Free Amazon VPS Forex: Trader Beware!

Since publishing my video course on how to set up a Forex VPS I have been receiving lots of questions in regards to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Amazon VPS for trading. Example:

“What do you think about AWS? Do you think if it has enough ram to support three instances of mt4 at the same time with 10 ea working in each platform?”

– Lucas

Amazon offer the first year of their subscription for FREE, and this means that if Algorithmic traders deploy their Forex Robots at Amazon they save some cash on VPS hosting.

A lot of traders out there do recommend AWS. But I’m going to take a different stance: in this blog I will give you five reasons why you should NOT use Amazon VPS for Forex Trading, and hopefully save you lots of heartache and stoplosses.

Amazon VPS Forex

First things first, if you are not entirely familiar with AWS, let’s quickly cover that off. Here’s a quote from their website:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides trusted, cloud-based solutions to help you meet your business needs.

Here “cloud” is just a trendy term for describing IT solutions that are located off-premises, i.e. remote.

As this description suggests, the principal designation of AWS is to help businesses cut costs buy replacing expensive infrastructure (servers, cables, software, etc.) with cheap and highly scalable infrastructure in the cloud.

In my other life I’m a Data Scientist and I could go on about AWS and cloud IT forever 🙂 If you like, you can find out more info about AWS here: What Is AWS?

 

But what about Forex?

Well, one of the solutions that Amazon offers is the EC2 which is basically a VPS, and you can use it for many different things. Among them – for hosting your MetaTrader 4 trading terminals.

By the way, I’m assuming that if you are reading this article, you know how the whole Forex VPS story goes: you get a VPS, setup MT4, launch your EAs, they trade for you and make money. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, simply check out the 3-minute intro video to the Forex VPS course.

So this is what traders think: “I’ll get a Free VPS for 1 year from Amazon, host my EAs there, and save some cash.”

Sounds like a plan? NOT AT ALL!

 

Don’t mistake AWS for what it’s not

Okay, so here’s the hard truth:

Amazon Web Services is designed for businesses, and NOT for retail traders.

All of the incredible benefits of AWS like scalability, on-demand use, low cost – only work for enterprises. For you and me – nope. Not a good idea.

“Why?” You say. Here’s what we will do. I will give you a list of Pro’s and Con’s of using AWS for trading and then we’ll go through the items one-by-one.

 

Pro’s and Con’s of Amazon VPS in Forex Trading

Pro'sCon's
1st year freeNo support
No control
Only 1 GB Ram
After 1st year: pay-per-hour
Not cheap

 

1st year free

Yep. It’s free for the first year. But that’s the only advantage I can think of. Everything else – normal VPS providers have the same or even better.

Plus, if you are planning on trading Forex profitably, why would you want to save pennies? What’s a good VPS going to cost you these days? $30-$40 per month.

 

No support

Alright, we’re off to the cons.

BTW, I’m not just writing this up out of thin air. I actually went and got an AWS EC2 Server to use as a Forex VPS. Here it is:

My-Amazon-VPS-Forex

Launched beautifully the first time. I installed my MetaTrader 4 (didn’t want to install more than one right away given that RAM is scarce on these things), and began my what was supposed to be a month of testing.

Day 2, this happened:

Amazon-vps-error

I thought, okay. Sometimes happens. Will try again in an hour.

1 hour later: nope. Nothing.

Hmmmm… Must be a glitch, I’ll reboot the VPS and try again.

Still nothing.

Okay, this is not good. Looks like a serious problem, let me give support a call and see what’s going.

No phone number… Live chat maybe?

Nope. How about an email?

No? Can I at least submit a support ticket?

Still no…

And then it hit me! There is NO TECHNICAL SUPPORT AT ALL

To be fair, the support guys exist, but to get access to them, it will cost you:

AWS-Technical-Support-Pricing

Here the Developer level, only includes emails that are answered during “local business hours”.

That means if your server goes bonkers between 5pm–8am (let alone on the weekend!), you’re screwed.

 

No Control

Obviously, since this was a test I chose not get support. I decided to keep trying. Plus, for that same price I can get a much better paid VPS with outstanding support included.

I did that for a few days, nothing changed. I even launched a new VPS instance – couldn’t connect to that one at all.

Tried again a week later – nothing happened. Both instances were down.

To make sure that the fault is NOT on my side, I called up one of my friends and asked him to try from another computer in another country. Same result – no response from either of my two Amazon VPS Forex Servers.

Just for fun yesterday I created one more instance and checked it today, and it launched! Incredible! I wonder how long it will last… The other two are still down, even though AWS tells me that all three are running:

amazon vps forex failure

The worst in this whole situation is the feeling you get. Imagine: you have EA’s running on a live account trading with real money, you have not been able to log onto your server for 3 weeks, rebooting doesn’t help, there is no technical support, and as a bonus, the control panel sarcastically tells you “All good mate! Your instances are running”.

How would you feel? Powerless, perhaps? At least, you would not feel like you are in control of the situation.

With 2 out of 3 servers permanently down, level of control is definitely a problem.

 

Only 1GB Ram

Answering Lucas’ question from the start of this blog, I use the following calculations for VPS RAM:

  • Operating system: minimum 250mb
  • Each MetaTrader 4 platform: another 250mb
  • Emergency Ram: 500mb

With 3 MT4s you on 1GB Ram you would be scraping the pass mark, and that’s without budgeting in any reserve.

In this case Server Stability will depend on the EAs. If you ask me, 10 on each MetaTrader is a bit of a stretch for this type of server…

As soon as one of the Robots decides to run a demanding calculation, you’ll get a system overload, and… well, this is the point you will need to call support. Hold on! There is none: refer above (you’re screwed).

 

After 1st year: pay-per-hour

Assuming that everything goes well in the first year and you are extremely happy with the service you are getting, these are the prices that you will be looking at if you want to continue your lease:

AWS-forex-vps-pricing-plans

Source: http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/

First thing you notice is that you don’t pay per month, you pay per hour. Why is that?

Because AWS is designed for businesses. Allow me to elaborate.

You see, Data Scientists and Analysts alike use AWS to run complex regression models and all sorts of other analytics. The way these models work is they are computational-heavy, they run for a few days, but then they go to sleep until they are needed again.

This means that sometimes the IT infrastructure is needed, and sometimes – not. Paying per hour is very convenient in these cases, because you don’t have to pay for downtime. This is, hands down, one of the BIGGEST reasons why AWS is so lucrative… for businesses.

Alas, we as Forex Traders, cannot benefit from this advantage of AWS, because our servers have to be running 24/7.

Of course, you could argue that you would switch off your VPS over the weekends. But are you really going to do that EVERY weekend? Just to save a couple of bucks?

 

Not Cheap

Did you notice that every time I mentioned cost-effectiveness as being one of the advantages of AWS, I used italics?

That’s because it’s cheap for businesses relative to their on-premises ongoing IT costs. Not for retail traders.

Let’s have a look at the prices above…

As we discussed, 1GB is not a lot of RAM. Let’s say you want decent VPS Server for your Forex Robots and you choose to go with 4GB.

Okay, 7.2 cents/hour doesn’t sound like a lot. But, how much is that going to cost you per month?

7.2c x 24 x 30 = $52 / month

Doesn’t sound so little now, does it? Now check this out:

At PhotonVPS, which I recommend, for only $46 you get:

  • a 4GB Windows VPS; AND
  • a defined number of CPUs (not “Variable” like Amazon); AND
  • 24/7 support that are there to take care of you

For full disclosure, I am an affiliate for PhotonVPS. And that’s because I like their product, I use it myself, and I know it’s reliable. But you tell me – which do YOU think is a better deal?

Summary: Amazon VPS Forex

I don’t have anything against Amazon VPS, I think they are doing a great job in the space of Data Analytics. However, don’t mistake AWS for what it’s not. AWS is designed for businesses, not for people.

By choosing AWS you might save $16/month (that’s how much a 1GB VPS costs at PhotonVPS), but in return you will get heaps of uncertainty and tons of headache if something crashes.

Moreover, don’t forget that we aren’t playing computer games here. We are Forex Traders. If something crashes on your VPS and there’s no support team to help you out, you can lose a lot more than $16. Is the trade-off really worth it to you?

Click here for my review of Top Forex VPS

I will leave you with a quote from one of my favourite entrepreneurs, from whom I am learning a lot, Ramit Sethi:

“There’s a limit to how much you can save, but there’s no limit to how much you can earn.”

Focus on the earning, not the saving.

 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy trading,

Kirill

What are you waiting for?

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12 Responses to “Free Amazon VPS Forex: Trader Beware!”

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July 29, 2015 at 1:22 am, nirvous said:

First off, let me thank you for your work in putting together these informative courses. I don’t fully agree with your ‘no-control’ conclusions regarding AWS. But I would agree that a trader that is not technically inclined and requires support would want to stick with a provider that has a tech support hotline. Indeed, the retail user that may require hand-holding is not AWS’s target market. I’d also agree the free tier doesn’t have adequate power to run MT4 reliably.

I manage my own virtual infrastructure on AWS for my day job, so it was a natural fit for me to quickly provision virtual machines for myself for VPS use. In my own case, I have never had connectivity issues with AWS such as you described. If an instance does hang for some reason and you lose access, you can always terminate/reboot the instances from the AWS control panel, then log in to your forex accounts from a different (or local) machine.

Note also that AWS has a security group mechanism where you specify the IP address from which you access the virtual machines. This prevents illicit access to your VPS from networks you don’t recognize as safe. In your ‘no-control’ scenario, you may have attempted to connect from a different address that wasn’t in the security group for your VPS instances. For example your broadband provider issued you an IP address on a different subnet, or maybe you attempted to connect from another physical network (home/work). A scenario like this would result in you not being able to connect to your servers via RDP. A simple addition of your new network to the security group would likely have remedied the problem. In other words, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature! 🙂

One nice AWS benefit: I was able to specify which AWS data center location in the world that was closest to my broker’s server, resulting in super-fast response/ping times. This costs a bit more of course but worth it for the piece of mind that trades will be transmitted reliably.

Once again, thanks for the great courses!

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July 29, 2015 at 2:15 am, Kirill said:

Thank you for a great comment and these valuable insights! I was excited to hear from somebody who uses AWS professionally, and I’m sure other readers will greatly appreciate this too.

Interesting comment in regards to the IP security groups. That would explain why the attempt to log in from another country was unsuccessful. It was also great to hear about the location selection. This is truly an important feature and one that traders like you, with AWS experience, can and should take advantage of.

I concur that technically proficient AWS users can still benefit from Amazon VPS for Forex trading. As with your vivid example many of the points in this review simply don’t apply as you can easily overcome all of the challenges. However, I believe we both agree on two points:

1. AWS is not an appropriate solution for technically non-savvy retail Forex Traders. In order not to offend anybody reading this, I might even take this a step further: AWS is not an appropriate solution for Forex Traders who are not accustomed to using AWS. I.e. you might be technically proficient in other things, but you really need a good understanding of Amazon EC2 and other web services to be able to manage it all on your own and guarantee server uptime.

2. Most importantly, the Free VPS offered by Amazon is not adequate for reliable trading with MetaTrader 4, especially if you want to run multiple instances. I was glad to see that you agree with me on this, because the whole hype around Amazon VPS for Forex is that it’s “Free”, and as soon as you start looking to upgrade to a more powerful machine (plus in a different location), the costs go up very quickly.

Thank you for the great feedback on my courses. I’m glad you are enjoying them!

May I ask just out of curiosity – with your AWS solution, how many MetaTrader 4 terminals are you currently running and how much RAM does your VPS server have?

Thank you for the great post!

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July 29, 2015 at 8:44 am, Alim Bangura said:

Thanks for sharing your personal experience with Amazon Web Services. Based on your post, AWS may be a beneficial option for me down the road when I have become more comfortable using virtual private servers. I like the idea of having control over which data centers I access. Such flexibility could potentially improve latency and execution issues.

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July 29, 2015 at 4:16 am, mikeyhill said:

I work with AWS a lot (like all day every day a lot) and with big data solutions. I think many of your concerns are valid but it’s a lack of understanding what AWS is and isn’t. Like nirvous says, instances are brought up in a VPC which is a private little area for just your instances for security. Very few VPS’s like digital ocean, linode etc.. have this kind-of security in place. The VPC is extremely important and there are many many ways you can quite literally lock yourself out just by a simple misconfiguration. I see that Metatrader can run on Linux which I would consider preferable as a larger majority of your resources can be devoted to the application rather than the OS itself. Lastly, AWS is not just servers. They provide a plethora of resources that reach beyond that (data, networking, storage, processing, AI, scheduling etc…), some may be useful to the trader, some not, but a trading solution built on AWS where the user doesn’t have to consider much about the actual infrastructure setup would be quite interesting if there’s a market for it. Might be worthwhile to look into a platform like this geared towards traders.

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July 29, 2015 at 5:12 am, Kirill said:

What a great overview! Especially, the VPC and Linux comments very interesting. Though I don’t use Linux myself, I can totally see where you are coming from in terms of more efficient resource utilization. Certainly, something traders with advanced understanding of AWS could leverage.

Indeed, there is so much more to AWS, even trivial ideas like storing tick-data on Amazon Servers, deploying sophisticated ML algorithms to process that data and hooking them up to MetaTrader 4 via DLL to send requests to the trade server – that can all be via AWS. Which nicely flows into your remark around a worry-free trading solution built on AWS for traders: “Use it to host your MT4’s in the cloud, or for an extra charge you can hook up some heavy-lifting analytics into your EA, plus we will automatically store your broker’s tick data (which MT4 doesn’t do natively).” How great would that be? I’d buy into something like that. Heck! Turns out we’ve got so many Amazon Architects here, that I reckon we could lift this thing of the ground ourselves..

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July 31, 2015 at 4:42 am, mikeyhill said:

Personally i think that’s a great idea, although I’m not knowledgeable enough to know what to research in the business side. My day job is architecting and provisioning ‘disposable’ resources like this in the ecommerce space in a cloud agnostic manner. Anyways, sounds like an interesting idea to explore but I would not have the industry experience to know what to build. Ping me if you’d like to disqus(!) some more.

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July 31, 2015 at 11:27 am, Kirill said:

Sounds good, I’m intrigued to explore further. Disqus doesn’t have a pm system – could you please shoot me your details to [email protected] and we can take it from there.

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July 29, 2015 at 8:00 am, Alim Bangura said:

Thank you for the post Kirill. I was curious about Amazon Web Services and wanted to know whether or not the cloud service was reliable for forex trading. Your review covered a lot of important points that retail traders can use to make informed decisions. A major deal breaker for me is that clients have to pay to gain access to technical support. Support services should be packaged with the cloud service and come at no cost to clients. Since I have little experience using virtual private servers, I will need access to technical support; therefore, AWS may not be the best VPS service for folks like me. I will review Photon VPS as they seem to offer many benefits.

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July 29, 2015 at 11:43 am, Kirill said:

Thanks for the feedback Alim. Glad you found this review useful!

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March 11, 2016 at 2:11 am, ijak8510 said:

Well i am agree with you. With that situations.amazon vps is the worst choice for forex traders.if traders googling good forex vps out there ,the will find good forex vps which is cheaper and provide good support.me mysef use socialvps and satisfied with their pricing

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December 05, 2016 at 7:11 pm, toysourc said:

I too ran into the same problems as Kirill. Exactly. Worked for a couple of days, on two (2) home computers and a work computer (three instances) as each blocked me out after two (2) days. In my security group I used the all inbound and outbound settings since I was just running demo MT4 to test the AWS and the robot. I ran into the same support issue and moved up to a level where I could get support for accounts. They told me they could not help me with technical support and to pay $29.00 for a month for support. Maybe I would get things figured out and could cancel after the first month and go from there. That is too unreliable for me to risk real money and not be able to get support right when I need it. I too am looking for alternative VPS systems that are geared towards trader’s needs. I don’t need to learn an entire new system from AWS just to accomplish my trading goals. With that being said, Amazon charged me $4.20 for my free AWS (I did have three and all were supposedly running according to my dashboard. However, I was blocked out of all three (3) instances. Finally terminated all of them. I tried paying for the lowest level to get support, my projected payment for the first payment level was to be $128.00 for December 2016. Per my account dashboard. Something is different than what is being projected out there by Amazon and other traders indicating this is a great idea. One would need to be making a lot of money to pay 24/7 fees by the hour to AWS. Just to follow up on Kirill’s experience.

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December 06, 2016 at 1:26 am, Kirill said:

Hey there, thanks for sharing! I feel your pain. Hopefully you find a good VPS provider. Check out our recommendation here: http://www.forexboat.com/vps – it will be updated in the next week or so.

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