Free Minecraft SMP Server Hosting
When it comes to Minecraft, a game dedicated to putting blocks in some places and removing them in others, so much more can be achieved with multiple players. Many digital hands make for light work, and all that jazz.
SMP is Minecraft's multiplayer mode, in which multiple people play on a server. There are many amazing public multiplayer servers you can join and explore, but there are definitely advantages to running a private SMP server. You can choose who comes onto your server, which means that griefing is likely to be far less of a problem than on public servers. So where do these servers come from, and how can you run one?
The first option is to simply run a
server from home. You will need a fairly decent computer to do this
because of the strain a <Minecraft server puts on equipment. If you
only intend to have a handful of people playing on your Minecraft
server (say you and 2-4 friends) running a Minecraft server from home
is possibly the best and most inexpensive option you have.
I won't go into the ins and outs of setting up a home Minecraft server here, it's simple, yet also technical and somewhat outside the scope of this article. There are plenty of guides for setting up home SMP servers however, and I'll probably add my own at a later date.
In the meantime however, this Minecraft forum thread has a wealth of guides explaining how to set up a Minecraft server.
If you don't have the hardware to run a server from home, never fear. It is possible to obtain Minecraft servers elsewhere. If you're looking for a free server, Tree Puncher, a company that also offers paid Minecraft server options is currently offering free Minecraft server space. There are conditions though, for one there are only 2 slots available, which means you're not going to be having massive online Minecraft parties with everyone you know.
Secondly, they are apparently running a not quite complete implementation of Minecraft server software, which means there won't be any mobs, water doesn't flow, there are no reeds, cacti or pumpkins, and a few other niggling issues that are somewhat tiresome.
Still, if you want someone else to set up your Minecraft server for you and you're willing to potentially upgrade to their paid service at a later point, you may want to give Tree Puncher's services a go.