If you want to work as a day trader from a home office, the right equipment will let you act quickly when you need to trade and help you stay organized. Here's the basic setup you'll need:

  • A PC with a good monitor: Most personal computers sold nowadays have the processing power to handle day trading. Because you'll be spending a lot of time in front of it, do yourself a favor and get at least one large flat-screen monitor so that you can have at least two windows open at once.

  • A second PC or mobile backup: Computers are fickle. No matter which brand you buy, you're subject to different mechanical or software glitches that can shut you down. That's why it's good to have a duplicate of your system on a laptop or at least have your broker's app on your phone so that you can switch over quickly.

  • High-speed Internet access: You need a fast, reliable connection with backup service. Period.

  • Spreadsheet software: Still haven't figured out Microsoft Excel? It's time. Spreadsheets will help you track performance and analyze returns. (Excel 2013 For Dummies, by Greg Harvey [Wiley] can help you figure it out.)

  • An online brokerage account: Several brokerage firms specialize in the needs of high-volume traders. They offer online access, real-time quotes, backtesting and other analytical services, and low commission to those who make many trades.