Lets face it: Even though MetaTrader 4 is ancient, old and dusty, a lot of brokers still use this trusty old piece of software. This guide helps you make a portable version to use on different pc's or in the cloud.
Bringing a dated piece of software back to life
No doubt about it: MetaTrader 4 trading software is old! It was initially released back in 2005 and was abandoned a long time ago by it's developer MetaQuotes Software.
However, that doesn't prevent it from still being offered by a lot of forex brokers around the world. This is mainly due to its huge offering of custom indicators and automated trading strategies using expert advisors, developed by users around the world.
What is portable mode?
Portable mode simply means that Metatrader is installed and run from a remote location, either a Cloud drive or a USB stick. The obvious advantage is that you can use Metatrader on different computers and keep all settings synchronized.
There are different options when it comes to file hosting services offering cloud storage. My preferred option for this purpose is to use a free basic Dropbox account with 2 GB of free storage.
Setting up Dropbox on a Windows10 PC will create a dropbox folder by default on your computer making it perfect for this use! If you are not already a Dropbox user, you can sign up for a free account here: Dropbox
Setting up a portable version of Metatrader 4 is fortunately quite straight forward. Follow these steps and you should be ready to trade from any location in no time:
- Start off by installing a fresh version of the MT4 platform provided by your broker (If you haven’t done so already). A clean unused installation is preferable, otherwise, you have to move any settings files manually afterwards, if the software was used for trading before setting up portable mode.
- The installation guide should create an icon on your desktop, right-click it, and select “Properties”.
In the “Target” field, go to the very end of it and add ” /portable” (written without quotation marks and with a space in front of it. Leave the quotation marks around the original target - see screenshot). Confirm changes with OK.
Right-click the “shortcut” again and select “Run as administrator”. Windows will now prompt you to allow access to the software “Client terminal”. Select “Yes” to continue.
- The MT4 platform will now open in portable mode. This means that a new directory named “MQL4” is created within the MT4 folder, and all user-files previously stored under user-settings in Windows (indicators/EAs/libraries/etc) are now moved to this folder. When Metatrader has fully loaded - just close it down again.
Right-click the desktop icon and select “Open file location”. This should bring you to the MT4 installation with various directories (config/history/logs… etc).
Now go one level up in the file system by clicking the “up to…” arrow (see screenshot).
- You can now move the Metatrader folder to a USB drive or to your Dropbox folder.
- Open the Metatrader folder from its new location, right-click “terminal.exe” and select copy. Go to your desktop, right-click, and select “paste shortcut”.
- Right-click the newly created shortcut, select “rename” and rename it as you prefer.
- Right-click the newly created shortcut and select “Properties”. Click “change icon”. In the “change icon” dialog choose “Browse”. In the newly opened “change icon dialog” you can now browse the “MT4 folder” and select the “terminal.ico” file. Confirm with “open” and then OK twice to add the default icon to the newly created shortcut.
There you go! Everything set to start trading!
You can now repeat steps 9-11 again from any pc that should have access to the remote Metatrader installation. Remember to start off by installing Dropbox, to gain access to the newly created cloud storage folder - containing the Metatrader portable installation.
Limitations of the portable installation
The only major drawback of this portable installation is that it really isn’t suitable for use on more than one computer at the same time.
Running Metatrader on more than one PC simultaneously will result in duplicate files and the installation folder gets really messy fast!
To avoid duplicated files and a really messy installation it is crucial that you always close down Metatrader 4 after use. This way you will avoid accidentally opening the software from 2 different computers at the same time.
Using a free Dropbox account furthermore limits your installation to 2 GB of data. This is not a problem under most circumstances, but if you are downloading a lot of historical data for backtesting you might run into limitations on a free account. In this case, you can always buy one of the Dropbox premium plans or choose a different file hosting service as a workaround.
What do you think?
Do you run Metatrader on a portable installation?
Have you experienced any problems with this setup?
Have you any experience running a portable installation with a different file hosting service?
Leave a comment down below to share your thoughts!