Forex trading can be complex and time consuming. Expert advisors (EAs) are pre-programmed software that analyzes the market and automatically executes trades for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about forex EAs – from what they are and how they work, to their benefits, risks, and top recommendations.
What is an Expert Advisor (EA) in Forex Trading?
A forex expert advisor (EA) is an automated trading system designed to trade on your behalf. It is a program coded with trading rules that analyze the market using technical indicators and place buy and sell orders automatically without any manual intervention.
EAs are also called trading robots, trading bots, automated trading systems (ATS) or algo trading. They are designed to remove the psychological aspects of trading and execute trades based on a pre-defined trading strategy.
How Do Expert Advisors Work?
Expert advisors are programmed in MetaQuotes Language 4 (MQL4), the coding language supported by the popular MetaTrader 4 forex trading platform. They connect to your trading account via the MT4 platform and have access to live market data, charts, and your account balance/equity.
The EA’s algorithm analyzes the market based on technical indicators like moving averages, RSI, stochastic etc. Once the buy or sell criteria are met as per the defined strategy, the EA places the trades automatically in your account.
For example, a moving average crossover EA will buy when the short term MA crosses above the long term MA indicating an uptrend. It will sell when the short term MA crosses below the long term indicating a downtrend. The logic is based on the trading rules coded into the EA.
You define settings like trade size, daily stop loss, take profit levels etc. The EA then manages the trade automatically until the TP/SL levels are hit at which point it closes the trade for profit or loss and moves on to the next opportunity.
Benefits of Using an Expert Advisor
Here are some of the key benefits of trading with EAs:
- Removes Emotions: EAs make decisions based on logic, backtesting and probability. Humans tend to make trading errors based on greed, fear, hope and panic. EAs remove the psychological element.
- Preserves Discipline: Trading requires great discipline to follow rules and stick to a strategy. EAs trade your systems with discipline.
- Saves Time: You don’t have to spend hours every day analyzing charts. The EA trades for you 24/7.
- Diversifies Trading: You can automate different strategies and asset classes across accounts using EAs to diversify.
- Improves Order Execution: EAs can place orders faster and more accurately than humans. This can improve trade entries and exits.
- Runs Detailed Backtests: You can backtest EAs across decades of data in different market conditions to gauge performance.
- Customizable Trading: EAs allow you to program any strategy you want and automate rule based systems.
Potential Risks of Expert Advisors
However, there are also some risks to be aware of when using EAs:
- Over-Optimization: Fitting an EA too closely to past data can lead to poor performance when markets change.
- Technical Failure: Software crashes, loss of internet connectivity etc. can cause EAs to fail unexpectedly.
- Monitoring Needed: You still need to monitor EA trading and update settings periodically. Fully automated systems come with risks.
- Hidden Costs: VPS fees, software costs etc. are expenses associated with EAs that add up.
- Coding Competency Needed: You need to either code EAs yourself or buy from reliable, reputable sources.
- Potential Losses: There is no guarantee that EAs will be profitable. They can lose money like any trading if not coded properly.
How to Choose the Right Forex Expert Advisor
With hundreds of EAs to choose from, selecting a quality EA that matches your trading style is crucial:
Define Your Trading Strategy Rules and Parameters
- What market conditions does your strategy look for – trend, range, breakout?
- What indicators will you use? MA crossover? RSI? Price action?
- Will it trade one timeframe or many? Daily? 4 hour? 1 hour?
- What trading session will it trade? Asian? London? New York?
- What asset classes will it trade? Major pairs? Minors? Gold? Oil?
Having clear rules will help narrow your search to EAs matching your criteria.
Check Historical Backtest Results
- Verify at least 5-10 years of backtests if possible.
- Check performance in different market conditions – uptrends, downtrends, ranges etc.
- Look for steady consistency rather than hype of “triple digit gains!”.
- Ensure backtesting on out of sample data, not just optimized in sample.
This will help gauge the EA’s profitability. Beware of shady vendors showing unbelievable results with no proof.
Start with a Demo Account
Never risk real capital with a new, untested EA. Run it in a demo for at least a few months to see actual trading results and account for real market slippages/spreads.
Only after you have proven consistency should you move to a small live account to build more trust. Don’t rush into automation without due caution.
Choose an Established, Reputable Provider
Seek EAs from companies with a long track record, years in the industry, and proof of clients actually using their EAs profitably. This helps avoid scams.
Check third party verification sites like MyFXBook to analyze real account results from users. Beware of fake marketing hype.
Understand the Logic Behind the EA’s Strategy
Don’t treat the EA as a “black box” system. Review the methodology behind the programmed logic so you understand how and why it makes trading decisions.
Study the indicators used, trade entry and exit rules coded, risk management parameters etc. so you are comfortable with the EA’s approach.
Use Reasonable Leverage
Don’t fall for vendors pitching EAs that promise unrealistically high returns through the use of extremely high leverage. This is a warning sign.
Be prudent with leverage – no more than 1:10 to 1:50 depending on account size and risk tolerance. Excess leverage amplifies risk.
By following these tips, you can find a quality expert advisor matched to your trading plan. Still, caution is required as not all EAs work forever. Market conditions change so continual updates to algorithms are needed.
How to Backtest an Expert Advisor
Backtesting an EA is crucial to gauge its profitability across changing market conditions before committing real money. Here are the key steps:
Download Historical Price Data
Obtain at least 10+ years of tick data for the symbols you want to test. MT4 platforms like MetaTrader allow importing price data.
Test across different time frames – 1 minute, 5 min, hourly etc. The more data the better – some platforms provide decades of backtest data.
Set Up Parameters
Configure the EA settings – trade size, SL/TP, indicators, trade times etc. Optimize for long term stability, not just max profit.
Set spread, commission, slippage to reflect real trading as closely as possible. This avoids unrealistic expectations.
Run the Backtest
Let the backtest run across all the imported data. Many platforms allow speeding up the backtest.
Analyze the results – total net profit, largest drawdowns, profit factor, percent profitable trades etc. Optimization can take hours to days.
Walk Forward Analysis
Run multiple backtests over different sequential time periods – for example, year by year for the past 15 years.
This simulates how the EA would have performed walking forward in time adapting to changing markets. Avoid just one static backtest.
Follow up with demo trading for 3-6 months in real time. This adds an extra layer of testing and validation before going live.
Monitor and log results. Demo trading often reveals flaws not noticeable in backtesting. Only use real funds after successful demo trading.
With rigorous backtesting, you can gain confidence in the EAs potential profitability. But markets continually evolve, so ongoing maintenance is crucial.
Forex Expert Advisor Programming
While there are ready made EAs available, learning to program your own expert advisors has many advantages:
You can code the exact strategy rules, trade management, and account protections specific to your plan and risk tolerance. Commercial EAs are more general.
As market conditions change, you can update and optimize your EA’s algorithms yourself instead of relying on someone else.
Knowing how to code EAs leads to a much deeper understanding of automated trading and forecasting models. This informs better trading decisions.
If an EA encounters issues, you can troubleshoot the code yourself instead of submitting help tickets and waiting for someone else to fix it.
Once you know how to code EAs, you avoid recurring subscription fees charged by EA vendors. Just the cost of the platform/data feed.
But first, how do you get started with writing your own EAs? Here is a step-by-step primer:
Step 1 – Learn MQL4
MQL4 is the programming language used on the popular MetaTrader 4 platform. While advanced, it can be learned with commitment. Start by learning key concepts like variables, data types, functions, loops etc. YouTube has many free tutorials.
Step 2 – Study Sample EAs
MetaTrader includes hundreds of sample EAs covering common trading strategies. Analyzing the code of these EAs will teach you structure, syntax and problem solving. Learn by example.
Step 3 – Code a Basic EA
Write a very simple EA – like an MA crossover system – to get comfortable with coding workflow. Test and troubleshoot the logic. Start small without getting overambitious.
Step 4 – Progress to More Advanced Strategies
Once you grasp the basics, expand into more complex EAs – advanced indicators, trade management techniques, multiple conditions etc. Learn good coding practices.
Step 5 – Forward Test and Update
Carefully demo test your EAs, analyze results, identify flaws and continue optimizing the programming. Coding EAs takes patience and persistence.
While challenging at first, programming skills provide flexibility and control over your automated trading. Consider getting mentored by an experienced EA coder to speed your learning.
Using Expert Advisors Safely and Responsibly
EA trading comes with risks like any endeavor. Managing risk prudently while automating strategies requires following certain best practices:
Avoid Over-Optimizing EAs
Don’t curve fit EAs too tightly to past data in hopes of maximizing backtest profit. This leads to degradation in actual trading.
Keep parameters sensible and stable even if means lower historical returns. Markets change and the future may not resemble the past.
Use Prudent Leverage
Don’t get tempted by vendors showing backtests with 500:1 leverage. This gives unrealistic returns that will collapse in actual trading.
Keep leverage around 1:10 to 1:50 max depending on account size, strategy, and instruments traded. Over-leveraging is asking for blow ups.
Monitor EA Trading Regularly
Don’t “set and forget” EAs. Actively track trading activity, account changes, open positions etc. to ensure healthy metrics.
Performance can degrade over time as markets evolve. Be ready to pause trading and update EAs if needed. Stay vigilant.
Employ Reasonable Trade Sizing
Size positions based on a percentage of account balance, not arbitrarily fixed lots. As balances grow, so should position size to account for growth.
1-3% risk per trade is reasonable. Larger trade sizes in hopes of quicker profits adds extreme risk and volatility.
Use Tight Stop Losses
Keep stop losses tight, no more than 2-3% from entry price. This limits downside on losing trades before they balloon out of control and hit max daily loss limits.
Wider stops in hopes of riding out short term moves leads to accumulating runaway losses as the trend continues against you.
Diversify Across Markets
Don’t commit 100% of capital to one EA or asset class. Diversify capital across multiple uncorrelated strategies and markets to reduce risk.
Losses in one market/strategy can be cushioned by profits in trending strategies applied across financial sectors. Don’t put all eggs in one basket.
Code Defensive Logic
Program defensive code for account protections like daily loss limits, volatility filters, disabling trading during news events etc.
Code logic to handle errors and anomalous situations. Defensive coding prevents large unintended losses.
By being prudent and avoiding greed, EAs can function safely as part of a diversified automated trading system. But human oversight is still essential.
Top 10 Forex Expert Advisors
While hundreds of EAs are available, these 10 have consistently remained popular with users due to long track records and profitability:
1. Forex Flex EA
- Multiple configurable strategies in one EA
- Adaptive volatility filters during ranging markets
- Over 10 years of proven live results
2. GPS Forex Robot
- Profitable since 2007 across multiple accounts
- Low drawdown and consistent gains in backtests
- Excellent ratings and reviews from users
3. FxBotTrade EA
- Uses support, resistance, RSI for automated trading rules
- Hundreds of 5 star reviews
- Available as one-time purchase, no monthly fees
4. Forex Gump EA
- Combines MA cross, MACD, Stochastics, and Moving Average strategies
- Over 97% winning trades in backtest with low drawdown
- Works across all currency pairs and timeframes
5. Smart FX 3 EA
- Three strategy EA with fully automated trading
- Built-in money management and ability to survive market volatility
- Used profitably by clients since 2007
6. WallStreet Forex Robot
- Proven gains even during market crashes
- Over 330% returns in backtests with real ticks data
- Adaptive to volatile market conditions
7. AI Forex Robot
- Uses artificial intelligence to automatically optimize performance
- Analyzes and adapts to changing market conditions
- Cloud-based with easy setup across devices
8. Forex Megadroid EA
- Over 95% wins on backtest over a 10 year period
- Specializes in trading the European/London session
- Built-in trade management for limiting losses
9. AutoFXEA EA
- Automated alerts via Telegram, Discord, and Email
- Works across all currency pairs with deep optimization
- Hundreds of positive reviews from live traders
- Scalps profits from short moves on 5 minute charts
- Cuts losses fast while maximizing winning trades
- Trades multiple currency pairs for diversification
While results aren’t guaranteed, these popular EAs have earned positive reputations based on user reviews and longevity. Yet caution is still advised before using any automated trading system.
Common Questions About Expert Advisors (FAQ)
There are some common questions that often arise for traders considering using expert advisors (EAs):
What is the accuracy of EAs?
EA accuracy can vary greatly depending on the strategy logic and robustness of the programming. Some EAs can maintain high accuracy like 60-75%+ over thousands of trades, while poorly coded EAs may be correct less than 50% of the time. Very high accuracy with EAs usually comes at the expense of limited profit, while aggressive EAs may have lower accuracy. Conduct extensive backtesting to gauge accuracy.
Can expert advisors really make consistent profits?
Yes, EAs can generate consistent profits over years of trading. But the key is choosing a robust EA with an edge and sound strategy logic, not over-optimized on historical data. Profitable EAs use prudent risk management. Expect periodically losing months/years as markets change. Beware of vendors over-hyping unrealistic gains. Consistency comes from logic and probabilities, not guarantees.
What risks are associated with EAs?
Risks include losses from sudden changing market conditions that the EA is not programmed to handle. Technical risks like platform crashes and connectivity loss. Monitoring risks from not tracking trading closely. Coding risks of flaws in logic. Optimization risks from over-fitting parameters. Broker risks from manipulative or fraudulent practices. Lack of diversification risk. There are many risks to manage.
Can I find free forex EAs that work?
Free EAs usually underperform since profitable strategies are closely guarded. But the cost does not guarantee results either. It’s best to learn programming basics and code simple EAs yourself before trusting free or paid systems. Get past the hype and verify real account results. Start with simple EAs and grow in complexity with experience.
Should I use EAs during major news events?
It is best to program your EAs to stop trading or disconnect before major scheduled news events. The sudden volatility spike and liquidity changes during news can cause slippage leading to losing trades. Either pause EAs manually or code calendar logic and volatility filters to avoid trading sessions with elevated risk.
How do I know what is the best forex EA?
There is no single “best EA” for everyone. The best EA matches your personal trading style, account size, risk tolerance, indicators etc. Scour forums and reviews to research top performing EAs based on consensus user opinions. Thoroughly backtest EAs on relevant symbols/timeframes matching your preferences. Demo test before going live. What’s “best” for one trader may not suit your needs.
As you can see, expert advisors provide the ability to automate rule-based trading strategies. But finding and implementing a profitable EA requires research, backtesting, and monitoring. Used properly, EAs can process complex data and make emotionless trading decisions faster than humans. Yet prudent risk management is still essential.
With the right coding knowledge, you can even program custom EAs tailored to your specific trading plan and account needs. However, markets continually evolve, so tuning algorithms is crucial over time. EAs are not a “set
Best and Most Trusted Forex Brokers
Based on regulation, award recognition, mainstream credibility, and overwhelmingly positive client feedback, these six brokers stand out for their sterling reputations:
|No||Broker||Regulation||Min. Deposit||Platforms||Account Types||Offer||Open New Account|
|1.||RoboForex||FSC Belize||$10||MT4, MT5, RTrader||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||Welcome Bonus $30||Open RoboForex Account|
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|3.||Exness||FCA, CySEC||$1||MT4, MT5||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||Free VPS||Open Exness Account|
|4.||XM||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$5||MT4, MT5||Standard, Micro, Zero Spread||20% Deposit Bonus||Open XM Account|
|5.||ICMarkets||Seychelles FSA||$200||MT4, MT5, CTrader||Standard, Zero Spread||Best Paypal Broker||Open ICMarkets Account|
|6.||XBTFX||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$10||MT4, MT5||Standard, Zero Spread||Best USA Broker||Open XBTFX Account|
|7.||Vantage||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$50||MT4, MT5||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||20% Deposit Bonus||Open Vantage Account|
|8.||FXTM||FSC Mauritius||$10||MT4, MT5||Standard, Micro, Zero Spread||Welcome Bonus $50||Open FXTM Account|
|9.||FBS||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$5||MT4, MT5||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||100% Deposit Bonus||Open FBS Account|
|10.||Binance||DASP||$10||Binance Platforms||N/A||Best Crypto Broker||Open Binance Account|
|11.||TradingView||Unregulated||Free||TradingView||N/A||Best Trading Platform||Open TradingView Account|
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