Quick Start Guide

This is a step by step reference on how to create a Minecraft server with Sponge version 7 and above.


Are you migrating from a Bukkit or Canary based server? Please read Migrating to Sponge as it explains the differences between these platforms and Sponge, and explains the migration process.


If you’re running behind a server proxy such as BungeeCord, Waterfall or Velocity, there are additional steps you must follow once Sponge is installed, which are documented in Using Sponge with Server Proxies.

System Requirements

The version of Java that you require depends on the version of Sponge (and therefore Minecraft) that you wish to run:

SpongeAPI version

Minecraft version

Minimum Java Version




Java 8

Requires at least update 20. Does not work with Java 9 or later.



Java 8

Java 17 is recommended

9.x (unreleased)


Java 17

Java 8 is not supported

We also recommend a CPU with a large single core speed and at least 2GB of RAM (higher if you plan to run with mods). We highly recommend using the 64bit Java runtime.

See Installing Java for more help with how to install Java 8.

SpongeForge or SpongeVanilla?

There are two official Sponge implementations on offer that integrate directly with the official Minecraft server jar:

  • SpongeForge - a mod for Forge that allows you to use Sponge plugins with Forge mods;

  • SpongeVanilla - a server jar that adds Sponge support directly into vanilla Minecraft.

When choosing, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you want to run Forge mods alongside Sponge, you must use SpongeForge.

  • If you want to run Sponge in single player, you must use SpongeForge.

  • If you want a vanilla server with Sponge support, you can use either SpongeForge or SpongeVanilla.

While this suggests that you should use SpongeForge in all cases, SpongeVanilla can actually be easier to update and setup than Minecraft Forge and SpongeForge.


Other implementations of the SpongeAPI exist that do not use Mojang’s Minecraft code, such as Lantern. This guide will only focus on the implementations that the Sponge Project provides.


SpongeForge is a mod for Minecraft Forge and therefore requires a Minecraft Forge server. Set up your Minecraft Forge server first. Once you have your server set up, you can get SpongeForge from our downloads page and place it in the “mods” directory alongside any other mods you may wish to install. You can then start your Forge server and Sponge should be loaded.

Note that SpongeForge requires a compatible build of Minecraft Forge to be installed on your server. The version we build against is indicated on the downloads page, as well as the filename. Updating SpongeForge may also require an update to Minecraft Forge.


Some mods may clash with SpongeForge’s changes causing errors to appear on the console. Before reporting this to Sponge, please refer to When Things Go Wrong, particularly Mod Compatibility. You can also ask us for help on our support channels.

For more information on how to create a Minecraft Forge server and install SpongeForge, see Installing SpongeForge.


SpongeVanilla is a server wrapper for vanilla Minecraft that adds the Sponge code to Minecraft when run. Unlike SpongeForge, you do not need to have created a Minecraft server before running SpongeVanilla. It is therefore simpler to setup and update, making it a good option for those that simply want the Vanilla experience.

You can get SpongeVanilla from our downloads page. Once downloaded, ensure that you run SpongeVanilla using the command line, as Sponge disables the server console GUI to increase performance. SpongeVanilla will download the appropriate version of Minecraft and setup the server structure for you.

For more information on creating a SpongeVanilla server, see Installing SpongeVanilla.

Configuring Sponge

Sponge is a highly configurable product. While the core is designed to provide the SpongeAPI for servers, Sponge also adds optional performance optimizations and exploit patches to the vanilla game, as well as fine tuning some of Sponge’s advanced systems. The configuration file can be found in the config/sponge directory.

For more information about how to configure Sponge, see Configuring Sponge.

Installing Plugins

The directory where plugins are installed depends on the version of Sponge that you are using.

  • For SpongeAPI 7 and earlier, plugins go in the /mods directory.

  • For SpongeAPI 8 and later, plugins go in the /plugins directory.

Once you have added your plugins to the plugins directory, start (or restart) your server. Your plugins should then be available, which you can verify by running the /sponge plugins command.


Sponge does not have an equivalent to Bukkit’s /reload command and so plugins cannot be unloaded and reloaded during the server lifetime. The server must be restarted to change plugins.

Once plugins are installed, they may generate configuration files. The Sponge convention is that these files are placed in the config directory, but this may vary. Read the plugin documentation for any specific guidance.

For more information about plugins, please see our page on installing plugins.


You can find community supplied Sponge plugins on our hosted plugin repository Ore.

Next Steps

Now you have created your server, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the following so that you can manage your server effectively:

When Things Go Wrong

From time to time, incompatible mods or other strange behavior might cause problems on your server. Before reaching out for help, following the advice on these pages may help you fix your problems quickly: