What Is MT4 Portable Mode And Why It Is Useful (full guide)

What Is MT4 Portable Mode And Why It Is Useful (full guide)
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Metatrader uses two separate local directories when you use the desktop version. The first is the installation directory and the second is the data directory where your terminal settings are kept.

MT4 Portable Mode creates the data directory (MQL4 folder) in the same folder as the installation directory so all settings run from the same folder. This allows you to copy it onto a portable or cloud drive and run that version and all its settings on any computer without local installation.

What are the benefits of using MT4 Portable mode:

  • Everything in one place, your data folder and install folder are in the same place and easy to find
  • You can run MT4 from a portable device
  • You can store and run MT4 on a cloud drive service such as DropBox, OneDrive or Google Drive
  • You can run it on multiple devices and keep your settings – profiles, templates and custom indicators
  • You can run MT4 on another device without a local installation
  • Makes keeping a backup of your settings and custom indicators easier as it is all in one folder
  • Run two versions of MT4 off one installation. Useful if you want customisations that goes beyond what can be achieved with templates and profiles

To better understand how portable mode works we need to compare it to a standard installation of MT4. In a normal installation, MT4 would install in the Program Files directory of your PC. To see where it installs, click the settings button when the installer runs.

Normal Install Directory
Normal Install Directory

This is the standard installation folder. After installation, MT4 does not save your settings in the installation folder. MT4 will create a seperate folder on your local PC for this. To see where this is, after installation, run MT4 and then go to your data folder you will find it is in a different location.

How to access the MT4 data folder:

  • Open MT4
  • Click the File menu
  • Click Open Data Folder
Data Folder In Different Location

You will see that your data folder is located in a windows folder associated with appdata. To find it manually you will need to go to your root folder:

C:/Users/YourLoginName/AppData/Roaming/MetaQuotes/Terminal/….

Root Folder
Root Folder

If you got this far then you will see in the Terminal folder a folder with a long 32 character alphanumeric name. If you have had more than one MT4 installation on your PC then it may be hard to figure which belongs to which.

Terminal Folder With A Long 32

To find out, open a folder and then open the text file called origin.txt. This will show the root installation folder linked to that data folder.

The image below summarises how MT4 normally handles data which is a separate installation and data folders.

Installation Folder - Data Folder
Installation Folder - Data Folder

How To Run MT4 in Portable Mode

Quick Steps (assumes MT4 already installed) :

  • Go to the installation folder (normally in Program Files (x86) folder)
  • Create a new shortcut to the terminal.exe file (save to desktop)
  • Right click the shortcut and select Properties
  • In the target field, add a space at the end and type in this modifier at the end: /portable and then save
  • To run, right click the shortcut and select Run as administrator (first time only)
  • You now have two profiles which can run independently (only one can be open at a time)

Detailed Instructions With Pictures:

MT4 Portable Mode does not require a different installation, all that is needed is to modify the way the file is launched by modifying the shortcut. There should already be a shortcut file on your desktop but we are going to create a second one specifically for portable mode.

Note that in the installation folder there is currently no MQL4 folder. You will see how this changes after we run /portable for the first time.

To create a shortcut go to your installation folder and right click on terminal.exe  and select create shortcut.

Create A Shortcut
Create A Shortcut

Next we changed the name of the shortcut to show its purpose and changed the icon back.

Change Shortcut Icon
Change Shortcut Icon

The next step is to right click on the shortcut and select Properties then in the Target section add the modifier /portable.

Add Modifier

Next, right click the shortcut and select Run as administrator. This is only required on the first run as new folders are created. After that it can be run as normal.

After MT4 has launched go to the File menu and select Open Data Folder. You will now see the location of the data folder is in the installation directory which now has additional folders.

Installation Folder Has Additional Folders

You will now have two shortcuts to the same installation but each will have its own settings, profiles and indicators.

This may be useful to to people for instances where you want to customise two versions of MT4 in a way that goes beyond what can be done with templates and profiles, such as having different sets of custom indicators.

Note: Only one of these can run at a time. To learn how to run multiple instances of MT4 from the same broker at the same time, have a look at the related questions section at the end of this article.

Summary Of /Portable Changes

The difference between running MT4 normally and with the /potable instruction is now summarised in the images below.

How To Make MT4 Portable (run on a different computer)

The real usefulness of this MT4 is as the name suggests, to make it portable. So let’s look at how we achieve that.

Step 1 – Copy installation folder

  • Before copying, make sure you have modified the installation folder for portable mode as instructed above
  • Copy the installation folder to a portable device OR
  • Copy the installation folder to a cloud drive service (eg DropBox, OneDrive, GDrive)

Note - it is possible to install a clean version of MT4 on the portable/cloud device if you want to start fresh. To do so run the original installation file, select settings then direct to the portable/cloud drive. Once completed go back to step 1.

Installation To Cloud Drive
Installation To Cloud Drive

Step 2 – Run on another device

The next step will differ depending on whether you want to keep your settings and modifications backed up on the portable/cloud media or if you just want a copy on another device with a snapshot of the current settings.

Option A: Keep your settings intact on the portable/cloud device:

In this method we want to ensure that our settings are always updated and stored on the portable/cloud device. As shown above whenever you run Terminal.exe, MT4 will create a local data folder so we will need to ensure that when running MT4 on the other device we add the /portable instruction again.

  • Access the media on another device
  • For cloud storage you must have the ability to access it via PC file system. EG by installing Drive Stream for Google, or Dropbox or Onedrive file on the computer. This will not work from a browser
  • Locate the terminal.exe file
  • Create a shortcut to the desktop and modify it with the /portable modifier as already described
  • Run the shortcut (not required to run as administrator)
  • After MT4 launches, check the data folder which should point to the portable/cloud device

Option B: Run on another device and create a seperate data folder:

This option is what happens by default if you just ran the terminal.exe file from the device. MT4 will run and create a Data Folder on the local device. 

In this case you will not save any settings made to the portable device. 

This is an option if you want to keep different profiles on different devices but want the option of having a ‘default’ or ‘master’ copy on a portable device. 

How To Run MT4 On A PC Without Installation

By following these steps above you may have noticed that when running MT4 on a second device, you did not have to install it.

To run MT4 on a PC without installing it (if you do not have installation privileges).

  • Install MT4 on a device where you have installation privileges
  • Modify the installation for MT4 Portable mode
  • Copy the modified installation folder to a portable/cloud device
  • Access the portable installation on the second device
  • Launch MT4 by executing the terminal.exe file OR
  • To keep settings saved to the portable device, create a shortcut to the terminal.exe file and modify it with the /portable tag.

Further Benefits Of Portable Mode

Making MT4 portable is by definition the primary benefit, but it also has a few more useful benefits.

Makes Backup Easier

Portable mode keeps all settings in the installation folder. Meaning you can easily backup that one folder to save all your settings. Furthermore, if you have that installation on a cloud drive you have redundancy built in.

Avoid Using Remote Desktop

By using the Portable Mode feature, you can run your preferred setup of MT4 from anywhere using modern cloud drive services or a portable device and can avoid using unreliable remote desktop solutions that can lag or even not connect to the original PC.

Create A Master / Default Copy Of MT4

By using portable mode you can create a master copy of MT4 which can then be copied over to other devices or can be used to restore to a set of predefined defaults.

Run On Multiple PCs

This is theoretically possible via a cloud drive but if you run on multiple devices simultaneously and all are run as portable mode, you will likely get conflicts that will corrupt the installation.

This approach is more realistic if running the launching MT4 from the cloud drive in standard mode which will create local data folders (hub and spoke model)

Related Questions

How To Run Multiple MT4 Terminals From The Same Broker Simultaneously?

It is possible to run multiple MT4 terminals at the same time so long as they have separate installation folders.

To do this launch the original installer from your broker and select Setting.

Select A New Directory For The Installation
Select A New Directory For The Installation

On the next screen select a new directory for the installation. Also change the program group name to differentiate it.

After installation you will have two terminals from the same broker. These will have different data folders so the settings on one will not be replicated on the other.

However, any trades entered will be replicated in both as well as the account balance due to it being the same broker account.

Multiple Terminals
Multiple Terminals

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Justina Nothard

Justina Nothard

Hi, I’m Justina Nothard, a retail investor trading Stock Index Futures.

I understand how hard it can be for the ordinary trader to learn the basics and find useful tools and practical information.

This is why I decided to create Nothard Trading to help you take control of your trading.

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