The Best and Most Popular Forex Platforms for Demo

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We are often asked about which broker is best to 'DEMO' on when a new trader is learning forex for the first time.

Demo trading will not fully prepare you for live trading. However, demo is good for getting comfortable with forex concepts, learning how a platform works, learning order types, and understanding trade size and risks. You will still need to spend time learning to adjust to live trading when you eventually move from demo to real money, but demo is where you should start. Starting with a demo account is important as you get to know the basics.

Forex is dominated by just a few major platforms. Some brokers offer platforms developed in-house by their own team, and these are referred to as "proprietary platforms" as they are unique to their respective brokers, but most brokers will offer platforms by one of two major software vendors: MetaQuotes and Spotware.

MetaQuotes offers the MetaTrader family of platforms. MetaTrader is the most wide spread platform in the retail forex world, so learning how to use MetaTrader means you can switch between brokeres without much of a learning curve. Right now MetaQuotes offers two versions of MetaTrader: MetaTrader 4, and MetaTrader 5. There's benefits and drawbacks of both version:

MetaTrader 4 (MT4)

We are recommending people use Pepperstone for their MT4 demo needs. You can create a demo login with Pepperstone here and create as many demo accounts as you'd like. Why Pepperstone? Currently MetaQuotes' own website will bait and switch your MT4 download into an MT5 install through their installer program. MetaQuotes is doing this to push the adoption of MT5. Pepperstone, once you've signed up, offers a client panel that lets you download their branded MT4, and this program fully installs MT4 without the same bait-and-switch to MT5 that MetaQuotes is doing.

Pros:
  • Wider set of community created indicators, strategies, and scripts available.
  • MQL4 (the language the MT4 uses,) is less complex to use than it's older brother (MQL5) and has a cleaner API.
  • Currently more brokers support MT4 (but that's changing as MetaQuotes has been forcing brokers over to MT5 for a while now.)
Cons:
  • 32 bit, single threaded application. You're just not going to be able to toss more hardware at this guy to fix slowness.. The code base was first written way back when a single core machine would be "beefy" with just 2gb or 4gb of ram. It's not designed to scale up with most hardware.
  • Lacks native exchange/ECN support, must be fed quotes by a single source dealer. This platform was designed to be used by dealing brokers / market makers. It has no support for proper exchanges. All ECN brokers who use MT4 are feeding the top of book on their ECN through a bridge to MT4 server or using other plugins to make it work.

MetaTrader 5 (MT5)

As with MT4, we are recommending people use Pepperstone for their MT4/5 demo needs. The same Demo account login can generate MT5 accounts. You can create a demo login with Pepperstone here and create as many demo accounts as you'd like.

Pros:
  • Native exchange and ECN support. Depth of market and proper order book support for exchange-like ECNs and even Futures Exchanges in some cases.
  • Can make use of multiple cores on your PC for backtesting and even tap into a cloud of compute units should you want to pay for quicker results.
  • Decent online community (thanks to MT4 roots) to help with issues.
  • This will be the new standard once MT4 is fully retired (soon, so threatens MetaQuotes over the last 5+ years.)
Cons:
  • Still dealing with MT4-like interface. Missed opportunity to refresh and make the user interface better.
  • Depth of market window provided is not a drop-in replacement for a proper DOM as seen in various futures platforms.

cTrader

Spotware offers the cTrader family of platforms. This platform family is newer but probably has been the biggest competition MetaTrader has seen in the better part of two decades.

Right now I'm recommending people use Pepperstone for their cTrader needs. You can create a demo login with Pepperstone here. Why Pepperstone? They have grown to be one of the largest retail FX brokers over the last decade and have amazing customer support. They will treat you well with questions even while you're demoing and, in our opinion, are the strongest cTrader offering out there at the moment.

I hope this helps anyone new to the FX game who is looking to master a platform and wrap their head around how the act of taking a trade even happens.

Pros
  • Fresh interface that can be customized and accessed via desktop, web, and mobile platforms all while syncing preferences and workspaces between devices.
  • Full support for Apple / Mac platforms via a fully featured web interface (yes, MT5 has a web interface as well, but cTrader's interface is feature compatible to the desktop software where as MT5's web interface is feature limited.)
  • C# based algo system allowing the import and use of many common C# libraries. (This is actually a pretty big deal.)
Cons
  • Less freely available indicators and custom code written for this platform as the community that uses is is smaller and it has only been around for a few years.
  • Fewer brokers use cTrader when compared to MetaTrader, but this number is growing.