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How to Set The Difficulty in a Minecraft Server

Last modified on Oct 8, 2021 in Control Panel

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Difficulty in Minecraft is a big, important option, with a direct effect on many parts of the gameplay. In essence, difficulty allows the player (or in case of a server, the server owner) to choose how easy, or how hard, they want their gameplay experience to be.

While the difficulty setting changes many things, the most noticeable effect it has is on the enemies. As the difficulty the game is set to increases, the enemies begin to spawn at higher rates, and they become much, much more dangerous — at the hardest difficulties, certain enemies can even break down doors!

By default, Minecraft’s difficulty is set to Easy. However, this might not be something that the server owner wants — perhaps they want their game to be harder, or easier, or they want to remove enemies from the game altogether. Luckily, the difficulty of a Minecraft server can be changed at any time, to any other difficulty, and it’s quite easy!

The guide below outlines the different difficulties, as well as the steps needed to change the difficulty on a Minecraft server.

The Difficulty Levels

Minecraft comes with four difficulty levels: Peaceful, Easy, Normal, and Hard, and these can be changed at any time — either by the player in Singleplayer or by an operator on a server. The four difficulty levels are as follows:

Peaceful — Enemies can’t spawn. If an enemy is spawned forcefully, using an egg or a spawn command, they will instantly vanish upon spawning. Player health regenerates quickly; however, it’s still possible to die if your health is taken down to 0 — for example, if you fall down in lava. The hunger meter never depletes. If changing from any higher difficulty down to Peaceful, all hostile and neutral enemies will disappear.

Easy — Enemies spawn, but they deal less damage than they would on Normal or Hard. If the hunger meter depletes, a player’s health will tick down until they have 5 hearts left. Enemies like Cave Spiders can’t poison players, Zombies can’t break down doors, and enemies deal between 0.5 to 1 hearts of damage.

Normal — Enemies spawn, and deal between 1 and 1.5 hearts of damage. If the hunger meter depletes, a player’s health will tick down until they have 0.5 hearts left. Vindicators can break doors.

Hard — Enemies spawn, dealing greater damage than on Normal. If the hunger meter depletes, a player’s health will tick down until they die. Zombies can break wooden doors.

Changing Through Commands

The command /difficulty lets you change a Minecraft server’s difficulty on the fly, without any need for restarts.

Bear in mind that you need to be an operator on your server in order to use this command; otherwise, you won’t have permission on the server to use the command. Check out our guide on how to make yourself an operator here.

  1. Enter your Minecraft server.
  2. Open the chat, and type in the /difficulty command. Don’t send the command just yet, however!
  3. After /difficulty, type in which difficulty you’d like: Peaceful, Easy, Normal or Hard. For example, if you want to set your server’s difficulty to Hard, you’d type in /difficulty hard
  4. And that’s it! Your server’s difficulty is now set to the difficulty you chose.


Changing Through the Panel

If you’d like to change your difficulty without having to enter the server, you can do so using the server’s control panel. There are two ways to go about this. You can either issue the difficulty command using your server’s console, or change the difficulty in the configuration file.

Using the Console

  1. Open your server’s control panel.
  2. On the top left, click Console to bring up the server’s console.
  3. In the text entry box below the console, issue the difficulty command, together with the difficulty you’d like to set it to. For example, if you want to set your server’s difficulty to Hard, you’d type in difficulty hard and press Enter to issue the command.
  4. Make sure you’re not adding a / to the beginning of the command, as the console doesn’t recognise those.
    Difficulty Console


Using the Config Files

  1. Open your server’s control panel.
  2. On the top left, click Config Files.
  3. Select Server Settings.
  4. Find the Difficulty field, third from the top, and set it to what you want the difficulty to be.
    Difficulty Panel
  5. Scroll down and click Save.
  6. Restart the server when it prompts you for the change in difficulty to be saved.
  7. And you’re done. Your server’s difficulty has been changed to your desired level.



The difficulty of a Minecraft server is an important part of the experience, and knowing how to change it on the fly is important. Thankfully, as the guide has shown, it’s quite an easy and quick process, and you don’t even need to restart the server to do it!

Simply make sure you know which difficulty you want to set the server to, and the changes that difficulty brings with itself, then set the server to that difficulty following the guide above.

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