One of the annoying costs involved when you become “semi” serious about trading Forex Robot’s (aka expert advisors or EA’s for short) is the cost of your Virtual Private Server (VPS). Ideally, we’d all like to start trading on a free VPS and when we find a profitable EA happily start paying for the VPS. Well, that could now be the case – just keep reading!
VPS costs usually start at around $200 USD per year and can rise sharply if you need more power and want to run more than one or two MetaTrader 4 (MT4) terminals simultaneously. I’ve been running my suite of EA’s at SWVPS for some time now and apart from a couple of hiccups here and there it’s been a pleasant experience. It wasn’t until last week I stumbled upon a way to create a free VPS that could accommodate 1-2 (possibly more) MT4 terminals that won’t cost a dime!
Not just a free Forex VPS… there’s more!
Today, I’ll explain how you go about creating yourself a free Forex VPS, and what’s more… you can do it in minutes and easily change the server location to be closer to your brokers server which will reduce the latency and hence increase the trade execution speed. Yes, sounds too good to be true… well in this case it isn’t mostly. There is one catch. You only get the first 12 months free, then you have to pay for it… but looking at the pricing for the tier above ($175 per year) it’ll most likely be cheaper than anything you could buy elsewhere.
Step 1. Create your Amazon (AWS) account
If you’ve been living under a rock (or you’re just not technically minded)… a few years ago Amazon decided to utilize the redundant space in their server infrastructure by opening it up to the world and providing cloud computing on a pay what you use model – which ultimately gave the user complete flexibility so they could effectively run their own hosting environment ( just like godaddy or host gator).
Part of their pricing model is to offer the least powerful hosting option for free (see where I’m headed?).
So, your first step is to open an account with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and follow the steps to activate the account.
Step 2. Create an Instance
This step threw me for a long time until a friend walked me through it.
If you’re familiar with setting up a standard website on a web host, you’ll find the terminology weird, but it’s essentially the same thing except Amazon have used their own terms instead of terms you and I would understand. An “Instance” for example is effectively another name for a server. We want to create a Window’s Instance so that we can run an MT4 terminal on it and install EA’s.
Go to the AWS Console here and click EC2, see below:
You’ll then be shown plenty of options to bamboozle you. What you want to do is click the “Launch Instance” button shown below:
A popup will appear. Here you should leave “Classic Wizard” selected and click Continue:
Next step is to choose an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) which is basically a blueprint of a standard server, e.g. Windows 2008 Server. This step is important as it allows you to setup the free VPS option. I recommend scrolling down the list and selecting “Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Base”:
On the next screen, it should default to the Free Tier, i.e. the option you don’t have to pay for. To make sure it is, simply click the drop down next to “Instance Type” and click the “Free tier eligible” option:
Now, keep clicking “Continue” until you get to the “Create Key Pair” screen. Select the “Create a new Key Pair” option, enter any name for your Key Pair, e.g. yournamekey, then click “Create & Download your Key Pair”. This will save the file on your PC.
The Key Pair basically prevents others from guessing/accessing your server password. This step looks like this:
Click “Continue” once again and then “Launch” on the next screen. Your Instance has now been created and you can close down the “Classic Wizard”.
Step 3. Retrieving your Instance login details
You should then see the Instance going through it’s “Initializing” phase (see below). Refresh the page to see if it has finished initializing and has started running.
When the “State” says “running” with a green circle next to it, Right Click on the Instance row to reveal a drop down menu. Click “Connect” which should be the first option on the menu:
A popup will appear (see below) showing your Public DNS and Username. The next step is to retrieve your password. To do this click the Retrieve Password link.
The screen will change (see below) and ask you for the Pair Key you setup earlier. You have two options here. The simplest is to click Choose File and navigate to the Pair Key file you downloaded earlier (it’s file extension will be .pem) then open it.
Doing this will extract the contents of the file into the “Private Key contents” field. Alternatively, you can open the .pem file in Notepad and copy and paste the content into the field. Either way, the end result will look something like this:
Click “Decrypt Password” and a new screen will be displayed with your password. Now you have enough information to access your server via Remote Desktop Connection (RDC).
Step 4. Accessing your Free VPS
If you’re familiar with connecting to a VPS then you should know the steps that follow. If not, I’ll explain them for those that aren’t familiar below.
On Windows, click Start and type the word “Remote” into the program search box, here you should see a program called “Remote Desktop Connection”. Open it and paste in your “Public DNS” as shown in the AWS console above. Click “Connect” and you’ll be prompted for your AWS password. Copy and Paste this in from the AWS console as well. The next step will log you into your VPS where you can install your MT4 terminals like you would on your PC (just copy and paste the .exe file from your desktop into the Remote desktop.
And that’s it! You now have a free Fx VPS!!
Some final considerations…
As this is something I have only been using for a week or so as I write this, I’m unsure of how Amazon will determine their pricing on an ongoing basis. From what I can see so far (with just one MT4 terminal running one chart 24/7) there are no charges being applied to my account for data transfer usage.
As mentioned earlier, the free offer is currently set for a 12 month period. After this you’ll be expected to pay for it, but it should be cheaper than most (if not all) of the other options out there. I guess we’ll see in a year! Which leaves this as a great way to get started with a VPS if you don’t want to commit just yet.