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Get and Stay Connected to the Internet to Day Trade

You can’t day trade without a connection to the Internet, but that connection adds another element of risk — viruses. Smart phones offer internet connections and can serve as possible back up to regular systems, but are not fast enough to serve as the primary connection.

Connect to the stock markets through the Internet

If you’re day trading, hook up to the Internet with as much bandwidth as possible — at least a 1.5/256 DSL line. With this capacity, you can download data at 1500 kilobits per second while uploading at 256 kilobits per second. Your Internet service provider may charge more for faster performance, but most day traders find the extra cost worth it. If prices are changing quickly, a delay of half a second can be costly.

Also make sure your trading has a wired connection to the Internet. Wireless routers are less reliable and can slow you down. If other people in your household want Internet access, consider getting two Internet lines so that a child downloading videos in the family room doesn’t slow you down.

A great source of information about the performance of different broadband Internet providers is Broadband Reports.

Stay virus- and hacker-free while day trading

Most operating systems have built-in firewall and virus protection that can handle most likely threats with aplomb. You can also subscribe to different virus protection services. No matter which way you go, be careful how you set these up. Some pointers:

  • Check compatibility. Check with your brokerage firm to make sure that its system is compatible with the virus protection package you choose; some are not. (That, increasingly, makes the built-in options more practical.)

  • Determine whether there’s a trade-off in access speed. Some types of anti-virus software protect your system at the expense of a slow data feed, which will hurt your trading execution.

Whether you go with the built-in software or buy an outside package or are a Mac or a PC, set automatic downloads, software upgrades, and background scans to take place after market hours. You don't want to be slowed down because of an operating system update.

Get mobile with the markets

A growing number of brokerage firms and software developers are coming up with applications that let you trade from a smart phone or a pad computer. These options may be a bad idea for most day traders. Even with 4G service, mobile networks can be slow and drop out, and you can't get enough information on a little screen to trade well.

If you’re a business traveler who gets a great idea on the road and who wants to place one order to buy and hold, then great! Use your phone. If you’re a day trader placing tens or hundreds of orders a day, your muscles will cramp up from entering orders with a teensy keyboard.

However, a mobile platform makes a great backup system. If your broker offers phone trading, you can use it to keep in the market — or close out efficiently — if your trading system goes down or you can't get access to it.

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