If you’re unfamiliar with ARK: Survival Evolved private servers then luckily you’ve stumbled across an in-depth guide that will explain and compare the three main options available.
I will explain the options that you have available with both the advantages and disadvantages below.
The Three Options For Getting Your Own ARK Server
The three options I will be talking about are Local, Shared and Dedicated hosting, which can all be used to run an ARK server but vary in price and use.
By the end of this guide I will summarise which server option is best for you and your community, making your choice easier.
Local ARK Hosting
The first option is not only free but it’s the default way for players to set up their own server using the world creation option in the game lobby.
Players can either choose to join a server from the lobby list, manual search for a server using the IP or create one using their own PC.
This is the easiest option and allows players to connect with their friends without needing to technically set up a server.
However, local hosting can be limited as the power of your PC and internet speed will determine how well your server runs.
It’s a very good option for players that have a decent computer, who want to run a vanilla ARK server with just a couple of friends.
Though you may notice lag on your server if you start to add more players or build more structures within your world, which your computer will constantly need to account for.
- The server can be created without having to do any technical work, making it great for novice players.
- This option is free because your computer is being used as the hosting machine.
- Easy to connect with your friends via a Steam invite.
- Players will only be able to connect to your world when your PC is running ARK.
- Your experience will be limited by the performance of your PC as it’s trying to track your experience and run the world at the same time.
- If your PC crashes or breaks you may lose all of your saved game data.
Shared ARK Hosting
Unlike local hosting, shared hosting is a paid service in which you rent a small space on a server with an allocated amount of RAM, CPU and Hard Disk space.
Making it a great option for players looking to upgrade and expand their world.
You can either rent a shared hosting package from a default computer hosting company or game server provider.
A server hosting company will give you a blank machine which you will then need to download the ARK files and upload yourself.
This is difficult and not recommended for players that do not have server knowledge.
Instead you should rent a service from a game server provider or “GSP” as it’s known by the gaming community.
A GSP will offer players a monthly package that will include an ARK server, 24 hour support, mod installation and more.
Packages start from as little as $10 a month for 10 players.
If you’re interested in renting a shared server check out all the cheapest options on the homepage or view my “How To choose a provider” guide for an in-depth look at shared hosting.
- 24 Hours support from knowledgeable staff that know how to fix all ARK related problems.
- Free Mod installation for players that want to add something new to their world.
- Cheapest paid option. Packages starting at $9.80 per month.
- Most companies offering a shared server will offer a refund policy on all packages.
- GSP’s provide in-depth guides and manuals that explain how to get the most out of your server. It’s a great place to learn how servers work.
- Shared hosting isn’t free. You will need to pay a subscription for the server that can be paid monthly or annually.
- Access to certain server settings may be locked on shared hosting.
- Only one service can be run on a single subscription.
If you’re playing on a console rather than PC, shared hosting is also an option
Due to the limitations of consoles you will either need to play on the dedicated console servers or rent a shared hosting package for GSP.
It works the same as the PC version, meaning you will need to edit your console server via a control panel that is accessed on the server providers website.
Dedicated ARK Hosting
For advanced players a dedicated server is the ultimate experience. This is because you will have complete control over your world, with very few limits.
However this is the most difficult option out of the three and you will need to have some server knowledge and skills in order to set up and run your server.
A dedicated server will be rented as a blank machine which will require you to download the ARK server files yourself.
Once you have downloaded the files you will then need to customise and set up the server to your requirements.
This option should be avoided by novice players as it’s both expensive and difficult to manage.
However it’s the perfect machine for large communities or customised PVP servers.
- Complete Server control and access to every area.
- The ability to run more than just one ARK world at the same time.
- Can run other games on a dedicated server such as RUST, Minecraft etc.
- Dedicated servers can be very expensive and can cost between $50 and $500 depending on the size you choose.
- Setting up a dedicated server requires a lot of server knowledge. This option is not for novice players with limited server management skills.
In conclusion you should first decide what type of hosting you require based on both what you’re going to use the server for and how many players you want to host on your server.
I hope that all of the listed advantages and disadvantages above have helped you narrow down your selection but I have summarised below which server I feel would benefit a certain type of player or community.
New and Casual Gamers – If you’re new to ARK and you want to keep costs low choose local hosting for free or a cheap server provider who offers a small package for you to trial for a month. As mentioned before the cheapest server I have found is just $9.80 and can be found on the homepage.
Small Groups – For small groups that want to play on a modded server I would recommend renting a server from a game server provider. They offer packages from 10 to 500 players, which means they will be able to accommodate most communities.
Large Communities or PVP Servers – Players and communities looking for a serious server that can run 200 plus players should consider dedicated server hosting. Yes, it will require more server management but the server will run better and you will have full access to all settings. Although this is the most expensive option.
Console Gamers – If you’re playing on console you have two choices, you can either play using the default servers that PS4 and Xbox One provide, which is the easiest choice or rent a console server from a GSP.