The "best" Forex platforms for a demo/practice account? (MT4, MT5 and cTrader)


Staff member
I'm often asked about which broker is best to 'DEMO' on when first learning forex.

Here's the thing: demo will not prepare you for live trading. You'll still be learning when you go live. However, it's important you know the basics and even more so that you know how to operate any given platform, and for that a demo account is a great start.

Forex is dominated by just a few major platforms. Some brokers offer platforms developed in-house by their own team, but most brokers offer platforms by one of two major vendors: MetaQuotes and Spotware.

We will be using demos from Pepperstone for this article.

MetaQuotes offers the MetaTrader platforms. This platform family is old as dirt and is probably the most wide spread platform in the retail forex world. Right now there are two major releases on offer with most brokers: MetaTrader 4, and MetaTrader 5. There's benefits and drawbacks of both:


  • 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.)
  • 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.


  • 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.)
  • 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.

You can create a demo login for MT4 and MT5 through Pepperstone here and create as many perpetual demo accounts as you'd like. Why Pepperstone? Because one login gets you access to MT4, MT5, and other platform demos / paper accounts, and you can make as many accounts in various configurations as needed. Easy and centralized.


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

  • 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.)
  • 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 MT4/5, but this number is growing.

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 my 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. Please feel free to post any questions or comments on this article here.

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Additionally, I have never really taken to C# (or Java), so cAlgo is not the "answer", although perhaps CTrader's charting will suffice.

Netdania and ctrader
They have been trying to kill MT4 since the dawn of time and it will not die. I’m no fan and I don’t think they went anywhere near as far as they should have with MT5. A missed opportunity to move forward but they have a business model that incentivises firms to open up with them that can’t be denied.

As for rewriting EAs for another platform I would say if you are running within the confines of MT4 then unless using bespoke DLLs and the likes it may not be be a massive world of pain. Python or C#.
These days the whole “api” thing is popular so you could do worse than python or using something like quantconenct but if you are happy running in someone’s container ctrader automate/algo should be an option. C#/python/mql are just tools. Yeah tools you need to decide if you want to invest effort into or not. You can answer that not me

For now I’m pinning on ctrader and happy to brush up on c# but will keep my oanda apis and python handy. Heck I’ll even consider spinning up MT if I ever get some algos running
Ha you do you mate. I wouldn’t dream of trying to convert anything other than code. If you want to believe in unicorns, Bigfoot and functional programming go for it ;)
Ha you do you mate. I wouldn’t dream of trying to convert anything other than code. If you want to believe in unicorns, Bigfoot and functional programming go for it ;)
Did I mention "unicorns, Bigfoot or functional programming" !?
It is only Appe, M$ AND the "OOP Religion" that I object to.
I registered just to suggest to any budding trader starting out, or trying to put his strategies together.....MotiveWave (and no, I don't work for them).

Brilliant for Multiscreen, and neatly organising multiple studies and analyses across multple timeframes....and if you aren't trading on at least 3 screens, then WTF!? Quite frankly...u need to keep a view on the whole picture, at all times, especially when trading on lower timeframes, and on MotiveWave, even the Community (free) edition has excellent and realistic replay mode, which will play through historical price action across all timeframes on your page.....For Forex traders, u can get data from Oanda (meh) or FXCM (their volume data resembles the actual futures markets pretty well)....a demo account will do...don't need to trade on these platforms if you don't want to, but the price action will resemble to within a smidgeon whatever platform you are trading on, pretty much....easy enough to do your analysis with FXCM data and transfer your levels across to your own broker.

MT4, MT5? GTF outta here! Janky trash. I would rather draw my own charts than work with these. Brokers love these platforms cos they help their traders LOSE.

CTrader? I dunno, ok for execution maybe, seems very limited when compared with other platforms that I have used.
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True that demo can’t solely prepare you for live trading because it’s lacking the psychological and money management aspects of live trading, but I still consider them to be one of the best hands on tools out there. As for platforms, I prefer MT4 over anything else. It could be that I’m partial to it because I’ve been using it since the beginning and feel that it has everything I need.