Even if you only have one computer, if you have to reinstall your operating system or change a hard drive, setting up Metatrader all over again can be a pain.
If you do have multiple computers, then you probably understand how much of a hassle it can be to add your custom indicators again and get your charts just right.
Yes, you can backup your install or simply save your templates. But every time you make one small change and forget to backup (which can happen a lot), you will lose your most recent settings.
At least that is has been my experience, you might be better at doing backups than I am.
So in this post, I'm going to show you a really simple way of doing an automatic Metatrader backup sync so that you always have your most recent version of Metatrader stored safely.
Although this has obvious benefits, there are also some limitations and drawbacks to this method, so I will get into that too.
I tried several different methods of backing up my Metatrader install from manually backing up template files, to writing backup scripts, to manually backing up my whole MT folder.
This method works best for me…
How to Automatically Sync Metatrader
Saving and syncing all of your Metatrader installation information is actually really simple.
First, you have to install Dropbox. If you have never used Dropbox before, it makes is really easy to sync information between your computer and their servers.
Simply go to the Dropbox website and download it. The best part is that it is free and works on Windows, Mac and Linux. Installing Dropbox on Linux is a little tricky, so be sure to read this tutorial first.
After you install it, you will have a Dropbox folder on your computer. Anything that you put into this folder will be automatically synced with Dropbox.
Now go to your broker's website and download their latest version of Metatrader. During the installation process, instead of installing Metatrader to the default location, install it to your Dropbox folder.
If you already have a Dropbox account, simply create a new folder in your main Dropbox folder and install Metatrader there. Now you can install Dropbox on any computer, log into your account and you will be able to run Metatrader directly from that folder. Just double click on the terminal.exe file in the folder to run it.
That's it! No more manual backups and no more time wasted on setting up charts. You even can setup Metatrader on your Windows computer and jump over to a Mac or Linux computer later. Metatrader may ask you to login to your account again, but that is the only additional step that you might have to take.
But there are some drawbacks to using this method.
Limitations of this Metatrader Sync Method
First of all, if you use this method, you can only use Metatrader on one computer at a time. If you use it on your laptop, you have to close it before you use it on your desktop.
The reason is that Dropbox will continually sync from the two computers. This will lead to multiple copies of your charts and other files.
Trust me, it gets messy.
So if you are going to use this method, be sure to close Metatrader on your current computer before moving to another computer.
Second, if you are using a free Dropbox account, there is not enough space to download all of the historical data for every pair.
That is fine in most cases because you really don't need all that historical data unless you are trading longer term charts or doing a ton of backtesting. If you are day trading or swing trading, you should be fine.
When I talk about historical data, I'm talking about data that goes back to the 1980s or even before. Again, most traders won't need that much data. I found that I could download the complete history of about three or four pairs before space started to get tight in my Dropbox account.
Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, which is more than enough to run a standard installation of Metatrader. However, if you feel that you need more space because you do need more historical data, then you will have to pay to upgrade your Dropbox account, or not use this method.
For this reason, I upgraded to the Pro plan.
Remove the Duplication Issue by Copying the Folder
The easiest way to solve the duplication issue is to simply duplicate your first MT4 folder in Dropbox. Then do a selective sync so the second computer only uses that folder.
Here's how to do that…
First, copy the folder in Dropbox by clicking on the menu button (with the three dots) on the right side of the folder's line.
Then paste the folder to your main Dropbox folder by clicking on it in the selection box and clicking the Copy button.
Then you will have a copy of the original folder. Rename it by clicking on the menu button again on the right side of the line and select Rename.
Name the folder something that makes sense to you. Let's say that you are going to use this copy of the install on a Dell computer.
You would name the folder something like:
Then on the computer (in this case, the Dell), click on the Dropbox icon in the tray and click on the settings icon. After that, click on Preferences.
On the next screen, click on Account > Selective Sync.
Then check the box of the folder you want to sync with.
Now click on the terminal application in your Dropbox folder to launch MT4. Create a shortcut on your desktop or somewhere that is easy to access.
You now have a second copy of MT4, with no duplication!
Repeat for any additional computers you want to backup.
How to Fix Some Elements Not Getting Copied to Dropbox
Since build 600 of Metatrader 4, all custom templates, indicators and other assets of MT4 get copied to your user folder, outside of the MT4 install folder.
This means that they do not get backed up to Dropbox.
Luckily, this is pretty easy to fix.
It has to do with how MT4 is launched. When you launch MT4 in regular mode, it stores the assets in a separate folder in your user profile.
However, when you launch it in portable mode, it will keep all of the files in the same folder. Yeah, that doesn't make any sense, but it is what it is.
So, to launch Metatrader 4 in portable mode, you have to a small tweak to your program file or shortcut. If you have a shortcut in your taskbar, then right-click on the shortcut, then right-click on MetaTrader, then click on Properties.
If you have a regular program in your MT4 folder, then you have to create a shortcut and always launch the program from that shortcut.
Then in the properties menu, add the portable command by typing in:
…after the existing command in the Target field. Yes, there is a space before /portable.
Then that's it!
When you launch MT4 again, you will be in portable mode and all changes will be saved to Dropbox. Remember that if you had made any changes before, you will have to copy those assets from your user folder to your Dropbox folder before going to portable mode, or start all over.
Copying Metatrader Files From User Profile
As mentioned above, Metatrader does a weird thing where profiles do not get backed up to the cloud storage (like Dropbox). It only gets saved in the user profile.
So to copy them to your Dropbox drive, do the following:
- In MT4 click: File > Open Data Folder > Profiles
- Copy all the folders to the corresponding Dropbox folder and overwrite everything
- Close/reopen platform
The updated profile should now be available.
Changing Your MT Icon
There have been some questions that have come up about this process. But if you read the comments below, I think that they will answer most of your questions.
I also want to thank Trading Heroes reader Richard for submitting the following solutions:
You may want to change your MT4 icon, especially if you are running multiple instances of Metatrader. Here is how you do it:
- Open broker folder in cloud storage
- Create shortcut of ‘terminal' (app) (I moved mine to desktop)
- Right click on above shortcut
- Click Properties > Change Icon > Browse > terminal icon (found in the relevant broker's folder in cloud) > apply/ok
You should now be able to happily pin your special broker icon to your taskbar.
BTW, Richard is using Microsoft's OneDrive, so this works for other cloud storage as well!
Thanks again Richard!
So that is the easiest way that I have found to automatically backup and run Metatrader from multiple computers. It is super simple and free, in most cases.
If you don't want to use this method with your primary Dropbox account, just use another email address and setup another account. I hope that this tip saves you a ton of time and frustration.
Looking for a new trading computer? I'll show you how to choose the best one in this post.
How do you backup and sync your Metatrader installation? Let us know in the comments below…
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