Minecraft – Upgrading to a 1.16 Server

Yeah, it’s a big deal with the nether update. Lots of gold farms, lots of new areas, and people are excited to see everything.

However, care must be taken when upgrading to Minecraft 1.16. Lots of posts and videos have been made on how to upgrade a singleplayer world, but even more care must be taken for multiplayer, as you have a lot of other players depending on you, the sysop, to maintain their builds, their contraptions, their stuff.

I myself run a Spigot/Paper server for myself and my inlaws, and the question came up today, “So would you guys like to go explore the new nether biomes on Saturday?”

I had to remind them that, “Hey, Minecraft 1.16 may be out, but Spigot usually takes a few days and Paper is going to be behind THAT, so we may not be able to make this Saturday work. We’re relying on the punctuality of those developers. And even if we do get Spigot or Paper by Saturday, chances are very high that our favorite server plugin, EssentialsX, which gives us the /tpask, /home, and /spawn commands will not have been updated on top of that. I will do everything I can to make sure we can have some fun with new, cool things on Saturday, but I can’t guarantee it.”

As a failsafe my plan is to temporarily run the vanilla Mojang server straight-up. We’ll lose performance, and we’ll definitely lose support for the few plugins I run, namely EssentialsX, Dynmap, and DiscordSRV, but we won’t be dead in the water without those.

But this is multiplayer. I can’t magically wave a hand or flip a switch and suddenly we’re playing on 1.16 and everything works still.

Rather, I will need to spend time taking the server down temporarily (which, with only four of us is not a big deal – sometimes we go days without anybody logging in).

Once the server is down, the plan is to make a full folder backup, archive it away as “Final 1.15.2” or something.

Verify Backup Integrity

Optionally I can also take the world, world_the_end, and world_nether folders from the save, create a new 1.15.2 instance with my launcher and copy the save file in as its own world. There are some folder finagling steps that must be done, though.

  • Copy world/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName
  • Copy world_nether/DIM-1/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName/DIM-1
  • Copy world_the_end/DIM1/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName/DIM1

Through some testing, the playerdata/ and level.dat files in the world_the_end/ and world_nether/ folders seem to be either unused or duplicates.

Loading up the server world in singleplayer 1.15.2 should prove that yes, the server save was backed up correctly.

Verify Upgradeability

Once this is confirmed, exit and copy the entire save directory to the 1.16 saves location (if using the Vanilla launcher, this may actually be the same folder and can be loaded with a different version. But if you’re like me and using something like MultiMC, this is an entirely different instance of Minecraft so as to avoid version clashing, and so the save must be copied in full to the v1_16/.minecraft/saves/ folder).

When loading, the warning that “This world was saved in an old version of Minecraft. Upgrading is irreversible. Are you sure!?” Well we’ve already created the backup, so like with every other Minecraft Backup tutorial out there, we just say, “I know what I’m doing! Proceed with upgrade.”

Now the world is loaded in 1.16.x. Open it to a LAN with cheats, fly around, check out key builds and contraptions and confirm that they’re working.

Next travel to the Nether. If you’re like me and have only explored out to, say, (500,500), (-500,-500) that entire area will be deemed nether_wastes, and no ancient debris will be generated down at lower bedrock because …there is nothing to generate. HOWEVER, as I tested and confirmed, generating new chunks by flying past these borders do generate new nether biomes properly.

A newly generated salt flat (Basalt Delta) at (600,-600)
Soul sand valley at (1000,-1000)
Rain in the a Crimson Forest? Only when watching nether chunks generate whilst flying in a straight line into unexplored territory.

Upgrade the Server

So with the key builds listed out to re-verify, run the upgrade. For Spigot and Paper, this should be as simple as

wget -4 -O BuildTools.jar
java -jar BuildTools.jar --rev latest

or downloading paper-<version>.jar and changing the startup script with the new version number, and then just starting up the server like normal.

HOWEVER, if you’re like me and don’t have any essential plugins that will break your entire world if you were to leave them out, consider, at least temporarily downloading server.jar direct from and changing the startup script to load that directly rather than the Spigot or Paper variants.

Once this is done, it will definitely be prudent to log in, op the player or switch into creative and fly around to those various key builds and verify that they’re still functional and uncorrupted.

Vanilla back to CraftBukkit/Spigot/Paper

SpigotMC has not updated to 1.16 yet. Nobody knows how long it will be. It’s lead developer is like so many others – aloof and mysterious. However, it will be presumably updated quickly. It may be today, it may be tomorrow, it may be next month. It’s hard to gauge based on historical evidence.

And PaperMC, while known to be quick with updates, also has to wait for Spigot before it can move forward. However, Paper is also known as a drop-in replacement for Spigot that overlays on top of Spigot’s config files VERY well and only adds its own tweaks for performance. Therefore, reverting to Spigot can likely be done immediately and the re-migrating back to Paper, if there is any delay from their release after Spigot’s, will be extremely straightforward.

That said, Spigot plugins are ALSO subject to waiting for the SpigotMC core release. And plugins are even less predictable than Spigot itself! With no sarcasm, it may be months of waiting for something like Dynmap or EssentialsX to become available. A bit of hunting for some hidden beta ore pre-releases of these plugins may be available somewhere, but it will be prudent to re-add them carefully.

So as soon as Spigot updates, the plan is to carefully follow the previous backup plan. One cannot be too careful with these sorts of things. It would be wise to first revert to Spigot/Paper, making sure the server is up to date, and starting it plugin-free. Once everything is started, it will be a fairly straightforward, though possibly lengthy process to re-download new versions of plugins, load them in one at a time, restart the server, verify that they work, all of that.

Dynmap with the new Nether

This is gonna be nasty. With so many new blocks and new terrains I have very low hopes that Dynmap’s developers will be able to get something out very fast. From my sketchy knowledge of how Dynmap works, they will probably want to generate new shaders for the nether, and possibly new perspectives given that the nether is now more honeycombed than ever before, what with “vertical biomes” having been introduced.

The v0.3 branch is their default, and there seems to be no other one that has any recent developments or any telltale naming that would indicate one could self-compile it for 1.16. However, when it does finally become available, I’ve written a gist that explains my techniques of mapping the Nether Roof which also has a few steps on how to re-render an entire map from scratch, make changes in situ, cancel and re-start a render again.


Not much of a conclusion, as I’m only halfway through this process at the moment. I want to give SpigotMC a chance to become updated before I go whole hog and run this thing from Vanilla for the next week and a half. If they I don’t have a good, solid server version from Spigot or Paper, I will plan on switching temporarily to Vanilla.

Games Life Web Writing


I just finished listening to NoDumbQuestionsEpisode 53 – What Would Happen Every Time You Restarted Earth? I have to say, the discussion definitely got me onto two things which I briefly mentioned in my comment on Reddit (I don’t know if my thoughts will take off at this point, but I wanted to put them out there).