One extremely silly thing people do is trading from their laptops. There are so many things that can go wrong with that I seriously wonder if the motto “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” ever come across the minds of these traders. Wireless connection can drop easily at the wrong moment – when you have a size position on and need to get out, or that you need to get into a position yet your order is not transmitted.
So it is not just an issue for mechanical traders. It is something affecting discretionary traders too. So all these people out there showing themselves trading off their laptops, is really doing the aspiring traders a disservice.
The VPN + Remote Control Workaround
The solution is really simple – have a half decent computer installed at home with a stable Internet connection. Run your trading platform on that computer. Problem solved.
But you want to be able to trade from anywhere instead of being confined to the seat in front of your computer at home. No problem – the trick is to connect your laptop to your home network through VPN and remote control your trading computer.
There are many advantages to trade through this arrangement:
– stable connection means active orders and automated trading strategies will not be affected by your flaky wireless internet connection with your laptop
– you can easily upgrade the setup to a professionally managed server that you lease near the exchange for even better stability and security
– minimize the chance of computer virus and other malwares from infecting your trading applications since they are setup on a clean computer, not your laptop for which you may visit one too many times naughty websites
– you can use any kind of computer or tablet to remote access the trading computer. For example, you may love to use Macbook Air yourself for day to day computing but your trusted trading platform could be Windows based application.
– instability of connection to your trading computer from your remote access will not affect the trading application itself from talking to your brokerage, hence your live orders, especially those target and stop orders have a much better chance to survive
There are several ready-made solutions you can try out.
If you use Windows only computers, you can use its built-in Remote Desktop application to access just your trading computer.
If you like to mix and match, TeamViewer is a functional platform allowing you to do the same.
What I Do
For my own setup, I have chosen a barebone core-i7 Windows 7 Pro computer as the trading computer. The reason why I choose Windows 7 Pro is that it is stable and we can easily stop it from getting new updates from Microsoft. It is very important that a trading computer does not automatically doing whatever it feels like and reboot randomly as if it has a mind of its own. On this front, Microsoft has totally failed itself as a mission critical OS since Windows 8.
On the trading computer, it has absolutely nothing except the trading platforms.
For VPN access, I use Softether VPN because I also like to access all the other computers in my home network. But you can keep it simple with just standard Microsoft Remote Desktop to access the trading computer only by poking a hole to your home network.
I often have to travel and this setup with the trading computer safe and sound in a secure location makes it much easier for me to monitor the automated trading from anywhere in the world.
I am very happy with this setup so far and the trading computer has been running 7/24 with no trouble at all for several weeks already. If you are serious about day trading and mechanical trading, consider doing this as soon as possible. I am sure you will be happy with the results.