A virtual private server (VPS) is a virtual computer that you can rent and access remotely. For a small fee, a VPS provides a reliable platform to run your forex strategies 24/5.
This post will help you:
- Decide whether you need a forex VPS
- Select an optimal VPS
- Maximize your VPS performance
- Create a portable MT4 installation
A big advantage of algorithmic trading is the ability to simultaneously trade a large number of strategies around the clock.
But these strategies are only as reliable as the computer you trade them on.
A forex VPS has become a permanent staple in my trading toolbox. I have a VPS with FXVM, with about 70 strategies (also called expert advisors) running across numerous live and demo MT4 accounts.
Should you jump onto the VPS bandwagon too? Let me explain.
Do You Need a Forex VPS?
Your automated strategies are stored on the client side, meaning your MT4 terminal needs to be running for your strategies to function.
You could leave your personal computer on throughout the day, and hope nothing happens to it. I’d rather not live with the anxiety.
I highly recommend a forex VPS if you have any of the following:
- High Trading Volume
You may have a large number of strategies, or strategies that trade frequently. In either case, MT4 uptime is critical.
If your MT4 disconnects, no additional orders can be placed, and open trades will be left hanging.
- High-speed Scalping Strategies
Low latency is usually important for such strategies. To achieve this, you’ll want your MT4 terminal to be located as close as possible to your broker’s server.
Many forex VPS providers are located directly adjacent to major financial data networks in New York and London. They can achieve latencies as low as 0.1 ms.
- An Unreliable Internet Connection or Power Supply
We’ve all had that frustrating experience where the power or internet went out, and there was little we could do about it.
VPS servers are located in secure data centres. They have backup servers and power supplies, and backups for the backups…you get the idea.
If you’re still unsure whether you should get a forex VPS, I suggest trying it out for a couple months. At under USD 20/month, the peace of mind is certainly worth the price.
Key Forex VPS Features
When selecting a VPS, the following are some key considerations:
1. CPU & RAM Resources
Running dozens of MT4 expert advisors can be resource-intensive. Your CPU and RAM requirements will depend on:
- The number of MT4 terminals running
- The number of open charts and incoming price feeds (in Market Watch window)
- The number of expert advisors and indicators running
- Your expert advisors’ trading frequency
- How well-optimized your expert advisors are
For each VPS plan, FXVM offers an estimate of the optimal number of MT4 terminals.
I recommend starting with a conservative (more resources) plan and monitoring your VPS performance over a few trading sessions.
Pay attention to your VPS’ Windows Task Manager during the most active market hours. This is usually the overlap between the London and New York sessions.
You may need an upgrade if your CPU usage is consistently above 80%. It is not uncommon to experience resource usage spikes during the busiest market hours.
Your available RAM should also remain above 150 MB.
Years ago I made the mistake of cramming MT4 terminals into my forex VPS. It worked fine during the Asian hours but would intermittently freeze once London opened, leaving my trades unmanaged.
Do inquire about your VPS provider’s upgrade/downgrade policy. You may need some tweaking to find that sweet spot.
2. VPS Server Location
Minimize latency by picking a forex VPS that is close to your broker’s severs. Faster execution means you are likely to get your order filled before other traders competing for the same price.
This is especially important if your strategy:
- Is sensitive to slippage
- Has a small average trade
- Trades frequently
Most scalpers have those characteristics.
With my Global Prime brokerage account and FXVM New York VPS, latencies are typically 1.0 ms.
3. Customer Support
Don’t take any chances when real money is on the line.
You should expect 24/7 live chat support to help with issues ranging from runtime errors to software installation.
When I discovered the aforementioned MT4 freezing problem, customer support helped me pinpoint the problem and do a reboot within 10 minutes.
4. MT4 Automatic Startup
In the very unlikely event of a VPS reboot during market hours, you want your MT4 terminals to start automatically so trading can resume.
Over the past 5 years, this has happened to me once.
Or if you do a Windows update over the weekend, having MT4 restart automatically can save you some time.
Look for a forex VPS that comes equipped with a lightweight MT4 startup program.
5. Easy Accessibility
Knowing you can access your VPS from multiple devices certainly gives you peace of mind.
I access my VPS via Remote Desktop Connection, which is readily available on desktop, laptop and phone.
Maximizing Your Forex VPS Performance
To get the most bang for your buck, you should run your MT4 terminals as lean as possible.
You can minimize CPU and RAM usage with the following tips:
1. Close Unnecessary Charts
This is important since the rendering of new bars consumes the bulk of VPS resources.
I only keep a chart open if I am actively trading it with an expert advisor. I also have an additional low volatility chart where I attach my myfxbook expert advisor for monitoring purposes.
2. Reduce Chart Bars
Since you won’t be trading manually, you should minimize the number of bars on your open charts.
- Open up the Options (Ctrl+O).
- Click on the Charts tab.
- Uncheck all 6 boxes.
- Change Max bars in history and Max bars in chart to 1.
3. Hide Unnecessary Symbols
Reduce incoming price feeds by hiding unnecessary symbols in the Market Watch (Ctrl+M) window.
Right click on the unwanted symbol and Hide it.
4. Disable News
MT4 offers a new feed that you can access via the Terminal (Ctrl+T) window.
Since this incoming news should not impact your trading decisions, you can reduce network usage by disabling news.
Head over to Options (Ctrl+O) and click on the Server tab. Then uncheck Enable news.
There are expert advisors that apply news filters; these are synced to news calendars and turn trading on/off whenever news is released. Nonetheless, this MT4 news feed is separate and should have no impact on your preprogrammed trading logic.
5. Disable Sounds
Lastly, you can disable MT4’s default sounds by heading over to Options (Ctrl+O) and clicking on the Events tab. Uncheck the Enable box.
Bonus Tip: Make Your MT4 Portable
If you decide to use a forex VPS, you may need to transfer your MT4 installation to the server. This is where a portable MT4 will come in handy.
By default, the MT4 installation folder and data folder are in two different locations.
The installation folder is the path you specified under Settings when installing MT4.
You can find the location of your data folder by opening MT4 and clicking File > Open Data Folder.
The default location will be C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\MetaQuotes\Terminal\[32 character name].
Each MT4 data folder will have a different 32-character name. If you have multiple MT4 installations, it can be difficult to figure out which is which.
This is pretty cumbersome file management.
With a portable MT4, your installation and data folders are merged into a single folder. This means you can:
- Conveniently transfer your MT4 terminal across different computers
- Run MT4 from a USB stick or cloud drive without any installation
- Keep all settings (profiles, expert advisors, indicators etc.) synchronized
How to Create a Portable MT4
Head to your MT4 Installation folder (not data folder). If you’re not sure where this is, right click on the MT4 icon on your desktop and select Open File Location. You should get the following window:
The MQL4 folder above is where all your expert advisors and indicators are kept. Right now it’s almost empty because these files are located in the data folder. With a portable MT4, all your MQL4 files will be located here.
Now right click on terminal.exe and select Create shortcut.
Right click on the shortcut you just created and select Properties.
In the Properties window, in the Target field, add a /portable to the end of the file path. Add a space before the slash. Click OK.
Rename the new shortcut to avoid confusion. Close your MT4 if it’s open, then double click the new shortcut to reopen MT4 in portable mode.
After MT4 starts, head to your data folder once again by clicking on File > Open Data Folder.
You will notice that your MT4 installation folder opens. All your MT4 files will henceforth be located in this folder. There are also two new subfolders: logs and tester.
Most importantly, your expert advisors and indicators will be located in the MQL4 subfolder.
That’s it! To transfer your MT4 to your forex VPS or USB device, simply copy your entire MT4 installation folder.
If you decide to make your MT4 portable, it’s best to do it as early as possible, because your experts and indicators in the original MQL4 folder may not be automatically transferred to the portable MQL4 folder.
If you’re a forex trader with automated strategies running 24/5, the thought of renting a forex VPS has probably crossed your mind.
Hopefully this article has shown you how to select an optimal VPS, and how to maximize its MT4 performance.
If you decide to get a forex VPS, why not check out FXVM?
I’ve been using them for over 5 years and have never had a problem. You can get a 7-day full functionality trial at only USD 0.99.
If you wish to purchase a plan, click the banner below and select from one of their VPS plans. You can further customize your VPS to meet your trading needs.