I have condensed all of my knowledge about ARK server hosting into this one mega-guide that I hope is of use to you. Using this guide you should be able to use my pricing research to aid your decision and find your ideal company.
Don’t forget to check out the home page of my site to see the cheapest server providers I have found when researching.
How to start your own ARK Server (PC)
If you’re new to ARK: Survival Evolved or have very little experience playing the game, chances are you will start by playing on your own solo world. When you start your own world you will be creating a “non dedicated server” on your own computer.
You will not need to do anything technical if you choose to play the game like this, this option makes it very easy to quickly jump into a solo game on your own and start playing the game. However, ARK is a very high spec game to run, which you will need to play on a gaming computer or a at least a custom-built PC with plenty of RAM and an optimised graphics card.
Running a “non-dedicated” server on your machine is great if you’re a casual gamer and want to avoid paying a third party hosting company, however you may run into problems depending on how good your computer is. If you’re playing with friends their experience will be dependent on how your computer runs the server.
Most standard gaming computers and laptops can easily run a 10 person server but you will start to run into problems as the server increases in capacity. You may also notice that the game starts to become clunky after you have played it for a while. This clunky game-play is because of the in game changes you have made, such as buildings and progress which all take resources and hard drive space to load.
If you plan to run a server this way you will also need to keep in mind that your friends will only be able to connect to the world when your machine is switched on and you are also logged on to ARK. So players cleverly avoid this problem by either leaving their machine and account logged on 24/7 or run a separate world on another computer. However you will need to have another computer and an additional copy on ARK. Sadly most people do not have a spare gaming computer so this may not be an option for you.
Shared ARK Server Hosting
Players who are unable to run their server using their own machine will opt for “shared game server hosting.”, this is the easiest option for setting up a multiplayer ARK server.
Essentially you will have to pay a small monthly installment from as little as $10.00 a month. In return a hosting company will set up your dedicated world for you that will be active 24/7 and will also be able to hold an allocated number of players.
All game server hosting companies offer a basic package which includes, Instant set up, Support, DLC and mod-instalment and more. Some companies will offer additional extras such as better clock speeds and higher CPU priority, but this will also cost a bit more. Casual and first time server owners should stick to the basic package as this will be more than adequate for your first experience.
Advanced players with more server hosting experience may want to consider renting a dedicated server or a Virtual private server. This will give a player a lot more versatility when setting up the game world. However this can be a lot of hard work if you are unfamiliar with setting up and managing servers.
A VPS or Dedicated server will be rented as a completely blank machine so you will need to install and continually manage the server yourself. This is perfect for players that want to get technical and have full control of their world.
Typically this option is catered towards servers that have more than 250 players. It’s more cost effective to choose a shared server hosting service for anything under a 200 player capacity in my opinion.
ARK Server Hosting Rental
Renting a server from a third-party company is relatively cheap and gives both new and advanced players a lot of flexibility when creating a new world. This guide intends to highlight the areas you should be considering when choosing an ark server hosting provider.
You will need to consider your own personal criteria including, capacity, server location, mods, server privacy, cost and more, which will all be included in this guide.
Server Cost and Size
A basic ARK server with 30 players slots will cost on average $15.00. The cost factors in capacity, server allocation and technical support. Based on my research I have found that most hosting companies start with a minimum of 30 players and a maximum of 500.
Servers gradually get cheaper per slot as they increase in size, this is because the first 30 – 100 players cover the initial cost and server support.
If you’re a casual or new gamer you will not need more than 10 players slots but 95% of companies will not offer less than 30 players. However I have found that LOW.MS do offer a 10 player package for just $9.70 which is the lowest price I have ever seen. Of course you only get 10 slots which is equal to $0.97 per slot which is very high in comparison to renting a 30 slot server for $15. But if you’re a casual gamer that only needs space for 10 players you can save $5 doing it this way.
Renting cheap hosting can be risky if you’re dealing with a new or unknown hosting company as they may try to oversell services and resources in order to maximise on sales. This is a tactic that is often used by “pop up” hosts.
I have worked extremely hard to separate the good from the bad server packages to bring you all the cheapest options I could find.
At CheapestARKHosting.com I concentrate on price, reviews and the length of time a company has been established to guarantee the best price and service money can buy. View the comparison page to get up to date pricing for your next cheap but “reliable” server.
Choosing your server location is an important part of the server set up process. You should always pick the location that is nearest to you and your friends. Almost all well known hosting companies will offer USA, UK and European locations.
It’s important to select the location wisely as this will affect your connectivity and in game lag. Most companies will offer several locations per country.
Typically game hosting companies in the USA will offer locations spread across the different states in order to cater for everyone. For example GameServers.com have 9 locations in North America which makes it a lot easier for US players to connect to a server closest to them.
Distance between the server and computer is very important, so if you are unsure of the location of a server, do your own research or ask for advice from the company you are looking at. Most companies will have test servers set up across all of their locations. If you’re unable to find test servers on their website ask them directly through email or live chat. It’s better to try before you buy.
Please note that many countries charge additional fees for countries outside of Europe and America. Locations such as South Africa, Singapore, China and Australia will typically be more expensive. On average you will have to pay between $5 to $10 to rent a server from more “niche” locations.
Private vs Public
Do you want to host a private or a public server? Private servers are usually best if you want to create a casual game for you and your friends. Going private helps you avoid other players grief’ing your world and spoiling your fun.
Public allows anyone to join your world. Your server IP will appear in filters and searches on the ARK lobby and server lists. Going public with your server is great if you want to create a PVP server making it a fantastic option for more advanced players looking for a challenge.
Mod and DLC Support
ARK has tons of DLC and mods that can be added to your server. If you’re a new player you may struggle adding the mod files to your world so you may need to depend on the hosting company to do most of this for you.
This service is usually included in the package price but I have seen that some companies do charge additional fees for this.
If it’s your first time and you want to use mods, check the website or ask the sales team if they offer this service for free.
Are you choosing a trustworthy company? Reading reviews is a great way to gauge a company’s reputation. Websites like trust pilot are very useful for honest customer reviews, but it’s always worth checking other sources like the Steam Community or Reddit. I only list companies that have good reviews backed by multiple sources.
Check if you can migrate your existing worlds across to another host. If you already have a server set up with another host you will typically be able to transfer the files across to your new server. This service will usually be free, though some companies may charge or be unwilling to do this for you. So make sure you check the small print before you choose your host.
Typically 90% of game hosting companies will offer a full refund between 24 hours and 7 days. As a player you have the right to get your money back if you’re not getting the service you expect. However some companies try to hold on to your money and will not offer any refund. Make sure you check the terms of service before making you purchase.
In conclusion, here are all of the areas to consider when renting a ARK server from a third-party hosting company:
- Think about your requirements
- Pick a server located nearest to you and your friends
- Test a service before you rent
- Stick to your budget
- Read host Reviews
- Check refund policies
- Consider any additional features you may require
- Mod and DLC support
If this guide has helped you and you’re ready to take the next step, check out my cheapest ARK server hosting on my homepage. You will find a list of all the most reliable and best value hosting companies from around the world. Simply take what you have learned from this guide and apply it with the comparison page to find your next ARK server.