Minecraft is a popular sandbox game for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because of the ability to play with other people.  

To play online with your friends, you will need to set up a Minecraft server that you can both connect to. In our Minecraft coding camps, every class has its own server to customize and play in.

I’ll show you how to easily make your own Minecraft server and start playing with friends today!

Please note: We recommend getting a parent’s permission before setting up a Minecraft server. Parts of this tutorial can cause security risks, you should have a parent with you and do not download anything extra.

What is a Minecraft Server?

A Minecraft server allows multiple people to play together in the same Minecraft world. Having your own server means you and your friends get to create an entire world from the ground up. You’ll have full control over in-game features and the back-end commands.

Can you make a Minecraft server for free?

Yes, using your computer you can make a free multiplayer Minecraft server for yourself and your friends. Use the steps to setup a Minecraft server using Java. To play Minecraft with friends, you’ll need to set up port forwarding and share your IP address (Warning: only give your IP address to trusted individuals). When you make your own server you will only pay what it costs to keep your computer running. 

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Boy playing on minecraft server

Steps for Creating a Minecraft Server

  1. Download the Latest Version of Java
  2. Download the Server.jar File
  3. Create Your Server Configuration Files
  4. Run Your Server
  5. Set Up Port Forwarding
  6. Configuring Server Properties

1. Download the Latest Version of Java

Let’s begin making our own Minecraft server. 

Create a new folder that will hold all of our server downloads. In our examples, we will be placing everything inside a folder called “My Awesome Server” directly on the desktop. To create a new folder:

Minecraft server step 1 Java

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If you don’t have the latest version of Java, download it. That link should take you to the right Java download regardless of if you are using a Mac or PC.

Minecraft server step 1 Java
Minecraft server step 1 Java

2. Download the Server.jar File

Now you should have the latest version of Java. Next, you need to download the server.jar file. 

java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar minecraft_server.1.20.1.jar nogui

If you’re following along with the images/gifs in this tutorial, you may find you have a different Java version number than what is showing. That’s okay, the steps should be the same. 

You may get a warning from your computer saying that this file may be harmful. This is a normal warning for any .jar file. If you don’t know where it comes from, then you should be worried about it. That being said, I think we can trust Minecraft on this one.

If you’re given the option, save the .jar file into the “My Awesome Server” folder. If not, just copy and paste or drag the download into the folder once it finishes.

Minecraft server step 2 download server.jar

3. Create Your Minecraft Server Configuration Files

Once you have your server.jar file inside your “My Awesome Server” folder, either double-click it or right-click > open it to create your configuration files automatically. 

There is a EULA agreement (End User License Agreement) that you will need to accept to prevent your server from immediately crashing. Open up the EULA file (it may say eula.txt depending on your machine) and change eula=false to eula=true. Then go to File > Save or press ctrl+s to save the server.jar file. 

Minecraft server step 3 configure files

4. Run Your Minecraft Server

You can now run your new server.

Once again, double-click your server.jar file. You will now create a handful of new files and also see your server start. 

If your goal was to make your own Minecraft server to play with friends on the same internet connection as you then you have reached the end. Congratulations!

For friends on the same internet connection, log onto Minecraft and click the Multiplayer tab and they should find the server you just created. Note that you both also need to be using the same version of Minecraft, for example, Minecraft bedrock or Java edition.

Minecraft server step 4 run your server

The Server Window

The server window gives you additional information to help you keep track of what’s going on:

1. Use the Stats panel to see how much memory the server is using
2. Use the Players panel to check who is currently connected to the server
3. Use the Log and Chat panel to see server messages and player chats
4. Use the command field at the bottom to enter server commands

For friends on different internet connection, we still have some more work to do. In that case, continue on….

5. Set Up Port Forwarding

Warning: This is probably the most challenging part of the tutorial and it’s also the section that can cause security risks. Ensure you have a parent with you when you complete this step and do not download anything extra. 

Port forwarding is required if you want your friends to connect to your server when they are connected to a different internet connection than you. Unfortunately, this step will be different depending on which router you are using. I will list the steps that it takes to get my Xfinity router set up for port forwarding, but you may have to research your own router and follow its steps. 

The first step for me is navigating to the Port Forwarding section on Xfinity’s website. I found this by googling “How to Port Forward my Xfinity Router” so I suggest a similar search for you but with your specific router’s name. 

Minecraft server step 5 port forwarding

The next step for me had common configurations to use, including Minecraft, so I went ahead and chose that. If you don’t have this option, the important thing to know is to use port number 25565 for Minecraft. Any other port number will not work.

Minecraft server step 5 port forwarding

Note that I blocked off my IP Address, this is the part that you want to keep secure. Do not give your IP address to anyone you do not know or trust. Depending on your router, they may reserve a custom IP address for you (Xfinity did this for me). If that’s the case, this is the IP Address you will provide to your friends to access your server. If they do not reserve one for you, you will have to use your own IP address. 

Minecraft server step 5 port forwarding

Once you have completed Port Forwarding, your friends can log into Minecraft and click the Add Server button. They can name the server whatever they want (it does not have to match your name) and then type in your IP address.

If you do not know your public IP address you can google “What’s my IP address” and it should be one of the first results. 

The full IP address should look something like this:

You may or may not need the :25565 at the end of the IP address when adding the server. We recommend trying without, then with it if it fails to recognize the server.

Join friends Minecraft server
Join friends Minecraft server

6. Configuring Minecraft Server Properties

Now that you have your own Minecraft server running, it’s time to edit your server properties how you want. 

Inside the “My Awesome Server” folder, you’ll see a file called server.properties. Right now your computer won’t know how to open the file, but if you right-click it and select Open with you can view a list of options to open the file.

You can open this file in any text editor of your choosing, but Notepad works just fine. When you open the file you’ll see a long list of different server properties. You can edit each one to your liking. 

You’ll find a list of all the server properties and what they mean here, but let’s discuss some common ones that you’ll want to know about first.

Here’s what my server.properties file looks like when opening it up using windows notepad.

Minecraft server step 6 update server properties

Options for Making a Minecraft Server

You can create a Minecraft server in a few different ways so it’s important to understand your options. 

1 – Rent A Minecraft Server

You can create a Minecraft server through server hosting. In this case, you rent a server through a third-party, such as Apex Hosting or Hostinger. These services do nearly everything for you, but you need to pay a monthly service fee for it. This can be as low as $5, depending on the service you use. 

2 – Use Minecraft Realms

Minecraft runs personal multiplayer servers that allow you to play with up to two additional players, called Realms. With a Realm, your Minecraft world is online and always accessible, even when you log off. There’s also Realms Plus. This is a personal Realms server for up to 10 additional players plus access to a curated catalog of Minecraft Marketplace content.

3 – Make A Minecraft Server

You can run a Minecraft server yourself. This saves you from paying a mon