Many of the questions I get on a regular basis revolve around our day trading tools. Most of these questions are based around my computer, my computer screen, my trading platform and my data provider. While I don’t believe that you need a really expensive computer or a bank of computer screens to be a successful day trader, one area that I am a stickler about when it comes to our trading tools are the following:
– Make sure you have a solid and reliable trading platform. There are some good and free trading platforms out there, but do not skimp with your trading platform.
– Make sure you have a reliable high speed Internet connection. You can not afford for your internet to go down or bog down to a snails pace during the middle of a live trade.
– On a similar note, you also need a solid data provider. I get comments from traders who are trying to use free data rather often, and that is a concern. A big mistake here is when traders try and use the free data from Interactive Brokers. You can not trade consistently with that type of data, so do not try it.
Before we move on, make sure that you understand that your trading platform, your internet connection and your data provider must all be reliable products from reputable providers with a proven track record. If you have these areas squared away, your day trading results will not suffer in areas that you can least afford to have problems. I have heard some real horror stories from traders that have tried to skimp in these important areas. Do not be another statistical trader that was wiped out trying to save a few dollars. If you want to be a professional day trader, you must have professional tools or you will pay dearly in the end.
For those that are interested, I have ATT Uverse for my internet connection, using the fastest version they offer. I use NinjaTrader software for my trading platform and CQG for my data provider. I have used Rithmic, TT and Real Tick in the past, and I could not tell much difference between any of them. All were reliable and solid data providers for tick charts, which is important. Make sure your data provider offers good tick data if you plan to use tick charts. This is where some providers will come up short.
When it comes to your trading computer, my suggestion is that you buy a basic tower unit. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, nor does it need to be loaded with a ton of expensive options. A relatively new processor and as much memory as you can afford is really all that is necessary. You might want it to have a CD bay in case you need to load your trading platform from disks, but even most of those can be downloaded today. I can not remember the last time I had to use my CD or load any software from it. Everything I need for trading is online and down loadable.
I also suggest that your trading computer is just that, your trading computer. Do not surf or download anything unnecessary to your trading computer. You do not want a virus, nor do you want to download something that can interfere with your ability to trade quickly and efficiently. It simply is not worth the risk. Something like this computer is all you really need, and this is exactly the unit that I use. Historically I bought my computer items at Tiger Direct or Best Buy, but it is hard to beat buying from Amazon these days, particularly if you are a prime member. You order from your screen and it shows up at your front door in a day or two, and that is hard to beat for the money.
Finally, I recommend that you use a wide screen monitor, as they allow you to see more of your chart on the screen. The wide screen version LCD monitors are perfect for us as day traders and I would not use any other type of monitor. Here is the exact model trading screen that I use. I must admit that I have a bank of three monitors, but I purchased the extra two screens long before I realized I did not need them. I now use one as a TV monitor and the other I will occasionally put up a stock chart I might be watching, but rarely do I ever look at more than one trading screen at a time. It is simply a distraction in my opinion, so I avoid it.
As you can see, for a little over $300.00, you can have a nice trading computer and trading screen. There is no need to spend a small fortune on something that simply is not needed. Once you start making money consistently, if you want to invest in a more powerful computer or a larger screen, you can do that easily, but for starters, these two items are more than sufficient to be successful. I am a creature of habit, so I will continue to use this same computer and monitor as long as it continues to meet my needs. When the day comes that they are not sufficient or they go out, I will make the change. Also, just for the record, I still use windows 7. I will not upgrade until necessary. No special reason, I just do not like change or surprises when I am trading.
I hope this information was helpful. When it comes to requirements for our day trading tools, if you have further questions or concerns, I will be happy to answer those where I can. In the end, there are some necessary tools that we do not want to skimp on, and those our trading platform, internet and data provider. This is where we need to start at the top from day one. In regards to our trading computer and trading screen, something along the lines of what I use and showed you is more than adequate for our needs.