How to make a Minecraft server for free

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Minecraft

A lot of times when playing with friends, having a server where you can install custom plugins and can be online at different times than you come in handy, Minecraft servers however cost a price, as a machine need to be running with the server so players can connect.

This article will show how you can make a hosted Minecraft server using a website called Aternos, which will allow you to create a managed servers that support plugins, custom software, configurations, and more.

How to make a Minecraft server using Aternos

Making a server with Aternos is free and doesn't require a credit card, to make a server you simply need to register on their website and configure your server the way you want.

  • Create your free account at https://aternos.org/go/. You will notice that you aren't required to provide an email to create your account, but it is recommended, it is a way to recover your account in case you lose your password.
  • After creating your account, you will be redirected to the servers page, here, click on the button "Create a server"
  • On the next page, you can change your server IP, it is by default <your username>.aternos.me, change it to anything you want, this is what your friends will use to connect in Minecraft. You can also quickly change your server description here if you want, or choose Bedrock Edition if you don't play the Java Edition.
  • By clicking Create your server will now be created, if you are using an ad-blocker, it is recommended to disable it on the Aternos page, and if you use Mozilla Firefox, Brave, or any browser with privacy settings, disable it for the Aternos page as well, or you will be getting red screen messages everywhere.

Your server is created! You now can access the dashboard of your Aternos account, here you have access to all configurations related to your server, but don't be overwhelmed, to simply start your server just click on Start.

Aternos server dashboard showing Start button

You will notice that on peak times there will be a queue that you have to wait for your server to start, it is normal due to the server availability.

Changing configurations of your Minecraft server

On the left side of the screen, click on options, or access the page https://aternos.org/options/ directly. On this page you can change configurations related to your server, those are the same settings changed in the server.properties file, a file that holds server options.

Aternos server configuration page
  • Slots: The maximum amount of players your server can have, you may be tempted to rise this value a lot, but leaving it to a reasonable amount of players that you expect on your server is the best thing to do
  • Gamemode: The game mode for all players in the server, you can still change your own game mode in-game
  • Difficulty: Starting difficulty for the server world
  • Whitelist: This is very recommended if you know everyone who will play with you, list their names there so only you and your friends can join the server
  • Cracked: This is the online mode setting, it is named cracked because players who haven't bought Minecraft will be able to join your server with this option checked, it is not recommended to use unless you have a reason to
  • PVP: Allow players to damage each other on the game
  • Commandblocks: Those are in-game items that can run commands, you can do anything with these, the possibilities are endless, but if you don't plan to use it ever, just disable
  • Fly: Are creative players able to fly?
  • Animals: Should animals spawn? For a regular survival server just leave it on
  • Monster: Should hostile creatures spawn?
  • Villagers: Uncheck this if you want to disable villagers
  • Nether: Enable or disable the nether
  • ForceGamemode: Should all players be forced to stay in the default game mode? (specified by gamemode)
  • SpawnProtection: This will prevent players from build in the spawn, it is useful if you will play with people you don't know a lot, players can grief the spawn and make others spawn in lava or things like that. This value determines the square spawn protection area
  • Resource pack required: Do everyone must have the resource pack you specified?
  • Resource pack URL: A resource pack downloaded when users join the server

These are all options that you can change related to the server.properties file, besides this, at the top of the options page you can change your server IP and description, if you do not help with the one you choose on the server creation, be sure that when you change the IP, players will have to change the connection settings to be able to join the server, as usual, so let people playing in the server know the new IP.

The timezone for your server can also be changed on the options page, by default it should have the correct value related to your region.

Change Aternos server software, Bukkit, Forge, Spiggot, and more

After you create your Aternos server, you will notice that there is no option to add plugins, this is because you have to change your server software, the Vanilla Minecraft server is basic, it works well for regular gameplay, but for anything a little bit more advanced you will need a custom server software.

Fortunately, Aternos is very open to the amount of different software you can use, here you will have to decide if you want to add plugins to your server, mods, or plugins and mods.

To change the server software, click on Software on the left side of the dashboard, or directly access it here: https://aternos.org/software/

Aternos software options list

Custom software doesn't work for all editions, so there are ones you can pick for the Java Edition and the ones for Bedrock Edition. If you are playing on Bedrock Edition, go ahead and choose Pocketmine, it's the only custom software you can use.

For the Java Edition, if you need help to choose a custom software we recommend Paper/Bukkit if you want to install plugins and Forge if you want to install mods, other options can do both things, but it's best if you search them and learn more as these two are the easiest ones.

If you already have something in mind that involves mods, Aternos has a great Modpack option, by clicking on Modpack you're able to choose a website and install a complete modpack with a single click, neat!

For example, if you want to play with the RLCraft modpack, just click on Modpacks, Curseforge, press CTRL + F and search for RLCraft, click on it and install.

When you install software that supports plugins, for example, Paper/Bukkit, you will see that the Plugins menu options will appear on the left side of your dashboard, here you can install any plugin you want by searching the name.

How to install a custom plugin in Aternos

  • Make sure you are using software that supports plugins, for example, Paper/Bukkit
  • On the left sidebar of Aternos, click on Plugins
  • On the search bar of the plugins page, type the plugin you want to install, for example, EssentialsX
  • Click on the plugin you want to install from the results
  • Click on the install button on the right of the version of the plugin you want to install
  • Restart your server, the plugin should automatically be working, check the console to debug any error

If you don't find a popular plugin available in Aternos, you can ask for it to be added, for this just go to the Plugins page, and click "Suggest a plugin/mod", this doesn't happen a lot though, Aternos has an extensive list of available plugins.

How to allow friends to start and manage your Aternos server

A big issue about hosting a Minecraft server on your PC is that when you're not playing, your server will be turned off unless you leave your computer on all the time.

Aternos solves this problem, but due to being a free service, servers without activity will be shut down, and then your friends will need to ask you to start the server once again.

You can solve this problem by letting friends you trust have access to the server dashboard, to do this, on the left sidebar of your Aternos dashboard, click on Access, or directly access it here https://aternos.org/access/.

On this page, you can put your friend's Aternos username to allow them to manage the server, remember, you have to put their Aternos username, not their Minecraft username. Be sure to only add people you trust here, they have control over your server.

Saving backups of your Aternos server

It is great to make sure that your server is safe, and by safe I mean being able to restore it at any point, at least saving your world from time to time will make sure you and your friends won't lose any progress in case something happen.

To download your world from Aternos, click on Worlds on the left sidebar, press the "Files" button to the right of the world you wanna backup, click on the house home icon on the top left of the files page, and click on the download icon to the right of the "world" folder, this will download your world.

Something else you're able to do is to have regular backups, on the left sidebar there is a Backups page, here you can connect to your Google Drive account and it will receive the backups. Automatic backups are enabled by default and you're able to manually do a backup, useful when you're changing server configurations.

Wrapping it up

Aternos is a great way to quickly create a free managed Minecraft server so you don't have everything on your shoulders when making a server to play with your friends. Having a complete dashboard and a lot of freedom on what you're able to do with the server, can easily save you a lot of time.

If you have any doubts related to this article or something you'd like to suggest, contact us and we will do our best to keep it updated!

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