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ARK: Survival Evolved Private Dedicated Server Setup – Beginners Guide

Creating and managing your own private dedicated ARK: Survival Evolved server is a great way to enjoy the game with friends.  Server rentals can be very expensive too.  Luckily, you can rent your own virtual private server (VPS) from Digital Ocean where you can install and manage your own ARK server for about $10/month.  This guide will walk you through the process and it assumes you don’t have much, if any at all, experience in managing remote servers.

If you haven’t done so already, you will need to signup for an account with Digital Oceanhttps://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=77d53f9e1f35.  Once you created your account and logged in we can begin.

1. Create Your Droplet

A droplet is Digital Ocean’s term for your VPS.  Creating one is a simple process of specifying a few variables.

1.1 Enter Your Droplet Name

This can be anything you want.  It does not have to be a domain name since this is not going to be accessible via HTTP (normal browser requests).



1.2 Select Size

We are going to select the $10/month option.  It has 1 CPU, 1GB of memory, and a 30GB SSD.  the ARK server requires 4GB of memory, but for that doubles the cost of the server.  So, we will be taking advantage of the SSD speed and size by creating a large swap to makeup the extra memory.


This is an incredibly under powered server.  If you want to play with a few friends moving up in size.  The good thing about Digital Ocean is that you can do this later if you choose to.  The $40/month option would be optimal.

1.3 Select Your Region

You want to select the region closest to you geographically, since this will give you the lowest ping.  In my case, I’m choosing “New York 3”, the default value.


1.4 Select Image

The image, is the operating system.  For this guide, you should choose “Ubuntu 14.04”.  It’s possible to install the ARK server on other distros, but some of the commands will be different.


1.5 Available Settings

Here is where you can choose some extra bells and whistles for your droplet.  In this case, I’m enabling “Backups”.  This will increase the cost of the server by 20%, but it will give an automated weekly backup.  If something happens to your server, you may want to roll it back, otherwise you could loose all your progress.


NOTE: It is important that these available settings are selected before creating you droplet, many of them can not be changed after the droplet has been created.

1.6 SSH Keys

This guide will use password based authentication.  However SSH Keys are infinitely more secure and should be used once you have your server setup.



1.7 Click Create

Your server will be created within a minute or two of clicking create.



1.8 Server Credentials

Your server credentials will have been sent to your registered email address after the droplet has been created.  These are important, do not loose them!  We will be using this information to connect to the droplet in the next section.


2. Connect To Your Server (SSH)

To connect to your server, we will use Secure Shell (SSH).  This is an encrypted network protocol for accessing machines remotely.  For Windows users, you will need to download PuTTYhttp://the.earth.li/~sgtatham/putty/latest/x86/putty.exe.

2.1 Create A Session

After opening PuTTY, you will need to enter your servers IP address, then click ‘Open’.


NOTE: If this is the first time connecting to the server, you may see a ‘PuTTY Security Alert’ that states the host key is not cached in your registry.  As long as you know you entered the correct IP, then you can click ‘Yes’.  This will remember the server for the next time you connect.


2.2 Login

After you start your session, you need to login.  Enter ‘root’ for the username and press enter.  Then enter the password received in your email.

NOTE: Passwords do not show as you type.

TIP: To paste from your clipboard, right click.  This will be useful for copying commands later in the guide.


2.3 Change Default Password

When you login for the first time, you will need to change your default password.  Simply enter your current password, then enter and confirm a new password.  Remember this password!  Do not loose your root user password!


4 Configure the Server

I’ve created a bash script that will make all necessary configuration changes and install all necessary software to run the ARK game server, https://gist.github.com/kpheasey/35360b1a083870fac3ec

All you have to do is run the following command:

bash <(curl -sL https://goo.gl/zKADp9)

This is a very long process and you will see lots of text scrolling past the screen.

During the configuration process you will be prompted to enter and confirm a password.  This is the password for the new steam user.  Make it a very strong password and remember this password as it will be your only way to connect to the server now.

You will also be asked for to name your ark server, an optional password to make it private, and the ark server admin password.

After the script finishes it prints all the information you just entered plus some extras  You will need this information in the next step.  Do not forget this information!

5 Reconnect As steam User

IMPORTANT: Do not close PuTTY until you have verified that you can login as the steam user that was just created.

Open another PuTTY session by right clicking the PuTTY window header and selecting ‘New Session’

Enter your server IP like last time, but also enter the port that was printed at the end of the installation process.


Now login as ‘steam’ with the password you created in the last step.


You should be logged in as steam and can close the original root session window.

6. Play the Game

6.1 Start the ARK Server

To ark server should actually already be started at this point. You can verify by checking the status with

arkmanager status

To stop the server you can call:

arkmanager stop

Then to start it again you call:

arkmanager start

The server can take a few minutes to come online after it has started.  Check the online status with the status command.

NOTE: For more commands checkout the Ark Server Tools readme, https://github.com/FezVrasta/ark-server-tools#commands

6.3 Joining the Server

To join the server you will have to use the steam server browser from your client, View > Servers.  Select Ark as the game and then look for your server in the list.

7. Monitoring Server Resources

You have just created an ARK server.  It’s not very powerful, so you will want to keep an eye on the server’s resources, you may want to scale up/down the amount of players.  To do this, I use a tool called htop this was installed with the configuration script.

# htop

After starting htop, you will see an overview of the running processes in addition to CPU, memory and swap usage.  To exit, you hit F10.


Well that’s it.  I hope this has been helpful.

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48 comments on “ARK: Survival Evolved Private Dedicated Server Setup – Beginners Guide”

  • Ty

    I have to say thank you for this bash script It made the whole setup as simple as installing the game client. One question though. is it possible to alter the variables the arkmanager uses upon startup? Or, could you elaborate on how you would use htop to alter the settings.

    • kpheasey (author)

      To change those settings, edit /home/steam/ARK/ShooterGame/Saved/Config/LinuxServer/GameUserSettings.ini
      You have two options. One is to use an FTP client, Filezilla[1] is a great one. You can then create an SFTP connection to your server using the steam user credentials. If you do this you can open the file locally and save it with your normal text editor.
      The other is through a command line text editor. nano is an easy basic text editor bundled with Ubuntu. Just usingt he following to open the file.

      nano ~/ARK/ShooterGame/Saved/Config/LinuxServer/GameUserSettings.ini

      Make the necessary changes and then press CTRL+X to exit and type ‘Y’ to confirm the save.

      • Ty

        Thank you I found these settings after a bit of research.

      • Ty

        Do you know why the arkmanager wont load the custom settings in the GameUserSettings.ini?

  • Oblong

    Hey, not sure if this is monitored, but i can get this guide to work, i am however trying to install on Ubuntu 12.04 64bit as thats what my current VPS offers (i’ve used thses guys for a long time and am loathed to leave, im sure you know what i mean)

    I wonder if you may be able to tell me what im doing wrong. The bash command doesnt work. I have gone through guides on how to install the curl package which seems to work but it just doesnt install.

    This one is a bit over my head 🙂

    • kpheasey (author)

      The shell script is meant for digital ocean droplets. Other vps providers most likely have a different configuration.

  • Nolan

    Hey this was an awesome tutorial, thanks. The only problem i am getting is when i try running the command arkmanager start it gives warning your ark server exec could not be found and it after i run i run the status it says server running : no server online : no
    Any help would be great thanks.

    • kpheasey (author)

      Sorry, without access to the VPS, I can’t do much except say try again, hard to offer support past that. Create a new droplet and run the script again.

      • muta

        I have the same exact error, any idea why that might not install during setup? I realize you can’t offer support past that but I don’t particularly want to have to pay to set up another droplet so if there’s any info about the error you might be able to offer that would be much appreciated.

        • kpheasey (author)

          You are only charged for the time you use, it’s billed hourly. So destroying a droplet and trying again will not cost you anything.

          • muta

            Well that is actually great to know haha thanks. Also I think I found the problem, when SFTPing I found the shootergame folder and it seems to me that it is not located in Steam/ARK/Shootergame its actually elsewhere which could be the reason it can’t find the file so I am currently attempting to move it and see if that works. I’ll keep you updated.

  • muta

    so after sftping my server I found that I have no shootergame folder meaning ark isn’t actually installed, could this possibly be because we set up the server using a NEW steam ID?

    • kpheasey (author)

      The install should have taken a long time. There is a series of downloads for grabbing all the Ark files. It’s possible the server files changed as I haven’t been playing the game.

      • muta

        so after making a new droplet and choosing the $20/m option instead of the 10 its working fine, it seems to me that the real problem was the hard drive space or possibly the amount of RAM but at this point it looks like my server is running. I believe that it didn’t have the space needed to install all of the files. My friend was able to connect so this guide DEFINITELY works.

        • kpheasey (author)

          Glad to hear it! If DO changed their droplet sizes, it may have broken the script on the smallest servers, I’ll look into it if I can.

  • Pedro Souza

    Awesome tutorial!

    I have followed and my server is running, however, it does not appear in the Browse server list in the game UI.
    Is there anyway to add my server in the game Browse Servers list so that other players can join?

    Thank you!

    • kpheasey (author)

      This just takes time. After 12-24 hours your server should show in the public servers list.

      • Pedro Souza

        My server appears in arkserver.net list, in the game Server List it never shows up though 🙁

    • muta

      Pedro the best way to access your server is through the steam server browser at this point. The creators set the maximum amount of servers in the list and therefore not every server will show on the list.

  • muta

    So I’ve got another question for you, is there any way for me to get rid of the password on my server? I want to be able to open it up to new players if possible.

    • kpheasey (author)

      You need to edit /etc/arkmanager/arkmanager.cfg. Set a blank password and restart the server.

      • muta

        I found it; I’m so dumb sometimes haha. I just didn’t think to click the / however I do have a new problem and that is that it is denying me access saying I do not have permission to edit that file.

        • Ty

          Not sure if your still having trouble with this but it sounds like a user permission error. Make sure you are the steam user and the Ark Server is stopped.

  • Adam Teece

    Loved the guide, made it very easy to get started. I got the $20/month droplet with 40GB of space and for some reason when I try to update the game, it fails because the update is like 10GB and I run out of space. Is there any way for me to file check the install because it takes up about 30GB of space. Mainly from the Content and ContentStreamers folders. Not sure what I can and can’t delete safely.

    Thanks for your help and the great guide!

    • kpheasey (author)

      Sounds like the server files got bigger since I wrote the guide. The developers said they were going to drastically decrease the size in the near future. Sadly there isn’t much you can do if requires more space. Storage is always an issue with a VPS and using a CDN just isn’t an option.

      • muta

        Yeah they got bigger even than when I said the $20 plan would work like 3 days ago, I had to upgrade to the $40 plan today to update my server to the newest version. The sad part is that if they do reduce the file size we won’t be able to downsize our servers without shutting them off completely and making a new droplet.

  • muta

    So after the update my server refuses to start, I’m wondering if there is an error log I can look at to see what the reason might be?

    • kpheasey (author)

      Error logs are generally in /var/log. I’m not 100% certain that the ark server logs are there though.

      • muta

        It is actually in there but in another directory labeled arkmanagertools or something of the such. My error shows as follows

        [S_API FAIL] SteamAPI_Init () failed; SteamAPI_IsSteamRunning() failed.
        Setting breakpad minidump AppID = ****
        /usr/local/bin/arkmanager: line 204: 24183 Killed “$arkserverroot/$arkserverexec” “$arkserveropts”
        exited with status 0

        • Tim

          “Killed” means the server ran out of memory and killed the process. Do you have a swap file on that machine? (can see with `swapon -s`)

  • had

    You Sir deserve an internet!
    This was an excellent guide and script, I couldn’t have done it better myself. Sincerely sorry that I already had a digitalocean account and couldn’t register with affiliate.

    • kpheasey (author)

      Thank you!

  • Tadwei

    I followed it to the letter. Got the server running. But cannot connect to it. It tells me, ” Unable to queue server for invite.” Also, cannot connect via Filezilla to modify the files for the mod I wish to play. Putty says its running just fine tho.

    • kpheasey (author)

      To connect via Filezilla, you should choose the SFTP connection type. Username and password should be the same you use over SSH with PuTTY.

      I’m unsure about the ‘unable to queue server for invite’ error you are receiving. At what point in the installation/setup process are you receiving the error?

      • Tim

        I also get “Unable to queue server for invite” when joining the server via direct link (steam://connect/serverurl:27016) or via my favorites. I got it when manually setting up a server on DO too. Perhaps a bug in the new server or DO has stopped allowing hosting of ark servers?

        • Tim

          That error message is “Unable to query server for invite”, not queue.

  • Matt

    I follow all the steps and i love the .sh file u made. problem i got it this.

    Your ARK server exec could not be found.

    • Matt

      Okey so i had to change the root folder of ark

      nano /etc/arkmanager/arkmanager.cfg
      changed root folder to: /home/steam/ARK/steamapps/downloading/376030

      but the server wont start. and i found this in the log file.

      16:58:27: start
      Signal 11 caught.
      /usr/local/bin/arkmanager: line 298: 1236 Segmentation fault (core dumped) “$arkserverroot/$arkserverexec” “$arkserveropts”
      16:58:28: exited with status 0

      • Matt

        Never mined i hade to choose a bigger server $10 cant handle anything choose $20 servers

  • Rubidot

    Thanks for creating this. I’ve setup the server, and everything looks good on arkmanager status, but I can’t actually join the server.

    I can see it on arkservers.net, and I can add it to my Steam Favorites, and it will show as an ARK server with 0/10 players, however when I try to join, I get “Host Pending Connection Timeout: Lost/timedout pending connection to host”. I have no trouble connecting to public servers.

    One strange thing I’ve noticed: the port reported by arkservers.net and that Steam sees the game on is always one less than is set in arkmanager.cfg. By default it was set to 7778, but arkservers/steam were reporting it at 7777, and since I changed the config to 7777, they now report the game at 7776. Entering the port when trying to connect just makes it so Steam can’t see the server at all.

    Thanks again for putting this out there, and thanks in advance if anyone can help me get this working!

    • Jay Haase

      @Rubidot: Did you find a solution to your problem? I am experiencing something similar.

    • Joe

      I also have this problem!

    • See OH Zee

      Same problem here too.

      • Esadmf

        I know this is a little late, but did you find a solution to this? I am also having this issue.

  • Moinuddin


    Since this guide is over a year old, would appreciate if you can update/verify if the same works with the latest version of ark so we can invest into it.

    Thanks and Regards.

    • DoomFaced

      No luck. Server was setup, up and running. I was able to add it via Steam browser but I kept receiving “Lost connection” timeouts.

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