How to choose an Ark Server Hosting Provider

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How to Choose an Ark Server Hosting Provider Ark Hosting VIEW BEST ARK HOSTING

Choosing the best ARK server hosting provider to meet your gaming needs at the right budget can be confusing especially with so many providers promising to offer superior services.

By Editorial Team | 13th March 2019
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Knowing what type of a server and hosting package requires an understanding of your present and future requirements. Among the critical factors to consider include the platform, location, number of slots, control panel, and mods and customer support. In addition, the gaming server must have low latency, DDoS protection, and most importantly good performance, availability, and reliability.

Different ways to host your ARK gamer server

There are different ways of hosting an ARK game server. This usually depends on your location, players, budget and more. Generally, if you just want to play with a few friends, you can choose to start a single player mode on a local PC based non-dedicated server. However, if you intend to have a bigger multiplayer ARK game, you will need to hire or set up a publicly accessible server.

If you decide to rent a server from an ARK game server hosting provider, there are different options. Generally, the common ARK server options include:

  • Local hosting on your PC or server
  • Shared game server hosting
  • VPS server hosting
  • Ark dedicated server hosting

Each of the hosting options will have different resources, cost, and level of performance and control, as well as benefits and limitations.

In addition, to knowing how to host an ARK server at home, you need a computer with good specifications as well as a local area network.

If you just have a simple ARK non-dedicated server on a local area network, your friends must be physically close to another. One limitation is that they can only play when you are also in the game. Alternatively, you can set up an ARK dedicated server on the local PC and then play on the same machine or using a different PC. However, using a different computer with low specifications may affect your performance and degrade the gameplay. For example, if your computer is lagging, your competitors will have an advantage over you and they will definitely defeat you.

To enable your friends to play even when you are not in the game, you must keep the server running all the times.

During configuration, you need to modify a few things such as the .bat files and must also know how to set up the ARK port forwarding.

Shared, VPS or dedicated server hosting

You can go for a shared game server hosting, especially if you are on a limited budget and do not have many players and yet want to make it publicly accessible. This is the most popular hosting option that offers relatively good performance at low cost. However, since it is shared, it has limited resources, control, and flexibility, and thus has the potential to slow down the performance especially when everyone is in the game.

A more powerful alternative as your players increase beyond 200 is the VPS or ark dedicated server hosting. The VPS comes with more resources and control. However, you will be sharing some of the resources and you do not have full control over the server. On the other hand, there is no sharing of resources if you go for a dedicated ARK server hosting. In this option, the entire server is available to you and you have full control over all the resources. Both the VP and dedicated servers are ideal for commercial use. However, the dedicated is more costly and may come with less support unless you pay additional money.

The performance, cost, and support are some of the factors that dictate which type of a server and options to sign up for. In this guide, we will show you the factors you need to consider if you want to get best ARK server hosting.

Factors to consider in ARK Game Server Hosting

To run your own ARK server, you need to choose a suitable hosting plan. Most of these will give you the freedom to customize your ARK game server as well as the ability to configure the features you require to suit your unique style of gameplay. By selecting only the features you need, you avoid paying for extras that you may never use.

Generally, the cost of hiring a server for your ARK game is low compared to buying the hardware and associated infrastructure. However, if you wish to play offline you can set up your own ARK LAN server, and share it with your friends who are physically closer to you.

While you have the option of setting up your own local ARK gaming server, you may consider hosting it on a publicly accessible machine. With so many providers in the market, it can be confusing deciding on which is best.

Generally, it is very tempting to look for the cheapest option. However, this might be lacking in some options and features, and hence unable to meet your gaming requirements.

To ensure that you are getting value for your money, here are the most important things that you need to consider.

Supported Gaming Platforms

Generally, you need to make sure that the hosting provider supports the platform on which you intend to play your ARK game on. Determine if the company supports your gaming device, depending on whether it is a PS4, an Xbox or a PC. Currently, crossplay is still not supported universally and ARK players on a certain type of platform such as Xbox cannot join servers for different devices such as PlayStation 4 or PC.

Crossplay is only possible between ARK for windows 10 UP and the ARK for Xbox. However, this does not work with the Steam version and the hosting server must have the option to enable crossplay. Unfortunately, only a few providers allow you to change this option.

For this reason, determining what platforms the providers support is probably the most important thing before you even start thinking about other features and pricing.

At the moment, there is a wide range of hosting options for PC gamers. Whether looking of a local budget-friendly ARK game or a high-performance commercial hosting with Cross-Ark Travel, there are plenty of providers to meet your requirements.

The servers that support gaming consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One are not as common. Although the number of providers is increasing it is still lower than that of the PC gaming. One of the best and pioneer PS4 ARK server hosting providers is Survival Servers.

To make it easier for you, we have created an ARK server hosting comparison table which can help you to determine the providers that support your platform. Once you narrow down on the possible providers, look for those with servers near your region.

Global or Local Location

The location of the ARK gaming server has an impact on performance and you need to choose one that is closest.  Some hosting providers allow you to easily see the location of all their servers but there are others who will only show when you are making an order. Using a provider who is straight forward will make your work easier.

Ideally, a server that is closest to the players is the best option. This has the least lag and better gaming experience for your players. Despite the temptation to go for cheaper hosting located far away, you should aim at servers that will not let you down. For example, if you are based in the USA, a cheap server in the UAE or South Africa may not provide the best performance especially if all your players are in America.

The best approach is to first look for the ARK game server host that has datacenters near your location. However, this works if almost all, or the majority of your players are near each other geographically. When the players are spread all over the world, the best strategy is to look for a hosting provider with an excellent global network, a centrally located server, and low average latency.

If possible, ensure that your potential hosting providers support switching servers from one location to another. This is useful, especially if you want to move a server to another country or there is a change in your player base. Confirm if choosing a favorable location, different from the default, will cost extra. Some providers do not charge if you want servers in the USA, Germany and other common locations. However, there are hosts who will charge an additional fee if you want servers in certain countries such as Singapore, UAE, South Africa, and others referred to as exotic locations.

Universal servers, one of the best ARK game server hosting providers, have a website page with the world map showing their data centers in different regions.

After you establish the potential hosting providers with present in your preferred region, it is time to start looking at the features and customization options they offer.

Number of Slots

This defines the number of players that can join your ARK game. While a higher number will require you to pay more, the cost per slot is usually lower. Generally, the type of server you want to set up will be the determining factor. For example, if you just want a small server where you and a few friends can play, you will only need a few slots, say about 10. You may opt for a hosting provider, who offers a minimum of 10 to 15 slots, or better still, look for a host with no minimum.

Most servers provide a minimum of 10 slots. Depending on the location of your server, this will allow you to enjoy ARK: Survival Evolved, with your friends at an affordable cost and without paying for slots you do not use.

The smallest plans for most hosting providers will have a minimum of 30 slots, so you may have to look further or simply use this option which may have many other useful features. The price for the basic packages is almost the same across different providers. Ultimately, you need to pay attention to what they are offering.

If you want to build a larger server with many slots, look for a provider who offers a scaling rate. With this option, you can add the slots according to your requirements, and the best thing is that you end up paying less per slot as you increase the number.

One approach is to start with a small number of slots regardless of whether you want a small or large commercial server. You can then gradually increase the slots as demand grows especially if you choose the right hosting provider with the ability to support your future needs.

Support for ARK Mods Installation

Deploying your own ARK server gives you complete control over which mods to install in order to improve the overall gameplay experience for yourself and other players. Generally, your game server host should support the best ARK mods, such as the Death Helper, Primitive Plus, structures Plus, Play as Dino, Stargaze Worlds, and others.

Generally, the ARK mods fall under the following main categories:

  • Build Mods
  • Map mods
  • Gameplay mods
  • Dino mods
  • Administrative mods

Depending on what mods you would like to add in future, ensure that the host will support their installation. Although some modes are free, there are others that come at an additional cost and you need to confirm this with the potential host.

You also need to confirm whether the ARK hosting provider is offering an easy means to install the mod or you have to use the command line method.

Some of the best ARK server hosting providers often offers an easy to use console that allows you to install mods by the click of a button. For those who do not have this facility, you will need to manually add the mods through the commandline manager or other similar tools. This may not be a big issue, especially if you are conversant with the commands. However, if you are looking to simplify things you may consider the provider with an easier method.

Just like any other software, the mods require updates from time to time depending on how often new versions are released. While you can monitor them and perform manual updates, a host with the automatic mod updating option will definitely give you more freedom, flexibility and time to do other tasks. In addition, it gives you the ability to easily update the ARK game mods without interfering with game time or crushing the program.

Custom Maps

Even with great and scenes, maps and landscapes such as in the ARK: Survival Evolved, the most active players will soon find it less challenging and boring. This increases the desire to explore different and fresh maps.

Instead of using the default, you can create your unique maps and give your players a different gaming experience. One option is to use the procedurally generated maps. Some host providers include this feature that lets you generate your own random ARK maps based on certain parameters or a map seed.

Most often, the best ARK server hosts offer a control panel with the option to enable the Procedural Map Generator. It is, therefore, important to ensure that the potential host supports the maps, and confirms the method of deployment.

Support for Downloadable content (DLC)

Most players want to explore different gaming experiences such as different maps in addition to enjoying newer features. This requires mods and other add-ons that modify the game from its original form. In fact, the developers of the ARK: Survival Evolved usually encourage people to create new custom maps.

The newer files help to keep your game up to date and fresh but you need a hosting provider that supports DLCs, such as the maps and other enhancements.

In addition, you must compare the methods the provider offers for installing the DLCs. While some will give you an option to easily select the world map you want through a drop-down menu, you may have to use the commandline manager if this option is not available.

Either way, you will still have the opportunity to choose the Ragnarok, Scorched Earth, Aberration, a custom build map or any other. But generally, most users will prefer an easy, menu-driven setup as opposed to the commandline or manually editing the .ini files. Ideally, choose a host, such as Craft and Survive who provides a wide range of DLCs and maps, in addition to easy to install method even non-technical users.

Support for Clustering and Cross-ARK Travel

If you have or intend to, set up more than one ARK game server, look for a hosting provider who supports clusters. With this option, you can join the game servers together and create multiple worlds for your players. This allows them to transfer and share characters, items, and dinos in what is known as Cross-ARK Travel.

The ability for you and your players to travel across multiple worlds will certainly make the game more enjoyable, but you need to confirm that this will be possible. Some hosting providers do not support the clusters while others offer it as either a free or chargeable service.

Server Latency or Ping

This refers to the average total time the data takes to travel from a gaming device to the server and back to the device. Usually, this depends on the location of the server and the quality of your network connection. A low latency or ping delivers a better gaming experience to your players. On the other hand, a higher latency causes the game to lag, hence making it difficult for players to compete with each other, or against the dinos. To avoid lags and slow responses, look for a host that has the lowest ping. The best way to go about this is to test all the servers in different locations. Most often, some hosting providers such as GameServers.com have set up several demo servers in different geographical locations. This enables you to test the latency and determine which location will work best for you. Basically, you can ping the server name or its IP address and then compare the results.

Game Server Control Panel

The control panel eases the work of setting up, configuring and managing your ARK Game server. This includes modifying the configurations files, backing up the server, installing mods, and many more server administrative functions. Usually, most gaming server hosts provide a basic TCAdmin control panel. This is an easy to use and intuitive tool that adequately meets your requirements when setting up a small and simple private server to share with a couple of friends.

The larger game server host providers such as SurvivalServers and ArkServers.io offers more powerful control panels specifically customized for the ARK game server. These allow you to easily configure and manage the multiple servers from one single login, schedule various tasks, and monitor the server, among other things.

Another option you may consider is the ability to administer your game server from a mobile device. While most providers have the traditional panel, others may have one that is optimized for mobile devices, and this comes in handy when away from your workstation.

ArkServers.io provides one of the best ARK game control panels.

Manual vs. Automatic Update Options

Some providers support both manual and automatic updates and you can choose what to use. However, regardless of the option available, the hosting provider must avail all the official ARK updates immediately they are released.

You can then decide on whether you want to install them manually or let the host do it automatically. The manual process differs according to the control panel. For example, if using the in-built ARK game control panel, you can update by simply clicking the Steam Update. If your host supports automatic updates, you will need to enable this in the control panel. This will deploy the updates automatically as soon as newer versions are available. Either case, the update process should not affect the in-game world.

However, you need to be careful since there is a potential of incompatibility issues between the installed mods and the newer version of the game after the update. Unfortunately, when such happens, you may not be able to return or restore the game to the older version.

FTP Access and Backup

FTP access enables you to securely connect to your ARK game server from a remote machine and perform a wide range of administrative functions such as uploads and downloads. For example, you can download a backup file from your server to your local machine or another remote server. You can also use the FTP to access your ARK server and upload files from your computer or another server or migrate to another host. Most providers have this function but you need to confirm.

Backup is a critical feature that helps to prevent data loss hence ensuring security and continuity. In case your server crashes or there is a virus attack, you can always restore a backup and continue with your operations will little interruptions. Look for a hosting provider where the backup option is available in the control panel. Ideally, you should schedule regular backups and if possible, have automatic backups at certain times such as after a restart. Most often, the backup may remain on the server, but the best practice is to manually save a copy offline such as on a local machine or remote site.

Server Migration to a Different Host

You will need a server migration service when moving to or from a host. This may be due to performance issues or when your host does not support certain features. Your chosen hosting provider should enable you to move seamlessly, including helping you to transfer your data and configuration files. Some providers offer this as a free service and others at a cost.

The migration features are usually not available by default and may lack completely, while some providers will offer it as an add-on. As such, you need to find about from the provider’s policy documents. Alternatively, see if you are comfortable transferring the server to a new host manually. If you are conversant with FTP, you could download your server files onto your local storage and then use FTP to upload it to the new hosting server. Otherwise, you can use FTP to transfer the files from the current server to the new one.

Protection against DDoS Attacks

Game servers are a favorite for DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. This involves bombarding the server with a lot of traffic from multiple locations and potentially making it inaccessible.

Usually, an ARK server hosting provider will use both hardware and software protection tools to ensure that all their systems are always secure. In addition, deploying redundant servers minimizes the downtime and recovery time in the event of a DDoS attack.

Some providers do not provide DDoS protection, while others only do it for certain network points and not the entire server infrastructure. This may not be a big problem if you are setting up a small ARK private server to use with a few friends. However, if you are setting up a commercial ARK server with a bigger audience, you need to ensure that your ARK hosting provider has the full protection, hence minimize risks of attacks and downtimes.

Even with their assurance, you still need to protect your server and follow security best practices.

Server Custom Branding

The cheap hosting providers often include their brand and make it visible to your players. This may be a semi-intrusive popup message that appears when players join your server. They can also place their company name just before your server name.

This may not be an issue if you just want to enjoy the game with your friends. However, it does not look good when setting up a professional gaming server and you may need to pay extra money to remove the branding. If possible, look for a host who either does not brand or offers free debranding.

Price of the Hosting Plan

After identifying suitable potential servers with low latency, ideal control panel, DLC, an acceptable number of slots, and all the features that you require, the next thing to check is the cost of the hosting plan.

Most often, the price for the ARK server hosting plans is based on the number of slots. To accommodate more players at the same time you need more slots and consequently more server resources. However, the cost varies from one provider and region to another. For example, one slot on a high-performance game server in the USA and Europe is about 50 cents (USD) per slot while it will cost you about one USD or less in Australia.

Although it is tempting to go for the cheapest hosting plan, be careful and verify what you will get from that package. Otherwise, the lower cost may be at the expense of performance and will give you and your players bad gaming experience.

Company Information and Reputation

Find out more about the company, its services, reputation, and management. Using the internet search, you will get information such as successes, major customer reviews, drawbacks, and if it is undergoing financial or legal difficulties.

Quality of Customer Support and Options

In addition to providing great features, a good ARK game server host should offer reliable support to ensure that customers do not get stuck. Some providers offer certain types of support depending on the hosting plan, for example, the basic plan may give limited support over email, and chat during working hours only. However, the more costly plans may offer unlimited support via emails, telephone, chat and other means 24 hours a day. But this, of course, will means paying more for the services.

Once you settle on a hosting provider, try and determine the type of support they offer and see if this will work for you. An even better way to confirm is to contact the support and see their response time, effectiveness, professionalism, knowledge, and reliability. It is also good to establish the type of support channels they rely on i.e. email, telephone, chat, social media etc.

Terms of Service and Refund Policy

Generally, each ARK game server host provider has different sets of policies. Ensure that you check them carefully and understand what you will be getting under a certain contract. If in doubt from the lengthy documents, consider contacting the potential hosts that you have settled on and see if they offer a trial period of their servers.

This way, you will be able to test and see if it meets your requirements. However, not all providers will have the trial and if you still want to go ahead, check their refund policy and terms of service. Most often, the ARK game server host providers will refund the money within the 24 to 72 hours. Even for the few who take longer, they will refund within 7 days.

However, there are still some game server host providers who only make refunds under certain conditions. Ensure that you understand what you are getting into before signing up and if in doubt, check the internet to see if other customers have had refund issues with the company. For example, you can search for ‘refunds +ARK Host Company name’ and see if there are many queries.

Years in ARK Gaming Hosting Business

Find out how long the hosting company has been offering services in the gaming market. If they have been there for long, it is likely they are providing a reliable service and have also gained a lot of experience.

You also need to confirm that they have specifically been supporting the ARK game. Otherwise, the company could be in the gaming industry but not specializing or good in the ARK game. Some hosting providers intentionally choose to specialize in only a few games. This way, they are able to offer the best service to their customers since they customize and produce the ideal hosting environments for particular games.

There are also very large companies with extensive infrastructure and the ability to host a wide range of different types of games.

Either way, hosting companies that have several years of service and reputation have the potential to help you build and support your gaming server. However, large companies have many customers and getting their attention may be a problem when an issue arises. So, it is good to also check reviews from other customers to see if it is a good fit for your gaming needs.

Check Reviews and Ratings

The online independent reviews are great places to find out more about the hosting provider. In particular, reading these reviews and ratings will help you to discover some undocumented strong and weak points about the provider. You will also find out whether customers in your region are experiencing downtimes or lags. This will enable you to make a better decision, and avoid spending your money on a provider with poor services, performance, and support.

Positive customer feedback on reliable game review sites or forums, such as ARK Steam community or official ARK community forum are an indication of a good game hosting provider. Another reliable place to check is the TrustPilot which provides reviews gaming server hosts from customers. Currently, the Trustpilot has been ranking the Nitrous Networks as the number one host for a long time.

You can also search for the provider on Twitter and other social media networks to see what customers are saying about them, questions they are asking, and complaints or compliments they are making.

Searching for the company on the internet may also give you useful information such as promotions in your area, deals or discounts as well as features that may work towards making your gaming server a success.

Conclusion

It is our hope that our guide has helped with you with choosing the best ARK server hosting provider for you. To sum up, here are the main factors to consider:

  1. Choose a hosting provider who supports your platform i.e. PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox
  2. Select a server closest to the players, if global look for a centrally located server
  3. Determine the latency of your potential server hosting provider
  4. Look for a host who supports your current and future slots requirements at a fair price
  5. Match your budget with the suitable host provider
  6. Find out if the host supports Mods and DLCs
  7. Establish whether the potential provider will support your migration to or from another host
  8. Check the customer support options, their knowledge, responsiveness, etc. If necessary contact them for more information or what is probably not clear
  9. Confirm about backups, DDoS protection, discounts, and any other issues that will help you in making a better decision
  10. Research on the company, its operations, good and bad reviews, reputation, years in ARK server hosting business, refund policy and more gaming industry

While we have included most of the basic issues to look for, we may have missed out some information that you still require to make up your mind. For this reason, we have a summary of the major ARK server hosting providers on our website. This includes a summary of a wide range of features and options. Finally, you can check our reviews of several different ARK hosting servers. As you can tell, we are more than happy to help you find the best ARK server hosting provider that will meet your gaming needs.

Written by
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team is constantly watching for new and exciting services to report on. They aim to bring balanced, honest reviews to the site to give you the best comparisons and ensure you have the knowledge to choose the product right for you. Read more.
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