Starting Your Own Server
This advice is mainly around focused on running servers that are always available from the public internet (including private/invite-only/whitelist servers).
For LAN games where all players are on one network, and you don't need the world accessible when the "host" player is not playing, you can just use the "Host Server" checkbox option in the "Start Game" screen of Minetest. For always-available LAN games, you can follow the "Self-Managed" section below, using your own equipment to host, and just don't forward a port through your router.
Advice given here is centered around running a NodeCore server with high-quality mods only. Some mods may significantly increase the level of system requirements necessary to host the game.
Turn-Key Public Hosts
The easiest option for hosting a server is to buy service from a dedicated Minetest host, such as Mine City Online*.
You should expect to pay in the $15 to $20 USD per month price range, and receive assistance specific to running your Minetest server, including automatic crash recovery, game/mod installation support, etc. Some providers may offer basic service at cheaper rates, though those may only be good for private servers with a small number of players, and you may need to tolerate lower resources limits or higher lag.
These services are ideal for less tech-savvy users who don't know much about server administration. For more advanced users, they may or may not support running additional services.
NodeCore is quite efficient for what it does, and tolerates very high lag (up to 2000ms) while remaining playable, so you can try starting at the most basic level, and upgrading only as needed.
Running your own server gives you a lot more flexibility, but you take full responsibility for all software configuration. This option requires a level of technical expertise.
If you have equipment you own at home that has available capacity, you can try hosting there.
You will need to forward a port through your router to the internal host that will run the Minetest server. The default Minetest port is UDP 30000. The process of modifying configuration on your router is dependent on your router and you will need to refer to its documentation if you need help. You will need to have the necessary level of access to your router to make this change.
You will need to have a public IP address to host. If your IP address is shared with other ISP subscribers and you are behind a strict NAT at the ISP layer then this option will not work for you.
If your IP address is dynamic then you will most likely need a dynamic DNS to have a stable hostname at which players can reach your server. This usually requires running an "update client" on your own computer. You can get free dynamic DNS from minetest.land, FreeDNS or others, or you can get paid dynamic DNS from providers such as Dyn.
- Service providers are mentioned based on community members having had good experiences with them, but the project does not officially endorse or critique specific third party services.