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 Ocean, https://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 PuTTY: http://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.
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
To stop the server you can call:
Then to start it again you call:
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.
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.