Amazon makes it possible to try their cloud servers for a year for free. This article shows you how to take full advantage of this offer and use it for a Metatrader setup in the Cloud.
What is a VPS?
VPS stands for 'Virtual Private Server'. This is a service provided by a hosting provider, where a fraction of a large physical network server in a datacenter is rented and set up as a single network server with its own dedicated Operating System.
You get a lot of the benefits a dedicated server would provide, but because cost and capacity are split - cost is a lot lower than renting a dedicated server. Contrary to a Cloud Storage solution like eg. Dropbox, you get a virtual operating system or 'machine' you can log on to remotely - hereby the name: 'Virtual Private Server'. This makes it possible to install and run the software as you would on your regular desktop computer. In other words, you get both storage and computing power in the cloud.
There is a lot of possibilities with a VPS - but this article is limited to the advantages seen when paired specifically with the Metatrader trading software.
So why do I need a VPS anyway?
A MetaTrader VPS does provide a few advantages to forex traders.
Choosing a Server located close to your broker will normally result in faster execution times. If you want to optimize this part it is possible to download an EA for Metatrader to test latency. Ideally, this should be below 5 ms.
I run my VPS from London to minimize latency with my broker located in the UK.
Another great thing about running a Metatrader from a VPS is that you can just as easily trade from a Mac as a Windows PC. You can even access the VPS from your smartPhone. This isn’t ideal but can be a real lifesaver when other options don’t exist.
The last huge advantage is that you can leave MetaTrader running 24/7 on your VPS and let EA’s (Expert Advisors) handle semi-automated tasks when you are away from your PC. Examples of tasks that EA’s can handle are: Taking partial profits at predefined levels, trailing stops, or moving your Stop Loss to brake-even.
Is AWS free to use?
Yes and no! When signing up for Amazon Web Services you get various free offers included with the service. For this particular use, we need the Amazon EC2 Compute capacity which is limited to 12 Months of Free Access. Furthermore, the offer is limited to 750 hours/month equivalent to one machine running around the clock every month for a year- still pretty awesome if you ask me!
You need to register a credit card to take advantage of this offer. Please be aware that your card will be charged if you do exceed the monthly free tier limit. Furthermore, the plan will automatically continue as a paid plan when the full year has passed.
Setting up the VPS.
AWS has a lot of possibilities - making it a bit intimidating at first - especially if you do not have a background in software development.
Fortunately, it isn’t complicated to set up VPS for Metatrader - these steps will take you through the full setup:
- Start by going to AWS Free Tier and click “Create a Free Account”.
- Enter your Email address, password, confirm the password, and choose an account name. Click “Continue”.
- Choose “personal” under “account type” choose your country of residence and enter your address. The next steps include verifying your identity and registering a credit card - everything should be quite straightforward.
- On the page “Select a Support Plan” click on “Free”.
- You are now greeted by the “Welcome to Amazon Web Services” banner. Click “Sign In to the Console”.
- In the Sign In window select “Root user”, enter the Email-address used for signing up for AWS and click “Next”. Confirm your password in the next step.
- You are now inside the “AWS Management Console”. Select “Launch a virtual machine“.
- Step 1: Choose an Amazon Machine Image (AMI). Start off by choosing a server as close to your broker as possible in the upper right corner next to your account name. This will probably be set to “Ohio” by default. I chose a London based server to ensure fast trade executions with my UK broker.
Next, choose your Operating Systems. Linux is great, but to keep things simple go with a Windows server. Choose “AWS_Microsoft_Windows_Server_2019_base” - this should be marked: “Free tier eligible”. Click the blue “Select” button.
- Step 2: Choose an Instance Type. This should be fairly straightforward: Select the option marked “Free tier eligible” and click “Review and Launch”.
- Step 7: Review Instance Launch. This step is just a review of everything entered. Click “Launch” in the lower right corner to launch the VPS.
- Select an existing key pair or create a new key pair. In this dialog, you need to create a key pair *.pem file needed to sign onto your VPS. Select “create key pair” and give the key pair a name - then download the key pair file and save it in a safe location - you need it later to access the VPS. Press “Launch Instances”.
- You are now in the EC2 dashboard and should see your newly created instance initializing. Wait for the “Instance state” to change to “running” with a green indicator next to it. Furthermore, the instance needs to perform 2 status checks before it’s ready to use. Wait for “status checks” to change into “2/2 checks passed” indicated with a green checkmark.
- Right-click your instance and select “Connect”.
- In the “Connect to your instance” dialog. Set “connection method” to “A standalone RDP client” and press “Download Remote Desktop File”. The remote desktop file is used to connect to your VPS.
PLEASE NOTE: Mac users should download the Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Mac App store instead: here
I simply placed the file on my Windows PC desktop and renamed it “Rookie VPS” for an easy connection to my Metatrader Server.
- Now click “get password” and then “Choose File” to select the key pair *.pem you created earlier. Once the file is loaded click “Decrypt Password”. You can now copy the password to your clipboard.
- Now click the Remote desktop file from your desktop. You will now be prompted for the password - simply paste it from your clipboard and ask Windows to remember it for future use.
After this, you will most likely be prompted with another dialog stating that the remote computer cannot be verified. This is perfectly normal. Just check “Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer” and click “YES”.
- Your remote desktop will now load in the Remote desktop client. This will normally take a bit of time on your first run because a few files need to be initialized - but on subsequent connections, this is usually really fast.
- I use Dropbox to run my MetaTrader Platform in portable mode. This way Metatrader settings are always backed up, and it is really easy to switch to a different VPS at a later stage. Please refer to this article for a complete guide on the setup process for Metatrader in Portable mode.
Open Internet Explorer on your remote desktop. Internet Explorer is configured with Enhanced Security Configuration by default - so you will not be able to download Dropbox just yet.
- Click on the small “gear icon” in the upper right corner of Internet Explorer and select “Internet options”. Select the “Security” tab. Select “Internet” under “Select a zone to view or change security settings” and click “Custom Level…
- Scroll down to “Downloads” > ”File download” and enable file download. Confirm by clicking “OK” twice.
- Now copy this internet address into Internet Explorer to download the Dropbox Desktop App for Windows directly: https://www.dropbox.com/download?os=win
Once the file has downloaded you can run it directly from Internet Explorer and Install the Dropbox Desktop App.
- Once the Dropbox app is installed you simply log in to Dropbox and let it sync your files. When Dropbox is up and running go to your Metatrader folder, right-click on the “terminal” application, and select copy. Go to the desktop, right-click and select “paste shortcut”.
If you want to you can now rename the shortcut and even change the Icon by right-clicking the shortcut > Properties. Here you click “Change Icon” and browse the “terminal.ico” file in your MetaTrader folder on Dropbox to attach your brokers Metatrader Icon.
All SET! You can now run Metatrader around the Clock from your VPS without ever shutting it down for a full year - free of charge!
Please NOTE! The AWS Free tier offer is only valid for one year, after this, you will be automatically charged from your credit card. Furthermore, you WILL be charged if you do exceed the monthly free tier limits.
Fortunately, Amazon provides a thorough guide on how to set up email alerts if the free tier limit is exceeded. Please visit Amazon's documentation here to get started: Tracking your Free Tier usage
Are there any free alternatives to Amazon Web Services?
I have previously used the Google Cloud platform for a free VPS setup. This worked well, but Google recently decided to exclude any Windows virtual machines from their free offer.
Although you technically can run Metatrader on a Linux server, this is a rather complicated setup for the average MetaTrader user. But if you do have Linux experience, Google Cloud platform does offer a one year or $300 free period for you to use their servers for a free VPS setup similar to AWS.
You can go directly to the free trial registration page here: Google Cloud Free Trial
How reliable are Amazon Web services?
Well, nothing is perfect, but AWS EC2 is a very stable option that generally receives great reviews and comments about how reliable it is. But please always take care and set stop losses when trading - do not rely solely on expert advisors inside MetaTrader to handle your trades - this could be disastrous in the event of VPS downtime!
Access the VPS from your phone
Sometimes it’s just nice to have the ability to access Metatrader from your phone. The Metatrader App is great, but if you want to make adjustments to EA’s, restart Metatrader on your server or make adjustments on the fly, direct access to the VPS will come in handy!
Android users can download the remote desktop client from Google Play while
iPhone or iPad users can download it from Apple App Store
Do yourself a favor, and make sure you can access your VPS from your phone before something goes wrong and you need the option in a hurry.
It’s always really nice to have a second option, in terms of VPS access, if something should go wrong with your normal desktop setup.
So, do you run Metatrader on a VPS - and do you have any tips you would like to share?
Feel free to comment down below!
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