Windows Dedicated Servers

Ark: Survival Evolved

Welcome to my Dedicated Server Setup Guide for Ark: Survival Evolved. This guide should get you up and running as quickly as possible. It contains plenty of screenshots and a full explanation for both registered Steam users and those playing with an Anonymous login.

Step 1: Download steamcmd.exe

The first thing that you will need (it's way easier this way) is the utility from Steam called steamcmd.exe. With this utility you will be able to download, install, and keep your server up to date.

Once you have it downloaded just extract all the files from the zip in a handy location. Then double click the steamcmd.exe file. This will launch what looks and behaves much like a DOS command window.

Step 2: Installing The Ark: Survival Evolved Dedicated Server

Once you have the steamcmd.exe running you will need to enter the following commands:
(if you are using your Steam account info, see below for Anonymous)

login username password

force_install_dir pathyouwanttoinstallto

app_update 346110 validate

Ok, so username is your Steam username, and of course password is your Steam password. This will log you into Steam. The pathyouwanttoinstallto is where you want the server to be installed. Eg: C:\my\ark\server

The app_update command is the one that does the real magic. It downloads the files and puts them where you asked, and validate option makes sure they are all ok.

If you are using Anonymous for the Steam login, see the code below. Please keep in mind that there are two main considerations with this method. First is that it is far better for security to use Anonymous for Dedicated Servers. Second, the download speed is brutally slow as it is throttled way back. They save the speed for the registered accounts. Still, you should use Anonymous for Dedicated Servers due to the security matters involved. Here is the code:

login anonymous

force_install_dir pathyouwanttoinstallto

app_update 376030 validate

Updating Your Dedicated Server

Updating your dedicated server is a simple matter, though it can be a slow process. Simply follow the steps for installing Ark: Survival Evolved. This process not only does a fresh install if you haven't installed the game, it also verifys your installation and updates it as necessary. Easy, right?

Dedicated Server Settings

Next you need to setup the configuration for your dedicated server. This is a bit easier than it sounds. First you need to open the directory where you installed your Ark Server. Then move it to the directory ShooterGame\Saved\Config\WindowsServer. In my case, my full path is C:\arkserver1\ShooterGame\Saved\Config\WindowsServer. The file that you are looking for is called GameUserSettings.ini

As with the rest of this guide, I will be updating this information as it changes with the evolution of the game. Please check back often.

In the file GameUserSettings.ini you want to find these entries which should be near the end of the file:

[Server Settings]

[Session Settings]
SessionName=Name of your Server goes here


Security For Your Ark: Survival Evolved Dedicated Server

Before you even launch your server you should setup the passwords in the ini file. Just edit this file with Notepad and put in the passwords for joining the server and for the admin as well. This is very important for at least the admin pass, but I'd also recommend setting both to ensure you don't have people just randomly connecitng and ruining your game.

Server Start-Up Batch File

To startup your server you'll need a batch file. Just open up Notepad and save the new empty file as myserver.bat. You can call it almost anything but don't change the .bat part or it won't work.

Inside the file put this text:

start ShooterGameServer "TheIsland?Listen"

What that does is it starts the server and selects the default map and tells it to listen for connection attempts. If you don't tell it to listen don't expect it to hear you when you want to connect to it!

Place this file in the directory ShooterGame\Binaries\Win64. Then, to launch your server, just double click it. A DOS command window should pop up and rather quickly go away. Another will then come up and stay around. At this time there isn't really much you can do with it.

It can take a heck of a long time for the Ark Dedicated Server to be ready and responding. On some systems it has literally been over 20 minutes. Please finish reading this guide before launching your server to make sure your configuration and security are setup correctly.

Assuming the dos window for the server is open and not showing errors, the problem is almost certainly one of these issues. If you can't see your local server then double check the firewall and ip address on the server computer. If these are ok, wait a bit longer. Depending on your server it may simply take a really long time.

If you can see it, but your friends can't, the problem is in your router or the ip address you gave them. Double check the settings on your router and check your ip address. Most people have a dynamic IP which means that little guy changes rather often.

Connecting To Your Ark Dedicated Server

Ok, yay, it should be up and running. But you won't be able to connect to it quite yet. Next you have to add your server to your favorites list in Steam. Only then will you be able to find it.

To find the Steam Server Window all you have to do is right click the Steam icon on you Task Bar and click Servers. Or if you are in the Steam client, for example, looking at your library you'll see menu items along the top starting on the left. Click View the Servers.

Once you have the Servers window open all you have to do is either right click an empty area in the window and click add server or click the Add Server button down on the bottom right. Then enter the IP address of your server. If your server is on your computer or another computer in your house on your local network you need to use your local ip address. To get this just go to the computer with the server installed on it and press the windows key and the r key. Then type in cmd and press Enter or Return.

This will present you with a dos command window. Now all you need to do is type in ipconfig. And yes, that command is ancient but it still does the trick. What you are looking for is an entry that starts with 192.168. The next two numbers will be dependent on the computer and your nextwork.

It shoud look something like this:

Ethernet adapter Ethernet:

IPv4 Address ........... : 192.168.?.?

Where the ? marks are the actual numbers assigned to your network and machine. What you see can vary dramatically depending on your computer's hardware and software configuration.

Now to get your address for your friends, or your external IP address, you have to do a little more work. Depending on how well you know your router and how decent it is you should be able to ask it. If that already sounds like too much... Get Your IP Address this page will tell you your ip address. This is the IP you need to give to your friends or anyone else you want to have on your server.

But you aren't done yet. Assuming that you want people outside your house joining your server you do need to setup your router to port forward to the server. There are two ports you must configure.

There ports are:


At this time documentation on whether that is UDP, TCP, or both, is lacking. So I would recommend setting both UDP and TCP to make sure it works. And of course these will be forwarded to the computer you have the server running.

You will also need to open these ports in your firewall. Windows Firewall should ask you if you want to allow access for the server when you launch it.

Depending on your version of Windows and your router/modem the method of setting up these options will be different. Consult the documentation for your router. As for the Windows firewall, that can be accessed by opening the control panel and typing firewall in the search box in the top right corner.

Trouble Accessing Your Local (LAN) Server

If you are having trouble accessing your LAN server, keep in mind that you must use its local address. Your friends that aren't at your house will need to use your WAN address as explained above. The reason you must use the local address is because any halfway decent router or firewall will reject what is call a loopback connection.

That means if you go out to the internet (connecting to the local network server via its WAN IP), it is a loopback. You are going out to the web and coming back. Hackers by the dozen (more than that by a mile) try to fake this to hack peoples computers, as, in many cases, LAN to LAN connections (your living room computer to your bedroom computer for example) have much lower security placed against them. In some cases they have much higher privileges.

So the bottom line is this: if you want to connect to a computer at your home (on your machines local network) use local addresses. Using the WAN address is a sure fire way to get no response. And if you do get a response... OMG your Firewall or Router is a security threat that should be fixed immediately.