A couple of years ago I wrote a basic set of instructions on creating a Minecraft server in Azure. I felt it was time to create a new set of instructions based on the new Azure portal. You need an Azure subscription to follow this tutorial, this could be a subscription you pay for, Azure benefits that are part of an MSDN subscription or even an Azure trial subscription which can be signed up for from http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/.
Once you have a subscription follow the steps outlined below:
Login to the new Azure portal at https://portal.azure.com. When you first login you will be at the Azure Startboard. Also notice the hub menu on the left hand side which enables access to various resources within Azure. At the bottom of the hub menu is a New button which enables all the different types of Azure service to be created.
Click the New button and under Browse select Compute which opens up the Compute blade with a list of images. Select the Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter image.
The Create VM blade will open which enables the configuration for the new VM to be selected. Notice in the Create VM blade there are some basic properties to be completed such as the name for the VM, a username and a password. Additionally there are options for the size of the VM, optional configurations and location. The hostname can be anything you wish, for example Minecraft. Enter a username, it cannot be Administrator as this is reserved but could use localadmin. Enter a complex password which needs to be at least 8 characters with a mix of three of the following; lowercase, uppercase, numbers and symbols.
Select the Pricing Tier part to open the pricing tier lens which enables the size of the VM to be selected. The A1 Basic is sufficient for basic testing however if you wanted to host more players the Standard A2 may be a better fit. Standard tier VMs have higher storage IOPS and network performance in addition to load balancing and scale capabilities (which we don’t use for our single instance Minecraft server). Notice there is a View all link to show all the available VM sizes. Select a VM size and click Select.
By default a new virtual network is created for the VM along with a new cloud service which owns a Virtual IP that is accessible from the Internet and a random name is selected for the cloud service DNS name. Select Optional Configuration – Network – Domain Name – Create new domain name and type in a name. The name must be unique across all of Azure. You could try Minecraft-<your name> and click OK. As you type the name it will be checked to ensure its unique. This name will be how you can connect to your server, <name>.cloudapp.net. Click OK to the Network blade. Notice by default a new Storage Account will be created to store the virtual hard disks for the new VM however you could change this if desired.
On the main Create VM blade select the Location part. This enables the Azure region to be selected where the new VM will be created. Notice there are Azure regions throughout the world so pick one closest to you (or your players!). Close the blade. By default a checkbox is selected “Add to Startboard” that would add the new VM to the Startboard of your subscription. Click Create to create the VM.
The VM will now be created and will take around 5 minutes to be fully provisioned and ready for use. By default the VM will have an OS disk that is 127 GB in size and a temporary disk, the D: drive. Never put any data you care about on the D: drive as this is not persistent and by default will only be used for the pagefile. The OS disk has read and write caching enabled. You can also add data disks which have configurable caching options including no caching which is what is needed for databases and other types of workload that need writes to be persisted directly to disk. We will add a data disk to our Minecraft server for our Minecraft binaries and data files. You will need to wait for the VM to be created before adding the data disk. Select the VM which will open the VMs build and under the Essential lens (a lens is a group of parts that share a common theme) select the All settings link which opens the Settings blade.
Select Disks in the Settings blade and select the Attach New action. By default the maximum size of 1023 GB for a disk is selected with caching disabled. Select the Storage Container part – Choose Storage Account and select the storage account that you used for the Minecraft server. For the Container select the default vhds container. Click OK to create the new data disk. You may wonder why 1023 GB since you have to pay for storage in Azure and your Minecraft world may only be 50 MB which means it would seem you are paying for a lot of wasted space. This is not the case as Azure actually uses sparse storage which means even though you are creating a 1023 GB VHD file in Azure Storage behind the scenes storage is only actually allocated for the data written which is what you pay for.
Your VM is now created and has a data disk added to it. The next step is to connect to the new VM. In the VMs blade select the Connect action. This will download an RDP file which can either be opened or saved to disk so the exact options such as display size etc can be changed. The RDP file is populated with the DNS name of the cloud service that contains the Minecraft VM and the port for the RDP endpoint for the specific VM.
You are now connected to your Azure VM. Open Explorer and you will see your OS C: drive and the temporary storage drive D: but the data disk we added is not shown because it has not yet been initialized or formatted. Open the Disk Management MMC snap-in (Start – Run – diskmgmt.msc). When the snap-in opens it will inform you of a new disk and offer to initialize. Click OK. Once the disk is online right click on the disk and select New Simple Volume. Except all the defaults. Notice on the Format Partition dialog enter a label for the Volume label such as Data and make sure “Perform a quick format” is selected. This is critical in Azure as remember that sparse storage? If you don’t perform a quick format every block of the disk will be written to which means you would then pay for the full 1023 GB size. Complete the dialogs to create the new data disk.
Navigate back to Explorer and the data disk will now be visible. Select the data disk and create a folder called Minecraft.
Open Internet Explorer and navigate to https://minecraft.net/download. In the Multiplayer Server area download the latest server binary and save to the Minecraft folder that you created on the data disk. I normally rename this download to minecraft_server.exe and remove the version number from the name. You also need to download and install Java. This can be downloaded from https://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp and select the 64-bit version. During the Java installation you likely want to unselect the options to install and set Ask as the default!
You are now ready to get Minecraft running. I recommend creating a batch file to launch the Minecraft server which will configure it to use more memory. I save the following to a file (minecraft.bat) and place in my Minecraft folder. This launches Minecraft server and set it to use 2 GB of memory:
“C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.8.0_45\bin\javaw.exe” -Xms2048m -Xmx2048m -jar “Minecraft_Server.exe”
Run the batch file. Once it has run open the eula.txt and change the false to true then rerun the minecraft.bat file which will now launch the Minecraft server service however it is not usable yet.
Minecraft clients communicate to the server on port 25565 which by default is blocked by the Windows Firewall. You need to create a firewall exception. Click Start and type firewall. This will find the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security application. Launch it. Select Inbound Rules and select the New Rule action. Select a type of Port in the New Inbound Rule Wizard and click Next. In the next page select TCP and type in port 25565 then click Next. Accept the defaults to Allow and for all types of profile and on the final page enter a name of Minecraft Server. Click Finish.
There is one final action. The VM created sits within a cloud service and the cloud service has the publically accessible IP address. Endpoints are created on that IP address which enable communications on specific ports to be forwarded to specific ports on VMs in the cloud service. You already used one of these endpoints when you RDP’d to the VM earlier, that is using an automatic endpoint that was created to enable RDP access to the VM from the Internet. We will add a new endpoint for the Minecraft port. Open the VMs blade in the Azure portal and select All settings. Select Endpoints where you will see the existing endpoints created. Click Add. Enter a name of Minecraft and set the public and private port to 25565 then click OK.
You are now ready to use your new Minecraft server. Launch the Minecraft client and select Multiplayer. Click Add Server and for the Server Address use your cloud server DNS name, e.g. minecraft-savill.cloudapp.net and click Done.
Select your new server and click Join Server.
As an optional step you probably want to make yourself an operator for your server. Add to the ops.json file. http://conoroneill.net/creating-a-valid-ops-file-in-json-format-for-minecraft-179 walks through this process and links to http://minecraft-techworld.com/uuid-lookup-tool to find your UUID for your account.
For more information on Azure check out my new book and free Windows application.