There are a lot of questions that new Minecraft Server Owners will have when setting up their worlds, so we’re going to try and tackle some of them little by little.
Today, we’re looking at a question that pops up before you even get to installing and setting up the server software, getting players, advertising, and creating a fun game for you and your community.
Do I Need A Dedicated IP Address?
First off, let’s look at the basics. Every computer in the world has an IP Address. Sometimes, those IP Addresses are shared amongst a group of files or programs, like your home computer which hosts a number of files, or your home wifi network which might be home to a multiple computers or mobile devices. Websites also have IP Addresses, which is what domain names (like snapshotmc.com) point to when looking for the files to display a web page.
The same goes for Minecraft Servers, which you likely already know if you’ve played on a multiplayer server before and had to type in an IP Address. Every Minecraft Server has an IP Address that you type into your client under the “Server Address” field, which tells the Minecraft client on your computer where to look for server files.
What Is A Port?
A Minecraft Server Address generally comes in two parts: The actual IP Address and the Port. The Port is what you see after the colon “:”, and is usually 25565 by default, but could be any range of numbers.
The Port tells your client specifically where, on a server, it is allowed to look for files to connect you to a specific Minecraft game. A server (which is just a computer with a lot of memory, storage, hardware, and a good internet connection) can host MANY different Minecraft Servers on it, and each Port is assigned to a different Minecraft Server. This allows one physical machine with one IP Address to be the home for two different Minecraft Servers at the same time without software conflicting between the two.
That is how shared Minecraft Server hosts operate. You and dozens of other Server Owners share one single machine with one IP Address split amongst you, but with unique Ports that your Servers are assigned. If you were to change the Port but keep the IP Address, you may very well be able to connect to another Minecraft Server and join other players you’ve never met before in the game.
Can you see where on problem might lie with shared hosting? When you use a shared hosting service, you don’t just share resources, but you also share the IP Address that people around the world can find and connect to with relative ease. This is one reason why people often consider getting a Dedicated IP Address for their shared hosting service.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) and Dedicated hosting services both already give you dedicated IP Addresses that ONLY your server will be assigned to. If you have either a VPS or Dedicated Server, then you already have a dedicated IP Address and don’t need to buy a new one.
NOTE: Dedicated Hosting is NOT the same as having a Dedicated IP Address. You do not need to have a Dedicated Hosting service in order to get a Dedicated IP Address.
Pros and Cons of getting a Dedicated IP Address
I was talking with the owner of Nodehost.ca (the web host for this website – that’s an affiliate link, btw), Anthony Rossbach, and asked if he had any comments about why a person might want a dedicated IP Address. He had this to say:
“Using a dedicated IP vs a shared environment has a few impacts on both security and looking professional. There is more to it than just using the default MC port, as shared environments are larger and can take more abuse (if by a trusted vendor).”
He went on to describe various pros and cons of getting a dedicated IP, and here’s a quick breakdown of points you might consider.
🌞 -You can easily point a unique domain name to the IP Address so your players have something to easily remember when sharing/connecting
⛵ -You can usually transfer an IP address to a new machine if you outgrow your existing one, reducing confusing for your players when they try to connect again
👔 -Your server looks more professional since no one can assume you’re using a cheap hosting service
🔒 -You can increase security using various methods directly associated with that IP Address
☔ -You aren’t affected if another IP Address on the same machine goes down or is disabled for whatever reason
💸 -Dedicated IP Addresses cost money
⛔ -Some shared hosting providers don’t offer dedicated IPs
⚔️ –You are responsible for attacks against your unique IP Address
So… what’s the answer?
At the end of the day, it really depends on what your intentions are for your Minecraft Server. Is this a simple testing environment that you don’t plan on going public with? Is this a temporary server for a one-time event? Is it a private server for you and a few casual gamer friends to hop on once a week or less? Do you want to increase security measures and take more control of your Server?
Depending on how you are setting up your Server, you may decide that getting a dedicated IP Address is a good idea, but that’s not always the case. Of the 7 Minecraft Servers that I own, only 3 of them have dedicated IPs. With the other four I am happy to use the shared IP Address with unique Port because the server is either just for testing, is private for myself and a few others, or is a server that I just don’t care much about spending much money on.
Whatever your decision, and whatever your reason for that decision, you should weigh your options and make sure you are educated on the subject before taking the dive.