There are many services on the internet that allow you to host a game server outside of your home. While these are usually fast to set up and easy to use they frequently come with a monthly cost. For many game servers, it is possible to host the server-side software yourself, and you can even host it from your house making the total cost of ownership free. Most ISPs have no problem with you hosting a game server at your house as long as the bandwidth doesn't get too big, which for most game servers is not an issue.
One of the great things about hosting your own game server is that you get to be in charge of the rules and you get to kick or ban whichever players break them at your discretion. Of course, this means that your game server is susceptible to hackers, script kiddies, and other bad actors.
Before you expose your game server to the internet you should:
- try just running it on your home network for a while just to get a feel for how the game server is configured.
- Create a variety of accounts with different privilege levels and make sure you understand what each of those accounts can and cannot do.
- Follow instructions online on how to harden your server before you attempt to allow others to connect to it.
When you host a game server at your house, you have to be on top of what is happening on that game server to keep it running smoothly and keep it fair for all of your users.
To see an example of networking tasks related to setting up a game server, visit our popular guide for Port Forwarding and Hosting a Minecraft Server.
Why Use Port Forwarding for Your Game Server
If you are going to host a game server, players will need to connect to you. Your router acts as a barrier for incoming internet traffic which prevents your friends from connecting to your game server. A port forward in your router will fix this issue by directing traffic from a game client to your game server.
You can host a game server without a port forward, it just means you can only connect to the game server from inside your house. This is great if all you want to do is host it for your family, dorm, or other small closed networks. If you want to connect to the game server from outside your house or have friends that don't live with you connect to your game server then you need to set up a port forward pointing at your game server.
Make sure that you are forwarding ports to the game server and not the game. If you are hosting the game server in a docker, then forward the ports to the docker host. If you are hosting the game server on a PC, then forward the ports to that PC.
For more information about port forwarding visit our Ultimate Guide to Forwarding Ports in Your Router.
Port Forwarding Guides for Your Game Server
If you are setting up a game server you will need to create a port forward in your router to your game server so that other players can connect to your server. The following guides show you how to set up port forwarding in your router for your game server. Start by selecting your game server from the list.