Question about setting up a VPS at home

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master_dude 2015.07.01 09:59
 

dear fellow traders!

 I am in the process of setting up a VPS at home. Something along the lines of what this guy is describing:  http://www.tradingheroes.com/how-to-build-your-own-low-cost-metatrader-virtual-private-server-vps/

 However, I am not completely  sure as of what I will need in terms of computer power and specs... Saw on a programming forum that RAM is important. How important is a large hard drive for downloading historical data for backtests?  How powerful should the computer be?

 I am still relatively new to trading with EAs but expect to be expanding and thus having several MT4 running at the same time, trading and testing... So this is what the computer needs to be able to handle... 

 Hope you guys can help me out! 

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jjc 2015.07.01 11:16 #
 
master_dude:

 I am in the process of setting up a VPS at home. Something along the lines of what this guy is describing:  http://www.tradingheroes.com/how-to-build-your-own-low-cost-metatrader-virtual-private-server-vps/

The whole idea of a VPS "at home" is slightly perverse. Half the point of a VPS is that you are paying for a more reliable infrastructure than you have at home: more reliable internet connectivity, more reliable power supply etc. Incidentally, the article you are quoting doesn't add in the electricity costs of running a machine at home.

The figure of $74.95pm is, as he says, hugely inflated. Perfectly usable services are available for $30pm or less. (Compared to running a machine at home, that's a price differential of $20pm or even less after deducting domestic electricity costs.) If you can't afford that, then you probably need to think very, very carefully about whether you should get involved in the high-risk area of fx trading.

It would be more normal to do the backtesting - a relatively occasional, resource-intensive activity - on a home machine, and to use the VPS only for live trading. A virtual server which is suitable for running backtests will indeed be expensive.

If you want to try things out, then you can start with a service such as Amazon EC2 where you pay solely per hour of usage, with no longer-term charges or commitments. An EC2 t2.micro instance should cost somewhere in the region of $30pm, and there's also a "free tier" for new customers which reduces that charge. If you want to get cute, you can reduce your charges further by turning the virtual machine off at the weekends when it's not going to be trading. (However, unless you do turn the machine off two days per week, the convenience of an hourly-billed service such as EC2 should eventually work out more expensive than an equivalent machine on a monthly-charge basis.) 

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ydrol 2015.07.01 11:17 #
 

VPS is about uptime. For Live Trading You need

- reliable internet backup. - either two permanent connections or Mobile Internet.  Traffic volumes are quite low I think so latter might do as a back up.

- fast execution (QOS) -  if rest of family are hammering internet at any point you want your Sell!Sell! packets to get through quickly.

-Deal with power outage (GSM Card + Laptop might cover it but .. laptops are not designed to be on all of the time,  - UPS is better )

Those are what a VPS buys you.

 

For fast Backtesting you just need Disk & CPU.

 

Two different requirements. Ram helps both. 

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master_dude 2015.07.01 11:57 #
 
jjc:

The whole idea of a VPS "at home" is slightly perverse. Half the point of a VPS is that you are paying for a more reliable infrastructure than you have at home: more reliable internet connectivity, more reliable power supply etc. Incidentally, the article you are quoting doesn't add in the electricity costs of running a machine at home.

The figure of $74.95pm is, as he says, hugely inflated. Perfectly usable services are available for $30pm or less. (Compared to running a machine at home, that's a price differential of $20pm or even less after deducting domestic electricity costs.) If you can't afford that, then you probably need to think very, very carefully about whether you should get involved in the high-risk area of fx trading.

It would be more normal to do the backtesting - a relatively occasional, resource-intensive activity - on a home machine, and to use the VPS only for live trading. A virtual server which is suitable for running backtests will indeed be expensive.

If you want to try things out, then you can start with a service such as Amazon EC2 where you pay solely per hour of usage, with no longer-term charges or commitments. An EC2 t2.micro instance should cost somewhere in the region of $30pm, and there's also a "free tier" for new customers which reduces that charge. If you want to get cute, you can reduce your charges further by turning the virtual machine off at the weekends when it's not going to be trading. (However, unless you do turn the machine off two days per week, the convenience of an hourly-billed service such as EC2 should eventually work out more expensive than an equivalent machine on a monthly-charge basis.) 

hi thanks for your reply. i appreciate you providing good information pro using VPS as I need to get a better understanding of this service. one thing i did not mention in my post was that i have been advised against VPS services (at least when the services comes from a broker) as the provider will decompile, reverse engineer, and steal profitable EA's. So in order to protect a profitable system the argument goes: open your own VPS. what do you think about this? are there VPS services you can trust? i am not against the idea as such, but I am still new to EA trading and need to learn the basics...

you mention backtesting as a resource intensive activity. as i am in the period of development and testing i need to purchase a new computer. for backtesting and having multiple MT4s running with various EAs what do you need from a computer would you say? in terms of processor, hard drive and RAM etc?

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master_dude 2015.07.01 12:03 #
 
ydrol:

VPS is about uptime. For Live Trading You need

- reliable internet backup. - either two permanent connections or Mobile Internet.  Traffic volumes are quite low I think so latter might do as a back up.

- fast execution (QOS) -  if rest of family are hammering internet at any point you want your Sell!Sell! packets to get through quickly.

-Deal with power outage (GSM Card + Laptop might cover it but .. laptops are not designed to be on all of the time,  - UPS is better )

Those are what a VPS buys you.

 

For fast Backtesting you just need Disk & CPU.

 

Two different requirements. Ram helps both. 

thanks mate this is really good advice! i want to follow up on your on backtesting point. how much approx. CPU, RAM and hard drive do you need you think for backtesting and having multiple MT4s running with various EAs? could an average laptop do the job or should buy a more heavy duty machine? i have an option of getting a lenora 2.5ghz processor (can't remember which one) + 550GB harddrive + 4GB RAM for around 250 can't figure out if its overkill or too little really... price is 250€

 

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ydrol 2015.07.01 13:02 #
 

I'm not an expert on running heavy backtests with indicators etc. and haven't looked at any hardware prices for a while. Personally I'd split the work between MT instances running in different machines. Bang for buck is desktop - easier to repair too :)

Regarding "home VPS"  - you need UPS, QOS, Two Internet (home + Mobile) , two separate servers (main server + backup ) , a router that can manage QOS + transparent  ISP failover + Server failover (DDWRT etc), a backup router with same config , electricity costs. 

- if using netbooks/laptops check if they are designed to be on 24/7 - most aren't. 

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jjc 2015.07.01 13:44 #
 
master_dude:

 one thing i did not mention in my post was that i have been advised against VPS services (at least when the services comes from a broker) as the provider will decompile, reverse engineer, and steal profitable EA's. So in order to protect a profitable system the argument goes: open your own VPS. what do you think about this? are there VPS services you can trust? i am not against the idea as such, but I am still new to EA trading and need to learn the basics...

As far as I'm concerned, worrying about a VPS provider stealing your EA is right up there with lining your hat with tinfoil so that the government can't read your thoughts.

If you use one of the VPS firms who specifically market at the MT4 audience, then I suppose it's just about possible that they might try trawling customers' hard disks for EAs... but good luck to them in trying to determine the tiny number of valuable ones from the junk. It all reminds me of a conversation on this forum 6 years ago about the potential for MetaQuotes to steal EAs: https://forum.mql4.com/21555/page2#159379

But I wouldn't recommend one of the MT4-targeted VPS services over generic/untargeted services from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace, etc. The firms marketing to MT4 users might be able to provide a few fringe benefits such as MT4-specific support, but they're inevitably going to be relatively small, relatively under-capitalised, relatively under-resourced etc. If you want to banish any lingering concerns about the privacy of your EA, go to one of the large VPS providers who don't know what an EA is, and certainly don't care what an EA is.

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graziani 2015.07.01 17:00 #
 

For a small trader, any 'home VPS' will be good enough, even for more serious traders if there are SL and TP set for every order.

The main point of VPS is that it has redundant network connection, and that it can last for some time without power. Practically any laptop will be good enough as long as its battery can make it for some time (you are protecting yourself from short power outages, not from natural disasters), and you need to have at least one mobile i.e. 3G/4G connection (2G is not good enough), because that connection needs to work when there is a power outage. This 'VPS' is not intended for backtests but to be a device on which your EA will run uninterrupted and continuously, so there are no other requests on the capacity of the 'VPS' laptop.

The most complex thing you need to solve is how to make the two network connections work simultaneously, which is best to achieve by setting lower metrics for the favorable connection.

You can control your VPS using e.g. TeamViewer so there is no need for static IP.

Bonus is if you can get alerted when power fails and when your laptop is about to shutdown, but these two points are a little bit harder to achieve.

And BTW all my laptops work 24/7 (OK, i am turning them off sometimes ;) and last typically for 7 years. Of course, most of them are premium segment.

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MaryJane 2015.07.11 06:35 #
 
jjc: I wouldn't recommend one of the MT4-targeted VPS services over generic/untargeted services from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace, etc. The firms marketing to MT4 users might be able to provide a few fringe benefits such as MT4-specific support, but they're inevitably going to be relatively small, relatively under-capitalised, relatively under-resourced etc.

i dare to disagree.

for me, the most important benefit is colocation - almost all brokers have their servers located in either equinix NY4 or LD4 (being/soon to be expanded to newer equinix DCs) and the "firms marketing to MT4 users" differ from the generic/untargeted services precisely by the fact they have their physical hardware physically located at the mentioned datacenters.

equinix basically has a monopoly in this (financial firms interconnect) area.. they're a a wholesaler, not dealing in retail at all.

fx vps providers like beeks or cns have their hw located at equinix facilities.

google "equinix vps" - you'll only find forex related vps stuff in the results ;)

why do i have vps' rented @both NY4(beeks) and LD4(ultrafxvps)? Because i want low latency to my brokers (<1ms) - that's the SOLE reason for me.

otherwise, i would use some machine @home where i've got both ups and redundant net connections.. but i'd be 50ms far from LD and 90ms from NY instead of < 1ms/1ms ;)

Amazon/Microsoft/Rackspace can't supply me that latency.

and btw: i'm really not afraid about any1 stealing my precious EAs :-D...  btw2: i'm more than convinced they couldn't care less about the content of my drives ... btw3: even if i'd be paranoid, there are ways to prevent any peeks into your vps kitchen - you always get full control via the built-in administrator account, so just make use of it ;)

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jjc 2015.07.11 10:52 #
 
MaryJane:

i dare to disagree.

for me, the most important benefit is colocation - almost all brokers have their servers located in either equinix NY4 or LD4 (being/soon to be expanded to newer equinix DCs) and the "firms marketing to MT4 users" differ from the generic/untargeted services precisely by the fact they have their physical hardware physically located at the mentioned datacenters.

I can think of one firm in particular which markets their VPS services for MT4 based on latency to brokers' servers. They have been carrying the same marketing material since 2009 and, as a user of theirs at that time, I've argued with them very strongly (but good-humouredly) that the figures which they are choosing to publish say that their EA performance in different locations is random, with no discernible effect from latency.

I agree that latency may well make a difference if you are in NYC and your broker's servers are in Sydney, or vice versa.

But I am hugely sceptical that latency of 1ms between two machines in NY4 versus e.g. 6ms from a machine in Amazon's us-east datacentre to NY4 is going to make a difference if your trading system is written in MQL4 and placing its trades through an MT4 Server. If you are that concerned about latency, you are using the wrong trading platform. The benefits of something like a direct connection over FIX, going directly into the broker's liquidity rather than the MT4 Server, would vastly outweigh these kinds of marginal difference in latency.

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WHRoeder 2015.07.11 16:34 #
 
  1. My latency at home is 400 to 3000ms depending on usage. I also get random 30 second dropouts as does everyone else in Brevard County (all traffic goes to Orlando.)
    I saw this while composing this post
  2. VPS is for low latency, and high reliability. One lightning strike, and down goes your Internet connection. You machine might have a UPS, but your network provider's routers don't. VPS at home is a useless box between your terminal and your provider's network backbone.
  3. A real VPS provide the high reliability. Latency is irrelevant when brokers can take several minutes to fill an order during new releases. Latency is irrelevant when brokers are filtering prices to below 10 per second.
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