Released back in November 2011, Minecraft is almost 8-years-old at this point and still as popular as ever. The game sold over 176 million copies as of 2019, which makes it the best-selling title of all time. Thanks to its blocky graphics and simple yet engaging gameplay, Minecraft holds up remarkably well to this day and will likely continue to age like a fine wine for the foreseeable future. If you still haven’t had a chance to play this highly-acclaimed sandbox game, you’ve been missing out, but don’t worry because it’s not too late to give it a shot.
The Best Place to Host Your Minecraft Server
Although fun as a single-player experience, Minecraft truly shines when played with friends. Now, you could always try a public server but if you want to avoid potential hackers and griefers, I would recommend going with a private server instead. That way, you will be able to enjoy the game without having to worry about other players spoiling your experience. But should you go with a premium service or a free Minecraft server hosting provider?
There are definitely pros and cons to both options and we’re going to discuss them in detail a bit later in this article. Before we do that, however, let’s take a look at some of the most popular companies that offer Minecraft hosting services. In order to better exemplify why one option might be better for you than the other, we’re first going to cover a well-known paid option before moving on to some of the free services.
Shockbyte is a veteran Minecraft hosting provider that was established just a couple of years after the release of the game. The company offers servers for a few other popular online games like Ark: Survival Evolved and Rust but Minecraft is definitely its bread and butter. Shockbyte puts most of its competitors to shame when it comes to features, performance, and customer support. Even more impressively, however, is the fact that the company’s excellent services are available at incredibly cheap prices.
One of the main reasons why you would want to go with a paid option instead of a free one is so that you can take advantage of all the premium features they offer. In the case of Shockbyte, you can expect full FTP access, DDoS protection, a free MySQL database, unlimited storage and bandwidth, snapshot support, and more. In addition, Shockbyte also includes instant setup, support for all the most popular Minecraft mod packs, task scheduling, Java version switcher, and a very intuitive Multicraft control panel, among other things.
Minecraft servers offered by most other hosting providers come with a limited number of slots, however, that’s not the case here. All the packages available at Shockbyte can support an unlimited number of players, which is a very nice feature to have indeed. What’s more, all servers come with a 100% uptime guarantee and a free subdomain. There are four server locations to choose from so make sure to pick the one that’s closest to you in order to avoid latency issues.
Specs and Price
Shockbyte is one of the cheapest Minecraft server hosting providers out there. For only $2.50 per month, you can buy a server that comes with 1 GB of RAM and can easily support more than 20 players. Again, all packages come with unlimited slots but it’s good to go for a plan with extra resources if you want to bring more than the recommended number of players to your server. Luckily, Shockbyte has excellent scalability and offers about a dozen or so plans to choose from.
Each subsequent plan comes with an additional GB of RAM and is $2.50 more expensive than the previous one. For example, the $5 package comes with 2 GB of RAM, the $.7.50 package comes with 3 GB of RAM and so on. That makes it very easy to figure out how much you’ll need to pay for the specific amount of resources you need. To make things even easier, just remember that you pay $2.50 for every GB of RAM and each GB can support around 20 players without any issues.
Shockbyte has a very professional and knowledgeable customer support team that can assist you 24/7. The company’s support agents can be contacted via live chat or a ticket system. You can also try learning how to fix possible server problems yourself by consulting the extensive knowledge base and FAQ sections found on the official website. A nice thing about Shockbyte is that the company has a very active YouTube channel where it posts helpful guides and tutorials all the time, so don’t hesitate to check it out.
- Premium features included with every package
- Unlimited slots with all plans
- Free subdomain
- Intuitive control panel
- Very affordable
- Aimed mostly at users from the US or EU
- 24-hour money-back guarantee
Shockbyte’s prices are already very affordable but you can get an even better deal on your Minecraft server by using one of two methods. The first is by using our coupon code: MAMBOSERVER, this will grant you a 25% discount on your first purchase. The second is by taking advantage of the 50% discount offered by Shockbyte themselves. You will need to subscribe to the company’s newsletter and then confirm your email in order to receive the discount.
It’s worth noting that this is a limited-time offer so make sure to use our coupon code if the 50% off deal is no longer available by the time you’re reading this. The coupon can only be applied once but works on any purchase so it’s a good idea to go for one of the long-term plans, such as quarterly or yearly if you want to make the most out of the discount.
Top 3 Free Minecraft Server Hosting Services
Server.pro is one of the most well-known providers of Minecraft hosting, both free and paid. Although the company does incentivize players to purchase its premium services, you can stick to the free plan for as long as you want. As you might imagine, the free plan does come with a number of limitations, however, it is a good place to start for those who want to play Minecraft on a private server with a small group of friends. Make sure you also check out our Server.pro review if you want to learn all about the company and the services they provide.
The free plan includes 5 GB of SSD storage, standard DDoS protection, full FTP access, and a one-click plugin installer. Interestingly enough, the free servers feature the exact same specs as the premium ones so performance should not be an issue here. Server.pro supports both the Java and Bedrock editions of Minecraft, along with a handful of popular variants like CraftBukkit, Spigot, PocketMine, BlueLight, Tessaract, and more. There are a few additional variants available but those are reserved for the paid plans. As far as the coverage is concerned, free plan users can only pick between two locations – France and Canada.
Specs and Price
Server.pro’s free plan comes with a dual-core CPU and 1 GB of RAM. Many other free services only offer 512 MB of RAM so 1 gig of memory is actually pretty good. However, the free version can only support up to 10 players and will not allow you to install more than 10 plugins. By comparison, the paid plans come with an unlimited number of slots and support for unlimited plugins. In case you decide to upgrade further down the road, the paid packages start at $5 per month and will grant you 2 GB of RAM to work with along with a number of advanced features.
The company only provides two support channels – email and ticket. You can’t reach support agents via phone or live chat, which is a bit of a bummer. However, the company does have an FAQ section on its official website and plenty of video guides on its YouTube channel.
- DDoS protection
- Good performance
- Decent amount of memory
- Only two server locations
- No instant setup
Aternos is a company that exists for the sole purpose of providing free Minecraft server hosting services for everybody. Most companies that offer free servers also have a paid option but that’s not the case here. In fact, you couldn’t pay for anything even if you wanted to. This has made Aternos a very popular choice to the point where it currently hosts over 400.000 players every day, according to the company.
The number of features available here is pretty impressive considering that Aternos is a 100% free service. The company offers a fully adjustable control panel, DDoS protection, an automatic server backup system, support for custom worlds, and more. You can also expect to be able to add a wide variety of mods and plugins to your server. It’s interesting to note that Aternos collaborated with many partners in order to establish this free service, including Glowstone, Spiget, Songoda, and CSC Bonn.
In this section, we usually go over the server specs but in this case, there’s not much information to go on. Aternos uses a very simplistic website and doesn’t disclose any important details regarding the specs. What we do know is that the company uses dual-core processors to power its machines and that the recommended number of players is between 8 and 20. Based on that info, it’s safe to assume that you would have 512 MB to 1 GB of memory to work with here, which is pretty standard for free Minecraft servers.
Despite working with a very small team, Aternos has a very solid customer support system. You can contact agents via ticket or email, as well as various social media channels and messaging apps. A few of the additional options include Discord, Twitter, Telegram, and Teamspeak. Aternos also has its own forums and a very helpful knowledge base on its official website.
- 100% free
- DDoS protection
- Automatic backups
- Great support
- No info regarding the specs
- No info regarding location coverage
- Support agents can sometimes take a while to reply
OMGServ is another very solid option for anyone who is looking for a free Minecraft server hosting service. Similar to Server.pro, OMGServ is primarily a paid service that also happens to offer a free version. That said, the free plan is pretty solid and comes with a decent number of basic features that will allow you to run your own Minecraft server without any issues.
Most of the advanced features offered by OMGServ are reserved for the paid plans. If you’re going with the free version, you’ll be missing out on things like scheduled backups, MySQL databases, mods, and even technical support. Quite a few restrictions indeed. However, you can expect DDoS protection, FTP access, a simple to use control panel, and the ability to create unlimited worlds, among other things. OMGServ also includes access to a live console and offers 1-click installs for over 160 versions of Minecraft, including quite a few Snapshot variants. There are only two server locations to choose from – North America and France.
Specs and Price
The free plan only gives you 512 MB of RAM to work with, which is a bit low. Then again, OMGServ only allows up to 4 players on its free servers so the memory shouldn’t be a major concern. Although the number of slots is very restrictive, you can at least expect to have an unlimited amount of SSD storage at your disposal. If you decide to switch to one of the paid plans at some point, you can upgrade to the starter package for just $1.67 per month or go for the premium plan, which will set you back $4.17 per month.
OMGServ has a pretty reliable support team but, unfortunately, the company doesn’t offer technical assistance to those who use the free plan. You could check out the forums but most threads seem to be in French so you’re out of luck if you’re an English speaker. Instead, I would recommend visiting the FAQ and Tutorials section on the official website for help.
- Unlimited SSD storage
- DDoS protection
- 1-click installs
- Only supports 4 players
- Only two server locations
- Low memory
- No technical support
Paid vs. Free
It’s pretty easy to see that there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both paid and free Minecraft server hosting services. Before you decide to sign up with any of the providers we’ve covered today it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option. In this section, we’re going to talk a bit about paid vs free hosting services just so you have a better idea of what to expect.
When it comes to paid services, there’s only one real disadvantage you need to worry about and that’s, of course, the financial investment. Subscribing to one of these services comes with a price tag, which you can generally pay either once per month or several months in the advance. Luckily, certain hosting providers like Shockbyte will only charge you a couple of bucks per month for a basic package, so the financial investment you will need to make is quite small. What’s more, you can apply coupon codes or purchase a long-term plan in order to get an even better deal on your hosting package.
One thing that’s important to mention is that you may come across companies that offer multiple types of paid hosting. Companies like OMGServ, for example, will offer very cheap starter packages along with premium plans that cost quite a bit more. In addition to including more resources, premium plans also come with a lot more features, some of which I would consider absolutely essential. If you’re going with Shockbyte, there’s no need to worry about that because the company doesn’t hide any features behind a paywall. However, some providers do engage in that practice so make sure to carefully look into the package you’re planning to buy in order to make sure that it includes all the features you need.
The Downside of Free Services
Free services are always more appealing than paid ones, and it’s easy to see why. After all, if you can get something without paying, why not do it? Well, there are quite a few reasons why you may not want to choose a free service, some of which you’ve probably guessed already. The companies we decided to include on our list are some of the most popular and robust providers of free Minecraft server hosting on the market right now. Despite that, however, they don’t offer many key features and services to their users. Not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t.
Offering free hosting isn’t really viable unless you can get some sort of benefit in return. That’s why these types of companies force ads on their users in order to recoup the money they invest in their servers. Developing and maintaining advanced systems and features isn’t free either, which is why companies either don’t bother with them at all or only offer them to users who can pay for them.
In short, if you’re going with a free service you can expect to see plenty of ads as well as miss out on a pretty large number of important features. A few cons of free services we’ve already mentioned earlier include a low amount of resources, support for only a handful of players, and no instant setup, to name just a few. More often than not, there’s no technical support either for free users or if there is, paying customers will always have priority over everyone else.
The Best Choice for You
Now that you know more about the differences between paid and free Minecraft server hosting services, there’s one big question you may be asking yourself – which is the best choice for me? That depends on a number of factors, including, of course, your budget and willingness to pay for such a service. If you can’t afford to spend money on a Minecraft server or simply don’t want to, the choice is pretty simple. A free server can get the job done pretty well if all you want to do is play with a few buddies and aren’t bothered by the lack of features or poor technical support.
If, on the other hand, you’re a serious Minecraft player who wants to play the game for a living, it’s pretty much mandatory to go with a paid option. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways of earning money by playing video games but if you want to build a community around your server and attract a following, you better make sure that everything runs smooth as butter. Minecraft content is still successful on Twitch, YouTube and other platforms but no one wants to watch someone play on a server that runs poorly or is littered with ads. And certainly, no one wants to join such a server.
But even if you don’t plan on earning a living by playing Minecraft, spending a couple of bucks each month for a stable private server is still a worthwhile investment. Not only will you benefit from more resources and advanced features but you can also expect to have an easier time setting up your server with a paid service. And if you can’t manage it on your own, you can always ask for assistance from customer support agents, who are naturally always willing to give a helping hand to paying customers.
We’ve also taken our time to answer some of the most common questions when it comes to free Minecraft server hosting.
How Many People Can Play on a Free Server?
The exact number depends on the service but free servers generally support anywhere between 4 and 10 players. You can definitely bring some friends along if you’re playing on a free server, but just make sure that you don’t bring too many.
How Can Companies Afford to Offer Free Hosting Services?
There’s always a catch with free services. In the case of Minecraft servers, companies will almost always display advertisements in an effort to generate some revenue. It’s also not uncommon for companies to offer subpar free services only to later incentivize players to switch to a paid package.
Is Performance an Issue on Free Servers?
Not always but it definitely can be. Since companies only include a very limited amount of resources with their free services, you can expect performance issues to arise every now and again, especially when there are more than a couple of people playing at the same time. It’s also worth noting that free services don’t have good location coverage, which can cause major latency problems for players located in certain states or countries.
Is it Worth Going for a Paid Service Instead?
If you can afford it, yes, it’s always better to go with a paid service. Doing so will give you access to a more stable server and plenty of features and tools to work with. And since paid services are very cheap nowadays, you don’t have to break the bank in order to buy a Minecraft hosting plan.
It’s truly remarkable how Minecraft continues to be so popular almost 8 years after its release. And thanks to the fact that the game is constantly receiving new updates and improvements, we can expect the blocky sandbox to be around for many more years to come. Whether you’re a casual gamer or someone who wants to make a living by playing video games, Minecraft is definitely still a great title to pick up, especially since it’s so cheap.
Playing on a random server is not always a fun experience, which is why I recommend going with a private one instead. There aren’t too many companies out there that offer free Minecraft server hosting services but you can find a few decent ones if you know where to look. That said, you should also look into paid options like Shockbyte if you want to have a good time playing the game and not have to worry about annoying ads or performance issues.