STEP TWO: MINECRAFT SERVER HOSTING AND CONTROL PANEL
Putting a public Minecraft server on the internet is not free. At a minimum, you can expect to pay about $4.95/month for space and memory on a computer that is always connected to the internet and will let about 1-4 players play simultaneously. This is called server hosting and plenty of companies offer the service. As well, you should invest in a domain name so that it is super easy for others to connect to your server. It is much easier to remember and more professional looking to be able to give someone your domain name to type spartangamer.com:25567 (domain name) into their Minecraft client instead of 123.45.678.91:25567 (IP number). Luckily, it is super affordable - approx $10/year and some game hosts will include the first year with their setup fee. That's it for costs. After the initial setup and domain registration, for $4.95/month you'll have a fully functional, easy to administer Minecraft server that is accessible 24/7.
WHICH MINECRAFT SERVER HOSTING TO USE?
We own and therefore use Spartan Gamer Hosting. You can do a search for others if you like, but I'm going to shamelessly plug our service. Our Mini-Spartan plan is perfect for newbie server owners and gives you a server capable of running 1-4 players (256MB RAM). You get a www.yourname.com domain name to make it easy for others to connect to your server and a Multicraft control panel to control your Minecraft server from a web browser. Without a web browser control panel, you'd be stuck using a console window on the server - not very user friendly. With the Multicraft control panel - Minecraft server administration is super easy. This entry plan can grow as big as you want simply by adding more RAM to your account, so we can adjust your resources as your Minecraft community grows to ensure everything remains fast and fluid.
WHY YOU NEED THE MULTICRAFT CONTROL PANEL
When you have a Minecraft server, you have to administer it. The Administrator keeps the players in line, adds and removes plugins that extend Minecraft functionality (using Craftbukkit), starts and stops the server, etc... Without a web based control panel, you'd have to start a terminal session through SSH to your server and use a console (command line window). It's kind of like the console you use in Minecraft, but you need to know Unix commands to make it do things. It's not super hard, but if you're unfamiliar with it, it can be difficult to get things done quickly.
That's where Multicraft comes into play. It is a web based interface to your Minecraft server. That means you can just open up a browser, click the Minecraft Server Control Panel link on the main navigation bar and login to your administration interface. Once logged in, you'll see something like this:
I'll get more into how to run your Minecraft server with the server control panel later. If I haven't scared you off yet with all the talk about money, your next step is to actually order a Minecraft server so you can configure it and get it online. So, put away a few dollars each month to pay for your server and then read on to Step Three: Ordering, Setting Up, and Starting Your Minecraft Server.