, the terminal should display some information about the download, including its estimated size:

How to create your own Minecraft server.

If you’re happy to proceed, then press the Y key. SSH will now download and install the OpenJDK on your VPS.

4. Install Minecraft

To keep your server organized, it’s smart to create a directory for all of your Minecraft content. You can do this using the following command:

mkdir –p /Minecraft

You can navigate to this folder using the change directory (cd) command:

cd /Minecraft

Now that we’re inside the Minecraft directory, it’s time to install the Minecraft software! At the time of writing, the latest version of Minecraft Server was 1.17.1. However, you can always check the official Minecraft website for the most recent update. On that page, find the download Minecraft server link:

The Minecraft server website.

Hover over this link, and then Control-click. Next, select Copy Link Address from the context menu that appears:

How to setup your own Minecraft server.

We’ll use the wget command to download the Minecraft Server jar. Your finished command should look something like this:

wget -O minecraft_server.jar https://launcher.mojang.com/v1/objects/1b557e7b033b583cd9f66746b7a9ab1ec1673ced/server.jar

After a few moments, you should see a ‘server.jar’ saved message. Congratulations, you’ve just installed Minecraft on your VPS!

5. Accept the End-User License Agreement (EULA)

The next step is configuring the Minecraft jar file. To help you keep track, you may want to rename this file. For example, you might rename server.jar to reflect the version of Minecraft you just downloaded.

In the following example, we’re renaming server.jar to minecraft_server.1.17.1.jar:

mv server.jar minecraft_server.1.17.1.jar

Before starting your Minecraft server, you’ll need to agree to the End-User License Agreement (EULA). This is a legal agreement between you and Mojang, which sets out some guidelines for how you can use the Minecraft software.

In your terminal, enter the following command:

java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar minecraft_server.1.17.1.jar nogui

You may need to change the above command to reflect your renamed jar file.

At this point, the terminal should ask you to agree to the Minecraft EULA. To verify that your download contains the EULA file, run the following command:

ls

The terminal will now list the contents of your /minecraft directory, which should include the EULA file. Assuming that you have this file, you can open it for editing using the Nano text editor:

nano eula.txt

Now, read through the EULA. If you agree to the terms and conditions, change eula=false to eula=true:

The Minecraft server EULA.

You can then save the EULA file. Now that you’ve agreed to Minecraft’s terms, you’re ready to configure your server.

6. Configure Your Server

The server.properties file specifies all the gaming settings and variables. By editing this file you can customize the Minecraft experience.

This includes cosmetic changes, such as providing a unique welcome message, but also fundamental changes to the gameplay mechanics. For example, you can change the world size and the number of players permitted.

To start configuring your Minecraft server, type the following:

vi server.properties

Then hit Enter. The terminal will now display the current configuration for your Minecraft server:

The Minecraft server configuration.

If you want to edit any of these settings, enter Insert mode by pressing the I key. You can then use your arrow keys to move between the different settings.

Let’s look at a simple example. By default, the difficulty level is set to Easy. This means that enemies will spawn, but they’ll inflict less damage when compared to Normal or Hard mode. It’s also not possible for enemies to poison players, or for zombies to break down doors.

If you want to really challenge your players, you could use the arrow keys to navigate to the difficulty=easy line. You can then edit these settings.

For example, you might change it to difficulty=normal or difficulty=hard:

A Minecraft server configuration file.

When you’re happy with your changes, you can exit Insert mode by pressing your keyboard’s Escape key. Then, type in the following:

:wq

Hit Enter, and you’l be returned to the main terminal window.

7. Install Screen

You’re almost ready to launch your Minecraft server. However, currently if you disconnect from the session, it will also stop the game. This can alienate your players, so you’ll need to address this issue before taking your server live.

To ensure that your session persists, we recommend installing Screen. With this popular utility in your corner, processes will continue to run even when their window is not visible or if you get disconnected.

Screen also enables you to initiate a command from one terminal, disconnect from that terminal, and then reconnect from a different location. You can install Screen using the following commands:

yum –y install screen
screen -S "Minecraft server"

Now, you can start the Minecraft server by executing your jar file. In the terminal, enter the following:

java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar minecraft_server.1.17.1.jar nogui

The system will now execute your Minecraft jar file. After a few moments, you should see a message confirming that this process is done. Your Minecraft server is now up and running.

8. Configure Your Firewall

At this point, you can detach from the Minecraft screen by pressing Ctrl + A + D. To reattach to the session, press Ctrl + R.

If you’re going to monetize your VPS, you’ll need to allow incoming connections by editing your firewall configuration. By default, Minecraft uses port 25565, which means you’ll need to set up port forwarding for 25565:

iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 25565 -j ACCEPT

Now, people can connect to your server from the Minecraft launch screen. From this screen, they’ll need to select Multiplayer:

How to connect to a Minecraft server.

They can then select Add Server, and enter the IP or web address of your server. Finally, they’ll just need to choose Join Server, and they should successfully connect to your Minecraft VPS!

Conclusion

Multiplayer mode is hugely popular among the Minecraft community, but running a successful gaming server costs money. By opting for a Virtual Private Server (VPS), you can minimize your running costs and maximize your profits.

If you’re going to wow your players, then it’s important to deliver a smooth, lag-free gaming experience. This is where a VPS can be your secret weapon. Similar to a dedicated server, with a VPS you’re allocated a portion of the server’s physical resources. However, you don’t have to break the bank on an expensive plan.

At A2 Hosting, we’ve carefully designed our VPS plans to provide the cost-savings of shared hosting with the performance of a dedicated server. By opting for one of our VPS plans, you can set your new Minecraft venture up for success, and appeal to the huge (and growing) gaming community!

Image credit: Pexels.

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