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Does Minecraft only talk to it's online server to authenticate you have a premium account? Does it not talk to it after it has authenticated? Or does it do something else online?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

In a blog post Notch talks about the problems his server is having. These seem to be purely related to the registration process. And possibly the downloads of the game.

When the server went down at the end of August/beginning of September the kids were able to play the game quite happily. There was also a "free weekend" where you could download and play without registration - again implying that it's only authentication.

Obviously, if you're playing a multiplayer game you will be in constant contact with the server hosting the map!

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That post is almost 2 months old - he's replaced the old server now. That's actually why that free weekend occurred. Also, the registration server is the same as the authentication server, so if it goes down you cannot do either (the downloads have not been hosted there since the free weekend, they are now on Amazon S3) – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Oct 19 '10 at 16:32
@BlueRaja - I just used the post as evidence that the program only connects to the server to register/on startup. – ChrisF Oct 19 '10 at 16:35
And, as I mentioned, any time you connect to a server. You can verify this by starting up the game, changing your skin on the website, and joining a server. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Oct 19 '10 at 16:46

Your game gets authenticated when you attempt to start the game, and every time you try to join a server. I believe Notch has stated this is just to download your custom skin, but I can't seem find the reference for this.

As a sidenote, your password gets sent in cleartext everytime you authenticate. Notch has stated he will fix this soon (I would guess on the halloween update)

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Only if the server has authentication turned on. – Broam Feb 6 '12 at 13:02

Also, when you press F3+S in-game the sounds are reloaded from the server.

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