MY EXPERIENCE TRADING ON MAC
Currently I trade on a 2016 MacBook Pro and I use a Verizon Hotspot for an internet connection through my phone. I use the Alveo platform which has to be installed on a windows operating system – not a mac. So I have a bit of a problem because I can either go buy a PC or find a way to make Alveo work on a Mac.
Unfortunately this is a situation that is all too familiar in the financial world. It seems the entire industry is built on windows infrastructure – and it has been slow to transform to the current cloud computing world we live in today.
Fortunately, there are several options for us Mac users to live in both worlds.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS). This is the option I use. It is not the cheapest approach but I appreciate some of the advantages such as being able to trade from an iPad, phone or computer. I can be anywhere with almost any device and log into my virtual server to trade.
A VPS is essentially a computer that is located at a hosting company and you connect to it over the internet. It runs the operating system you want and you can instal any software you want on it. I use the VPS through the Apiary Fund which comes with Alveo already installed. Apiary maintains the VPS and the Alveo platform so it is relatively hassle free. But it isn’t the cheapest solution: it costs $54/mo for basics, $84/mo for Pro, or $134/mo for Premium. I use the Pro version.
There are a few reasons I choose to trade on a VPS.
First is speed of execution. Every trade you place originates on your computer and has to travel to the server – and the travel time comes at a cost. The price I see on my charts has already come and gone and the current price could be higher or lower than what I see on my computer. Using a VPS from Apiary puts the trading platform right next to Alveo’s servers – essentially removing a whole lot of trading time between the platform and server. The less travel time a trade has to cover, the better the trade executions and smaller the slippage. It is the consummate battle of efficiency that has been waged in the financial world for centuries!
Second. I can let Alveo run on the VPS 24-7. I never have to turn off the computer. Alveo’s connection to the internet and server never goes down (unless the server goes down – which it occasionally does.) Sometimes internet connections get congested and loose connection. So running your trading platform on a VPS reduces potential connectivity problems while your trading.
Third. A VPS has guaranteed processing power and you can choose how much umpf you want to run your trading strategies. Your computer at home shares processing power with every program your run – many of which you never realize are running but are draining your computer of valuable resources. One of the big resource hogs that often competes with your trading platform is your anti-virus software. About a third of the technical problems people call into trader support with has something to do with antivirus software. Again, the VPS removes another set of common conflicts arising from problems between different programs and resources on your computer.
But I recognize that a VPS might be a bit of an expensive solution. There are simpler solutions for trading on a mac. Virtualization software such as Parallels, VMware, or even Bootcamp might be a better solution for you.
Due to Apple’s proprietary control of their intellectual property, they have a challenge with developers who build programs for windows platform but don’t want to go through the headache and cost of developing it again for IOS. Recognizing the challenge company’s, including Apple themselves, have built software that will allow you to run a windows operating system on a mac.
With virtualization software, you install a program on your computer that partitions a part of your Macs resources and allows you to install a windows operating system. Windows will use part of your computer’s resource letting you instal PC software on your Mac.
I have used all three programs Bootcamp, Parallels and VMware to trade on my Mac with good success. They all do a relatively good job partitioning resources giving you enough power to run your trading platform. I have had challenges with internet connectivity in the past but those problems seem to have improved in recent versions and we don’t experience too many issues in trader support.
Of all the solutions in virtualization, Bootcamp is the cheapest since it comes native to the Apple operating system. You lose a bit of the convenience with Bootcamp since you have to turn off your computer and start it again in windows mode in order to trade. VMware and Parallels allow you run both operating systems at the same time. For me the inconvenience of Bootcamp meant that almost always used Parallels or VMware – with a general preference for VMware.
Whether you choose a VPS or virtualization software, you’ll find these solutions a good way to keep using your mac while you trade. As I write this article, I am flipping back and forth between Pages and my trading account – and I am happy to announce I am up 51 pips on this trading session!