We’re using the Zombie tier package from BeastNode for the purposes of this review which grants us a dedicated IP, 42 slots to play with and 1536MB of RAM. All of the Minecraft server packages are appropriately named using creatures from Minecraft. Everything above the Zombie tier package is exactly the same in terms of functionality though higher in capacity, RAM and slots which allows for more players. They range right up to the Ghast package with a dedicated IP, 88 player slots and 4906MB of RAM for $69.95 per month. The tiers below Zombie don’t have quite as many features, the lowest being the Chicken package with 6 player slots, 256MB of RAM and without a dedicated IP for $5.49 per month. All tier packages offer access via FTP.
After choosing which tier package you want, you then choose which location server you want so you can choose the one nearest to you to minimise latency. Then you choose your payment frequency and username along with how many player slots you want the server to have. Now you checkout and fill in the standard name, address, password and email address form, pay via PayPal or eCheque and await your server to be setup. If you pay via PayPal then server setup is instant, though if you pay via eCheque then setup can take between three to five days. Next you will receive a welcome email, an invoice and an order confirmation followed by account details.
Being able to choose your geographic location is great, it allows customers the chance to reduce latency even a tiny bit more to make it even better for their users. Previous Magazine is based in the United Kingdom and I’m using a server in Orlando, Florida without any latency, we’ve got record low ping too. The choice of this geographic location was due to the majority of our Minecraft users being near Florida.
Should the need arise, you can also transfer your server at any time providing they have an available server in the geographic location you desire. This means that if the majority of your audience start coming from another country then you can attempt to optimise the experience a little more for them. Your IP address will change when you do this, but that won’t be an issue if you are using a domain name with your server which I highly recommend if only for the convenience of users joining your server. If you are renting a Minecraft server, do yourself a favour and spend an extra few dollars buying a domain name for it. I utilised a sub-domain for my Minecraft server by adding an A record of minecraft.splitanatom.com to point at the IP 126.96.36.199 so instead of having to remember the IP when giving it to people in person, I can simply tell individuals what it is with an easy to remember domain.
The BeastNode servers run SSDs which operate at ~50,000 IOPS which means that even if you have 11,000 blocks of TNT exploding within the space of a couple of seconds (Thanks to WorldEdit), like I recently did, the server won’t crash, it will barely even stutter. An issue with a lot of Minecraft server providers is that they have a tendency to crash when anything intensive like that happens, that isn’t the case with BeastNode.
Hosting of any description, including Minecraft, has been oversold in recent years, but BeastNode are bucking this trend by not overselling their services so that they can make sure that you are receiving the highest quality service possible. BeastNode’s servers are also each dedicated to a specific service or game. Each server is fitted with a Gigabit port and use it to connect to the Internet. BeastNode only use the very best Internet service providers; this paired with their dual Intel Xeon 5620 processor, 24GB of Random Access Memory and Solid State Drives make for a speedy and reliable service. The restarts are also very speedy due to the SSDs, they only take 5-10 seconds!
As you may know, Minecraft 1.2 was released several days ago (that means ocelots!), within a few hours of Minecraft 1.2 being released, BeastNode was ready for us to make the transition from 1.1 to 1.2 with the click of a button. The upgrade to 1.2 is completely optional which is great as not all plugins work on 1.2 yet, for the purposes of our review we upgraded and had no issues whatsoever with it, in fact the whole process was done within a few seconds after clicking the button to upgrade.
Freebies With BeastNode
When you rent a server from BeastNode then you are entitled to some complimentary services such as Mumble and Buycraft. Buycraft allows the server owner to sell ranks in Minecraft using real currency via PayPal. This is how Minecraft servers tend to pay for themselves with donations.
Mumble is an open source Voice over IP (VoIP) application which gamers often use to talk to each other while in a video game as it is low-latency and real-time which is great as it won’t impact your game with unnecssarily resource intensive uploads, downloads or CPU usage. It is similar to programs such as Ventrilo and TeamSpeak, yet more secure and faster than both of them whilst offering higher quality audio due to the utilisation of the CELT and Speex codecs which also acts as echo cancellation, the personal bane of every gamer.
I pointed an A record prefix of ‘mumble’ on our splitanatom.com domain at the IP of our Mumble server so now it can be accessed via mumble.splitanatom.com utilising a Mumble client which is now available on iOS.
Interestingly enough there is a plugin to enable positional audio within Minecraft which means that you can hear people within x vicinity of you if you don’t want the audio chat to be chaos when you start getting a lot of traffic to your server, this means that the people who need to hear what you are saying will hear you.
To help your community get started, BeastNode offers free web hosting with a cPanel interface when you purchase a server; It is easy to use thanks to the user friendly GUI. The free web hosting has 1GB of storage. When your site grows, BeastNode also offer bigger web hosting packages, from the ‘Mini Beast’ package with 2GB of storage and 12GB of bandwidth for $2.95 per month, up to the ‘Ultra Beast’ package with 20GB of storage and 50GB of bandwidth for $9.95 per month. The prices are extremely reasonable.. You don’t even need to rent a Minecraft server from BeastNode in order to subscribe to their web hosting service.
Most shared web hosting providers will notallow you to access port 25565 for Minequery, a plugin that runs within CraftBukkit and informs users whether your Minecraft server is online or offline. This can be combated by using BeastNode’s courtesy hosting. If you already have a website then you can embed this data via an iFrame or write an API to fetch this data.
BeastNode does not impose any restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your Minecraft server, their service is as good as actually owning the server yourself for Minecraft usage. BeastNode Minecraft servers support the CraftBukkit server mod. It allows for extreme customizability without the bloating and performance issues that other plugins that do a similar thing have. You can write plugins for CraftBukkit yourself or you can browse the pages of appropriately categorised plugins. What ever type of Minecraft server you run, CraftBukkit is essential unless you plan on running a vanilla server or if you don’t plan on having any plugins.
Each BeastNode server gives you 5GB of SSD space to utilise for your Minecraft plugins and worlds. This may not sound like much, but this is actually excess to requirement in terms of Minecraft and I would love to hear if anybody has ever managed to exceed even 2GB.
The web interface for your BeastNode servers is GameCP, a premium game and voice control panel, this is a huge step up from the freeware open source control panels floating around the Internet and is stable and free of bugs unlike its open source counterparts. GameCP is very easy to use due to the friendly graphical user interface. Not being forced to open up your FTP client to edit server. Properties every time you want to make a change is really nice, GameCP allows you to restart the server as you save your new configuration too.
All of the Minecraft hosting packages right from the Chicken package to the Ghast package have a game control panel in the form of GameCP. From the GameCP you can restart your Minecraft server, view and use the console and stop your server. From within the console you can enter commands, although simple this is a great feature; This means that you can ban a pesky griefer even when you are away from your computer using your iPad.
If you already have a Minecraft server and are interested in making the transition to BeastNode, all you have to do is download your files from your current provider or your own server via FTP, upload them to BeastNode via FTP and then simply edit your server.properties file via GameCP by filling in the level-name with the name of the folder that your world is in.
As well as moderating Minecraft servers, you can also moderate your Mumble server direct from the GameCP interface which is very convenient to have it all in one place. This means that you don’t need to connect via FTP to your Minecraft or Mumble server in order to moderate them.
BeastNode offer MySQL support too which means that you can run the most complex plugins available for Minecraft without any difficulty whatsoever. Plugins such as LogBlock and Permissions work flawlessly with the SQL server that BeastNode provides, each query is instant even though the query to the database isn’t localhost and is actually to another IP address.
The BeastNode customer support is extremely friendly and polite, they have always gotten back to me within a few minutes if I have any questions. BeastNode offer support through a variety of mediums; Live chat, IRC and a forum, but my preferred method of support that they offer is handled via a support ticket system which works very well and you can respond to the tickets via email to save you the trip to the web interface for the ticket. Their customer support is also 24/7 which is great if you’re not in their timezone like me. Setting up Mumble, SQL and cPanel was taken care of by submitting a support ticket to BeastNode to get them enabled.
BeastNode pride themselves on not going to sleep until all of their support tickets are solved, that is customer service that you won’t find anywhere else who believe in a nine to five and nothing more than that.
BeastNode promise 99.9% up-time, for us in this testing period, it has been 100%, we’ve had an uptime service ping their servers regularly and it hasn’t gone down except when I’ve forced a server restart whilst installing a plugin or forcing the changes in my server.properties file to take effect.
Within a matter of minutes of our server being online we had players joining the server and building amazing things. It’s incredible how every time we join the server there is something more to see; You can venture past the town and find the homes and farms of others.
Is BeastNode Worth It?
Short answer: Yes. BeastNode is a wonderful Minecraft host and with the cheapest package starting from $5.49 per month there’s not really any reason not to start your own Minecraft server today if you are a fan of it. Even if you purchase your hosting and don’t like it the you can take advantage of the 7 day money back guarantee. Nobody else offers the same customer support and consistency if quality as BeastNode. Interested? Head over to the BeastNode site to pick yourself up a server now.