Avoid griefing like this. Activate your server white-list!

As Minecraft continues to storm through the world of gaming, education and everywhere else, one thing is for certain: everybody wants to create their own server!

I think that is a great thing.

I’ve run several servers since early 2011, through my GamingEdus project, and we’ve had young players go from casual players to admins of their own virtual world, learning a lot about computers and networks along the way.

For teachers, running your own Minecraft server mean opening a whole new world of play and learning to your students.

In the rush to be the ruler of their own world, many gamers and teachers forget to secure their Minecraft servers from unwanted visitors who could destroy (aka grief) your builds.

Fortunately, securing your Minecraft server is as easy as activating the server white-list and installing a server wrapper, like Craftbukkit. This post will show you how to do just that.

The White-list: Your very own virtual world bouncer

Open servers, where anyone can show up and build, are a lot of fun, but they’re not for everyone.

Smaller servers that focus on a particular niche of players (like our GamingEdus Minecraft server for teachers and their families), need some locks on the doors to keep things fun for everyone. Everyday, our server gets random login attempts from people’s avatars. They get blocked because their name is not on the list of approved players, aka the White list.

Busted by the White-list!

The White-list is the first line of defense for a server admin (that’s you, if you’re the one installing the server files).

Activating the white-list is like have your own personal bouncer standing at the doors to your virtual world.

Your Minecraft player name not on the white-list? You don’t get in. It’s that simple.

And it’s easy to set up. Here’s how you do it.

Activating your white-list:

1. Stop your server.

2. Open your server folder and find the “server.properties” file

3. Set the white-list variable to “true” and save.

4. In server folder, open white-list.txt file

5. Add your player name and the player name of other players you want to have access to the server, then save.

6. Restart server.

Your server now has a white-list!

To add other names to the list, just update the white-list.txt file (you might need to restart the server to have it take effect.)

(When you install the “Essentials” plugin (see below) you’ll be able to update the white-list while in game – much faster.)

Craftbukkit brings extra security

Craftbukkit is a “server wrapper” that basically organizes all the files for your server and allows you to easily add plugins to your server that let you and your players do amazing things (like lock your chests and doors and much more.)

Installing Craftbukkit is more complex and there is tons of stuff out there on the interwebs, so I’ll just direct you to some helpful links:

This wiki page runs you through installing Craftbukkit: http://wiki.bukkit.org/Setting_up_a_server

And here’s a helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5R7Gf9NKBo

Once craftbukkit is installed, you can add plugins to the world. We use many plugins on GamingEdus.

I wrote a post about the plugins every server should have: Five Essential Plugins for Minecraft School Servers.

Looking at that post now, I need to update it with some of the others I use to keep our servers secure. You’ll just have to wait for another post for those (sorry!)

In the meantime, with Craftbukkit running and your server white-listed, you can be confident that only people you know will have access to your server.

What do you think? What other tips would you give new server admins? What questions do you have about running a Minecraft server? Drop them in the comments below and I’ll see if I can help you out.

[This post originally apppeared on Feeding Change on Aug 5, 2013.]