Choosing and setting up your computers nicely: 10+ hours probably.
Setting up a private server: About the same, 2 to 10 hours depending on your options.
Installing smartphone apps: A few minutes each at most.
Your home PC or laptop
MetaTrader 4 runs on Windows XP onwards, so if you already run Windows and have a reasonably decent computer made in the last 3-5 years then you’re not going to need to think too much about that. You can run you’re charts from your PC and place trades with MetaTrader or a web browser if that’s what your broker offers.
Macs and Linux
For Mac users, there are a few options; a virtual operating system installed on your main one, we use Parallels for Mac and get pretty decent performance from that, and there’s also VMWare Fusion which does a similar thing. For Linux we hear WINE does the job but if you’re using Linux the chances are you’ll have solved the issue of running Windows software yourself.
Ultimately, if you’re serious about trading professionally and with a reliable setup, especially if you are going to be using any Expert Advisors to manage trades, then you’ll want to get yourself a virtual or cloud server running Windows Server, which nowadays will be version 2008 onwards.
It’s pretty easy to connect to your server with Microsoft’s Remote Desktop software and you can connect from any computer to see your setup exactly as you left it. The server setup is very handy if you want to connect from your home computer, laptop and/or work computer without having to install and manage your settings on each.
We use cloud servers from 1and1 Internet for many reasons:
- You can start with the base package, install all the software you need very quickly and leave it running 24/7 without worrying about power or internet connectivity, you are connected to the internet closer to the backbone and the server can collect data at 50MB+ connection speeds directly because the actual data doesn’t pass through your own connection.
- They are backed up and have hardware redundancy so guarantee 99.9% uptime.
- You can connect from any PC or Mac using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop or a VPN client – just put in the IP address, administrator username and your admin password and you’re connected.
- If you need more processing power, memory or hard drive space, you select it in your control panel, reboot and you have upgraded within minutes.
- The overall total cost of ownership is probably very similar to buying a new PC every 1-2 years but without ever needing to do the migration or having the vulnerabilities (fire, theft, power) that home connected computer has.
There are plenty of other solutions online for Virtual Private Servers (VPS), another one we like is Amazon’s Cloud servers but there are cheaper and sometimes free solutions available from brokers if you want to go down that road. Personally, we’re happy with 1and1 for price, performance and security so have stuck with that.
We recommend you need to have at least 10GB of space comfortably available for MetaTrader data and if you’re going to get into the advanced EA backtesting that we do then more like 100GB to 500GB, depending on how much testing you’ll be doing.
The latest processors in modern computers are all good and MetaTrader 4 can only use a single processor but having something over 2GHz is ideal for nice responsive switching between Profiles. If you’re going to be doing a lot of simultaneous backtesting then each MetaTrader 4 instance can use a different processor core so more will benefit you for that.
All modern operating systems nowadays require a lot of memory (RAM) to run lots of programs simultaneously and quickly so really 2GB should be a minimum and ideally 4GB+ should mean you’re not waiting for the computer to catch up with your clicks when you’re running lots of charts at once, because sods law dictates that it will only freeze when you’re trying to place or close a trade!
It is a myth that you need lots of screens to trade and watch all the market information and charts at once. You might like multiple monitors, perhaps if you use your computer for other things at the same time as well, but it really isn’t necessary.
We think that a desktop monitor of 20″ or more is nice to have but the way we trade and use MetaTrader charts to zoom in and out of price charts, we find that a 13″ MacBook has enough screen space to see all the information we need to see to analyse charts, place and manage trades. Its all about having a smart and flexible layout for your charts, which we’re here to help you with by using the flexibility of MetaTrader and its many handy little shortcuts and tricks.
As we have said above, we prefer a private server that has a very fast and direct permanent connection to the internet but most reliable home broadband connections are sufficient. Of course home connections nowadays aren’t always as reliable as providers market them to be, so certainly use your home connection to get started with but do consider the private server option for more back-up security and reliability when you’re trading with any amount of automation.
Unless you’re day-trading sat at your computer all day, you’ll certainly find it useful to have a smart phone with a few select apps installed to monitor charts, prices and manage trades.
We use iPhones but hear equally good things about the Android platform popular on Samsung and other smart phones. We certainly wouldn’t be without these apps now;
MetaTrader does excellent smartphone apps on iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile for quotes, charting and managing trades which is certainly with having if you have a MetaTrader broker as well.
Trade Interceptor is a great free app that we think has one of the neatest mobile charting systems we’ve seen.
Some other apps well worth having are;
OANDA mobile app for checking price movements over the weekend;
Dukascopy, both the Swiss Forex app for quote and news and, if you have an account, their SWFX Trader app;
IG Index‘s trading app if you have an account with them;