What is it used for?
The attached tick counter is be used to see which broker or VPS provider gives you more ticks. In general, the higher the tick volume, the better, because you have more prices to execute at.
Remember, you can only execute a trade on an incoming tick. Having less ticks means you may not execute at the price you want, or may miss trading opportunities altogether. This is especially important for EAs running on a per tick basis (usually scalpers) rather than trading only on the open or close of a bar.
Also, you should expect less ticks if you are trading with a market maker, compared with an ECN broker. A market maker is a broker who bets against you (i.e. your trade is not sent to the real market), and a ECN broker is one who sends your trades to the real market. More on market maker vs ECN here
Ok so what do I do now?
- Copy and paste the indicator ‘LiveVolume.mq4’ into all the MT4 broker’s directory that you want to compare (C:\program files\broker name\experts\indicators)
- Open up all the broker’s terminal and drag and drop the indicator on a DAILY chart at the same time (don’t wait too long as the indicator will start counting once you attach it)
- In the meantime, do not touch the terminals as the count will reset once you change timeframes or close and restart it
- Wait 24 hours (or however long you want to compare the two brokers or VPS for)
- Once 24 hours is up, click once on your chart and press ctrl and d. This will bring up the data window
- Hover your mouse over the daily bar and look at the live volume number in the data window
- Do a comparison to know which broker or VPS provider gives you more ticks. If the ticks from a certain broker are much less than another, chances are you might be trading with a market maker too.
Why am I getting less ticks?
There are a few reasons for this:
- Indicators/EAs take time to process the code (few milliseconds). Any ticks arriving during this processing period (the iteration of the start() function) will be discarded. Once again, the speed which the indicators/EAs are processed depends on the speed of your VPS. (the speed is dependent on how saturated the dedicated servers the VPS are hosted on are) You can see how important it is to get a good VPS hosting company that does not overload their servers.
- Physical distance from broker’s trade server to your MT4 terminal also known as latency. As internet information packets travel across the globe, some information is lost (remember your physics?). The information lost are your ticks. This is why hosting your VPS closer to your broker is a good idea. This is especially important if you are trading an EA that opens trades on a tick by tick basis, rather than trading only at the close of bars.
- The type of VPS operating system (OS) matters. I used to run my EAs on windows server 2003 (I was trying to save on RAM costs as win 2008/2012 use more RAM) and realised it was a mistake. Windows server 2008/12 network input/output (I/O) is much faster than Win 2003 enabling more ticks to be received. At that time, my fellow traders who used Win 2008 were getting 20 to 30% more ticks than I was.
I spoke to Barry (owner of CNS VPS hosting) regarding Win 2003 vs 2008/12 awhile ago and he had this to say:
Whether you sign up with CNS or Beeks, my advice is to go for windows 2012 OS. Don’t be penny wise but pound foolish. You might save on the VPS costs, but you could have earned more back through better execution quality (i.e. lesser slippage, getting the price you want) because of more ticks.
If you find it expensive (Win 2012 will cost more because it requires more RAM. The OS is free for CNS and Beeks), I suggest you trade with a broker who will sponsor your VPS if you trade above a monthly volume. They can be found here (CNS) and here (Beeks).