For Minecraft players looking to play multiplayer games, there are two main options: Minecraft Realms and third-party server hosting services.
Both allow you to create servers to play Minecraft with friends, but there are some key differences. This article will compare Realms and server hosting to help you decide which is better for your needs.
Minecraft Realms are official multiplayer servers provided directly by Mojang/Microsoft. They offer an easy setup process and simplified management. Server hosting services give you more control and customization options by letting you rent a server from a hosting provider.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ll compare factors like:
- Setup and management
- Mod support
- Player limits
Whether you want a simple and straightforward option or maximum control and flexibility, this guide will outline the pros and cons so you can pick the best multiplayer platform.
Minecraft Realms vs Server Hosting: Setup and Management
Setting up and managing a Realm is much easier than a third-party server.
- Realms can be created directly within Minecraft. Just open the Realms menu, give your server a name, and click “Create”.
- No technical knowledge required. Realms handle all the server management and configuration behind the scenes.
- Easy player access. Friends can join from within Minecraft by accepting your invite. No IP address required.
- World upload. Upload a world from your singleplayer game or create a fresh one.
- Automated backups. Realms are backed up periodically so you can restore to a previous state.
- Manage from within Minecraft or via the Realms website. Toggle between game modes, invite/ban players, reset world, download backup, etc.
Third-Party Server Hosting
- Must manually setup a server. Requires finding a host, purchasing a plan, and configuring settings.
- Requires technical knowledge. Must know how to operate command line tools, edit config files, install mods/plugins, and administer a Linux system.
- Players connect via IP address. Friends must input the server IP each time they want to connect.
- Full control over world and files. Upload your own world or start fresh. Configure data packs, resource packs, and options.
- Manual backups. You’re responsible for backing up your world and data yourself.
- Web-based control panel. Manage most server settings from the host’s control panel without having to SSH in.
|Setup Difficulty||Easy, just create within Minecraft||Hard, requires purchasing server, configuring settings|
|Management Difficulty||Easy, automatic||Hard, must administer server yourself|
|Technical Expertise Needed||None||High, need command line, file editing, Linux skills|
So Realms is far simpler to setup and use, while third-party hosts offer more advanced management and control. Pick the option that best fits your needs and technical abilities.
Minecraft Realms vs Server Hosting: Performance
When it comes to server performance and reliability, third-party hosts generally outperform Realms.
- Limited to players in North America and Europe. Those in other regions may experience lag.
- Max 10 simultaneous players. Performance can suffer as the player count nears the limit.
- Limited server resources. Realms are not dedicated servers and don’t give you control over RAM or CPU.
- Limited mod support. Too many gameplay mods can overload the server and cause lag.
- Occasional downtime. Realms are taken offline periodically for maintenance.
- Global server locations. Pick a hosting server closest to you and your players to minimize latency.
- Higher player counts. Plans scale up to hundreds of concurrent players smoothly.
- Powerful dedicated servers. Options for more RAM, CPU cores, SSD storage based on your needs.
- Full mod support. Servers can handle extensive modpacks without performance issues.
- Reliable uptime. Providers offer uptime SLAs along with DDoS protection.
|Hardware||Shared, limited resources||Dedicated, configurable resources|
|Global Server Locations||Limited to North America and Europe||Worldwide choices|
|Mod Support||Light mods only||Extensive modpacks supported|
|Uptime||Occasional maintenance downtime||High uptime guarantees with DDoS protection|
So third-party hosts are better for performance, supporting more players, mods, and reliable uptime. But Realms work fine for smaller groups with light mods.
Minecraft Realms vs Server Hosting: Customization
Third-party Minecraft hosts allow for much more customization and configurations compared to Realms.
- Preset game modes only. Survival, Creative, Adventure, Spectator modes available.
- Limited world options. Normal world type only. Can’t customize world generation.
- No access to server files. Can’t install plugins, mods, or custom packs.
- No commands. No console access to manage users or server with commands.
- No customization. Stuck with default server configs provided by Mojang.
- Custom game modes and plugins. Install Spigot/Bukkit plugins to create mini-games and custom modes.
- Extensive world customization. Choose world type and generate with custom options and mods like Biomes O’ Plenty.
- Full file access via FTP/SFTP. Add any plugins, modpacks, or other files to your server.
- Console and command access. Use commands to control every aspect of server and customize with datapacks.
- Config file editing. Tweak every server configuration option like spawn rates, game difficulty, etc.
|Game Modes||Default only||Fully customizable with plugins|
|World Generation||Normal||Custom world types, mods, generation settings|
|Plugins/Mods||None allowed||Install any plugins/mods you want|
|Commands||No console access||Full console and commands for managing users, settings, etc|
|Configs||Locked down||Edit every config option manually|
So third-party hosting is far more customizable with mods, plugins, commands, and configuration access. Realms just offer basic default Minecraft.
Minecraft Realms vs Server Hosting: Mod Support
Realms have little to no mod support, while third-party hosts enable you to install even extensive modpacks.
- No client-side mods allowed. Players can’t use mods like OptiFine, minimaps, etc.
- No server mods/plugins permitted. You’re unable to install Bukkit/Spigot, Forge, or Fabric.
- Can’t upload custom JARs or modpacks. Stuck with vanilla Minecraft.
- Heavy mods overload the server. Even light gameplay mods can cause performance issues.
- Mods could break Realms TOS. Custom content may be disallowed or get your Realm banned.
- Client-side mods welcome. Players can use UI mods, minimaps, OptiFine, shaders, and more.
- Install server mods easily. Drag and drop Forge, Fabric, Bukkit, Spigot, or Paper JAR files to enable mods.
- Upload custom modpacks. Add modpack ZIP files or manually install individual mods.
- Servers tailored for mods. Plans with sufficient RAM and CPU to smoothly run heavy modpacks like Feed The Beast.
- No restrictions on mods. Host won’t limit you, as long as you follow their ToS.
|Client-Side Mods||Not allowed||Allowed|
|Server Mods||Not allowed||Forge, Fabric, Bukkit, Spigot supported|
|Custom Modpacks||Can’t install||Upload any modpack ZIP|
|Mod Performance||Poor||Powerful hardware for heavy mods|
|Mod Restrictions||Can break Realms ToS||No limitations other than host’s ToS|
So Realms don’t allow mods, while third-party hosts give you flexibility to install even extensive modpacks.
Minecraft Realms vs Server Hosting: Pricing
Realms are generally more expensive than third-party server hosting plans.
- $7.99/month for 1 player included. $2.99 for each additional player slot up to max of 10 players.
- No cheaper options for fewer players or shorter duration. Must pay minimum $7.99 even if you want a smaller server.
- No monthly or yearly discounts. Same flat rate regardless of subscription length.
Third-Party Hosting Pricing
- Plans start around $5/month. Entry-level plans better suited for solo or small groups of 2-8 players.
- Price scales based on resources. Want more RAM, storage, cores? Upgrade to a higher tier plan.
- Discounts for 3, 6, 12 month terms. Longer pre-paid subscriptions can save you 10-20%.
- Promotions and sales. Providers frequently discount plans or offer periodic sales.
|Base Solo Plan Price||$7.99/month||~$5/month entry plans|
|Scales By||Player slots: $2.99 each up to 10 max||Server resources (RAM, cores, storage)|
|Duration Discounts||None||10-20% cheaper for 3, 6, 12 month terms|
|Regular Discounts/Sales||None||Frequent promotions, sales, coupons from providers|
So in summary, Realms can cost more compared to equivalent third-party plans for fewer players or shorter durations.
Minecraft Realms vs Server Hosting: Player Limits
Realms currently only support up to 10 players online simultaneously.
Third-party hosts offer plans scaling up to hundreds of players.
Realms Player Limits
- Max of 10 players online concurrently.
- 1 player included, up to 9 additional slots for $2.99 per month each.
- Cannot be expanded beyond 10 players total.
- 10 players is often sufficient for small private servers.
- Performance may suffer as player count approaches max.
Third-Party Player Limits
- Entry plans start around 5-20 slots.
- Mid-range plans support 50-100 concurrent users.
- High-end plans can handle 200+ players at once.
- Options tailored for minigames and popular servers.
- More expensive but can handle much bigger communities.
- Scales smoothly thanks to dedicated resources.
|Base Concurrent Players||10 max||~5-20 on entry plans|
|Maximum Players||Limited to 10||Scales up to 200+|
|Performance at Max||Can suffer with 10 players||Smooth even at max players thanks to dedicated server resources|
|Large Community Support||Not sufficient||Mid to high-tier plans suited for bigger servers|
So in summary:
- Realms only support up to 10 concurrent players. This is fine for small private servers.
- Third-party hosts offer plans that can handle over 200 players simultaneously, better for large public communities.
- Performance stays consistent on third-party hosts even with 100+ players thanks to dedicated server resources.
- Realms are easier to setup and use, great for newer users who want a simpler experience. But they offer limited customization, mods, and player slots.
- Third-party server hosting provides more advanced options and control, at the cost of more complexity. But enables extensive customization and mods.
- Performance and reliability is generally better with third-party hosting thanks to dedicated hardware and worldwide server locations.
- Realms tend to be more expensive for smaller groups or shorter durations. Third-party plans can offer better value.
- Decide based on your needs: Realms for simplicity and convenience or third-party for maximum control and customization.