How to Set Up Your Own Discord Chat Server

Discord is an excellent, free chat application that was built for gamers, but is useful for anyone. It comes with Slack-style text chat, group voice chat channels, and plenty of tools to manage your users. It’s a great tool for getting a community together or talking with friends while you play games. Here’s how to set up your own server.

What Is Discord?

Discord is a lot like Slack with some extra features that are designed to help gamers…but honestly, it’s a great chat program all around. Regular text chat channels work a lot like classic IRC-style chat rooms. Anyone (with permission) can enter a room and talk or use slash commands. Discord also offers voice channels that members of the server can drop into to talk with other members using a headset. So, for example, you could set up a server for your gaming buddies, then create a voice chat channel for Overwatch, Destiny, and Minecraft. Hop in the appropriate channel, and you can talk with anyone playing that game without disturbing your friends who are in a different game. No worrying about invites or creating a new group chat every single time you play.

Currently, it’s free to set up a Discord server and there are no limits to the number of users, channels, or even servers you can create. (Discord has information on how it makes money here.) There are already thousands of existing Discord servers for all kinds of communities and groups that you can browse here (note: some may be NSFW). Whether you want a place for your friends to chat while playing Overwatch, or if you want to build a community of thousands of people around your hobby of extreme ironing, you can create a server for your needs.

How to Create a Discord Server

We’ll be demonstrating on the desktop version of the Discord app, but the steps should be largely the same on mobile as well. To create your own server, open the Discord app (if you don’t have it, download it here) and create an account if you don’t already have one. Then, click the plus icon in a circle in the server selection column on the left side of the screen.

Click “Create a Server” on the left.

Give your server a name under Server Name.

Optionally, click the circle on the right to upload a thumbnail picture to represent your server. If you join several servers, this will be the primary way you distinguish between them, so pick something unique that identifies your server at a glance.

Once you’ve made all your decisions, click Create at the bottom of the window.

That’s all it takes! Just a few short clicks and you have your very own Discord server.

Now that you’ve created your server, you’ll want to make it feel like home. Start by inviting friends to join you. Hover over any text or voice channel and click the Create Instant Invite icon.

In the window that pops up, you’ll get a temporary invitation link. Copy this and share it to anyone you want to add to your server. If they don’t already have a Discord account, they’ll be prompted to create one when they sign up. By default, these invitations will expire after one day. If you click the gear icon, you can change how long until they expire, and even limit how many users can use a link.

You can also add all the text and voice chat channels you need by clicking the plus sign next to each section in the channels column on the left hand side of the app.

Discord has a lot more to offer than we can cover in a single article, but with your own server you’re ready to start chatting with your team wherever and however works best for you.

Eric Ravenscraft covers smarthome tech for How-To Geek. He's a problem solver who never learned to say no to a project. When he's not fixing things, he's cosplaying at cons, playing video games, and watching too many comic book movies. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.