The short answer is yes – you can host a free 24/7 Minecraft server! However, there are some limitations to be aware of compared to paid hosting. In this detailed guide, I‘ll cover your best options for hosting a free Minecraft server non-stop so you can play with friends anytime.
As a long-time tech geek and Minecraft enthusiast, I‘ve tested all the top free and paid server hosts extensively. Whether you want to play Survival, Creative, Minigames or Modpacks with a small group or large public community, I‘ll help you find the best free or affordable server hosting for your needs.
Overview of free server hosting limitations
Let‘s start with a high-level view of the trade-offs between free and paid Minecraft server hosting:
|Free server hosting
|Paid server hosting
|– Less resources/slots
|– Unlimited resources/slots
|– Server hibernates when empty
|– 24/7 uptime guarantee
|– Limited support
|– Great customer support
|– Fewer customizations
|– Full control & mods
The key advantage of paid hosting is reliability – resources are guaranteed 24/7 so players can join anytime. But free options work for smaller groups on a budget.
Top free Minecraft server hosts
Aternos is the most popular free Minecraft server host, supporting both Java and Bedrock editions. With Aternos, you can get a free server up in just a few clicks. However, there are some catches:
- Limited to 10 players online – For stability, free servers max out at 10 slots.
45 days of inactivity protection – Data will be deleted if unused that long.
Server hibernates when empty – Latency when first player joins until fully online.
Overall, Aternos is great for jumping into a free server quickly with friends. But you sacrifice flexibility and some uptime compared to paid hosts.
Minehut offers another popular way to host a free Minecraft server. They focus solely on Java edition.
Some key facts about their free plan:
- getMaxPlayers set to 20 slots – But limited to 13 online at once.
No hibernation – Stays online 24/7.
Limited RAM/CPU – Only 1GB and 1 core allocated.
For groups under 15 players, Minehut is a solid free option. You have to watch the limited resources, but get the benefit of constant uptime.
If you have an extra PC and tech know-how, self-hosting a Java server is 100% free. You‘ll need:
- A PC to act as the server – This will need to stay on 24/7, so an older system works well.
Port forwarding setup on your router – To allow others to connect publicly to your server.
Java and Minecraft Server software installed – I recommend PaperMC, which is easy to configure.
Static IP address – So players can always connect to the same address.
Self-hosting avoids limitations of free plans, but takes more effort to setup and maintain. Be sure your network and PC can handle the demands 24/7.
Realms free trial
For new users, Minecraft Realms offers a free 30-day trial of a personal Realms server supporting up to 10 players. Features include:
- Easy one-click setup and management from inside Minecraft.
Server stays online 24/7 with no hibernation.
Smooth automatic updating to latest official version.
Available for both Java and Bedrock editions.
After 30 days, Realms requires a paid subscription starting at $3.99 per month for up to 10 players. Definitely take advantage of the free trial if you haven‘t used Realms before.
Paid Minecraft server hosting
Once you‘re ready to upgrade beyond the limits of free plans, paid Minecraft server hosting unlocks more resources, flexibility and reliability. Here are top hosting providers I recommend:
SparkedHost is one of the most popular Minecraft hosts because of their excellent performance and customer support. Plans start at $5 per month and include:
- Unlimited Slots – No restrictions on players.
24/7 Uptime – Guaranteed constant server access.
DDoS Protection – Filters out malicious traffic.
Easy Setup & Management – Intuitive control panel.
With prices as low as $5/month, SparkedHost balances affordability and quality for smaller servers.
For budget-focused hosting, GGServers has basic Minecraft plans starting at just $5 per month. They offer:
- Free Subdomain – Get a custom address like server.ggservers.com.
99.9% Uptime – Excellent reliability.
DDoS Protection – Mitigates attacks for stability.
NVMe SSD Storage – Very fast disk speeds.
GGServers delivers great uptime and performance at the lowest prices. Support is somewhat limited compared to pricier competitors.
Known for their ultra-reliable hosting, HostHavoc plans start at $2.50 per month. Top features include:
- 99.99% Uptime – Almost no downtime each month.
1Gbps Network – Fast network connections.
ModPack Installer – Quickly install modpacks.
24/7/365 Support – Constant access to help.
With rock-solid stability and performance, HostHavoc is ideal for popular public servers. Their premium plans scale up for massive communities.
Nodecraft focuses on high performance Minecraft hosting powered by premium hardware. Plans start at $5 per month with:
- Ryzen or Intel CPUs – More power for mods.
NVMe SSD Drives – Blazing fast load times.
Unmetered NVMe – Unlimited, fast storage.
DDoS Protection – Blocks attacks quickly.
If raw speed and computing power are your priorities, Nodecraft is a top choice to run mods and minigames flawlessly.
How much RAM and storage is needed?
Choosing the right amount of RAM and storage is crucial for a smooth Minecraft server. Here are some general guidelines:
For minigames and massive modpacks, double the RAM to 16GB+ to avoid lag. Most paid hosts offer affordable scaling of RAM and storage as your needs grow.
Making a public free Minecraft server
Opening your server to the public for anyone to join for free simply requires giving out your IP and port. Here‘s how:
First, you need to configure port forwarding on your home router to direct incoming Minecraft traffic from ports 25565 (and 19132 for Bedrock) to your server.
Since home IPs change frequently, use a dynamic DNS service like No-IP to map a static hostname like mymcserver.ddns.net to your public IP.
Share connection details
Give out your server‘s hostname or IP and port 25565 to anyone you want to allow access. Optionally submit your server to listing sites.
With these steps, you can make any home hosted or free online server public for others to join. The same steps work well for Realms and paid hosts too.
Can you make money from a free Minecraft server?
Running a free public Minecraft server has real costs in hosting fees, development time, and administrative work. Luckily, there are several smart ways to bring in revenue as a free server:
Allowing players to donate to help fund the server is common. Make sure donations don‘t impact gameplay to avoid "pay to win." Offer donators minor perks like name tags, particle effects or recognition.
Sell special cosmetic gear, name tags, pets, particle effects and other visual upgrades users can show off for real money. Keep these to non-gameplay changes so it‘s not unfair.
Have an in-game shop where players can buy coins, tokens or favorable exchange rates to acquire items, claims, land etc. Make the grinding required reasonable.
Fans of popular servers will happily buy shirts, hats and other real-world merchandise supporting their favorite community. Just don‘t violate any trademarks.
With fair monetization that enhances but doesn‘t disrupt gameplay, even free servers can become self-sustaining businesses.
Key takeaways on free Minecraft server hosting
While limited, free server hosting from Aternos, Minehut or self-hosting works for small private servers. For public servers, paid options like SparkedHost provide guaranteed resources, MOD support, and better uptime. To open any server to the public, port forward your network and utilize dynamic DNS. Finally, donations, cosmetics, currencies and merch can help fund free servers.
I hope this detailed guide helps you decide on the best free or affordable Minecraft server hosting option for your needs! Let me know if you have any other questions.