Running a Minecraft Server can be a daunting task. You need to make a large number of decisions and have a deep understanding of many concepts. This guide acts as a portal to various other Minecraft server management resources and will be routinely updated. You'll find answers to questions, explanations of how to use various systems, as well as general advice on server administration. After reading this, you'll have everything you need to know how to run a Minecraft server.

Choosing Version, Software, and Plugins

The first step when making a server is making a few choices about what exactly you're creating.

Minecraft Edition

Minecraft is available in two separate editions, Java Edition and Bedrock Edition. While Bedrock Edition has more players, Java Edition is often a better choice for running a server. Check out this article for information on why and how to get the best of both worlds.

Minecraft Version

Many new server owners often ask on which Minecraft version they should run their server. While small portions of the community believe that specific old versions are better, this is not the majority opinion and is generally a bad idea to follow. This guide goes over why you should generally stay on the latest version.

Server Software

Almost every public Minecraft server is modded in some capacity. Most servers run server-side plugins using a system known as Bukkit. There are many different flavours of Bukkit-based servers available, however, such as Paper and Spigot. This guide can help you decide which flavour of Bukkit you should use.. There is also more beyond Paper, due to a large number of Paper forks. For more information on forks of Paper, check out this article. If, alternatively, you would like to run mods that add new blocks, items, or mobs to the game, you'll want to use something like Fabric or Minecraft Forge. Do be aware that doing this will require players who use your server to have these mods installed on their clients. Check out this guide for help in deciding between Forge and Fabric.

Plugins

If you've decided to use a Bukkit-based server, you'll notice just how many plugins are available. The main places to find plugins are either BukkitDev or Spigot Resources. If you're looking for general advice on what plugins you should get, check out this top 10 list of most useful plugins for the average Minecraft server. If you're looking on Spigot resources, you may notice that some plugins have a price tag. It's worth noting that paid plugins are not necessarily better than free ones and are often worse. This article covers the details of why..

Some plugins offer a selection of features, such as EssentialsX or CraftBook, while others provide a single feature. There are some disagreements throughout various parts of the server owner community about which you should use. This article discusses how to make the best choice around using large plugins with many features or multiple small plugins.

When configuring plugins, often, you'll have the option of using MySQL. Check out this guide on how to make the best decision regarding data storage.

What about data packs?

You'll also likely hear about data packs. These are an in-built feature of Minecraft that can act similar to plugins but are less powerful. Despite being less powerful, they are better than plugins for some tasks. Check out this guide for more information on when to use plugins or data packs.

How to Solve Issues

Performance

If you're having performance issues, the first thing you should always do is make sure you're using Aikar's optimised Java flags. Aikar frequently updates this guide to ensure that the flags are up to date for modern Minecraft servers and provide the best performance.

Celebrimbor on the Spigot forums has created a guide on optimising Minecraft servers and provides a thorough look at many of the various configuration options that both Paper and Spigot provide. Check out his guide here.

If you're still having performance issues, this guide goes over how to properly use the Timings system built into Paper and Spigot to identify the source of the problem.

Quite often, when encountering performance problems, server owners might add plugins that claim to reduce lag. These plugins are almost always a bad idea and generally produce more lag than they relieve. A recent form of plugin that's popped up is mob stacker plugins. You should not use these plugins, and this article explains why.

Plugin Issues

Issues on your Minecraft server that you can't find the cause of are often frustrating. There are a few techniques that can help you find the reason that this guide covers.

Once you've identified the cause of the issue, you should reach out to the plugin developers. Asking in a generalised support forum or chat room is often slower and won't provide accurate answers. Most server plugins have support Discords that will happily field your questions and problems. Check out this guide on how to best ask for support from open-source software projects.

Host Issues

There are some common issues that many server hosts face. Check out this article on a few of them, and how to fix them.

General Advice for Server Admins

Do not /reload

If you're running a Bukkit-based server, you may have noticed the /reload command or other plugins that claim to reload plugins. On a production server, you should never do this. This article explains why. If you encounter an issue and you've used /reload or similar, always restart the server to see if the issue still occurs. In general, always restart the server instead of using reload commands.

Importing builds

If you're downloading Minecraft builds to add to your server or have hired a build team, you've likely seen files that end in .schem or .schematic. These are schematic files and are loaded using the mod and plugin WorldEdit. Check out this guide on how to work with these files.

Security

If your server is public, security should be one of your highest priorities. MrDienns of Dyescape has written a fantastic guide on how servers get hacked and how to protect yourself. Check it out here.

Keep up to date

If you're operating a larger Minecraft network, keeping up to date with the download links for projects such as Paper, Velocity, Waterfall, Geyser, and Floodgate can be a hassle. You can bookmark link aggregator sites such as this one to access download links for all of these projects from a single page.

Future

This article will be updated to include new guides as they are requested and links to other high-quality external resources. If you have a request for something you'd like me to write about or have a link to a high-quality resource you feel should be included, let me know.

Curious about the Minecraft server community's history and how it became what it is today? Check out this community project that covers the entire first decade of the Minecraft multiplayer community.

Want to help me write more posts like this? Check out my Patreon!