Traders have several tools at their disposal to make trading more efficient and — potentially — profitable. One such tool is the backtester. Traders use backtesters to test their trading strategies against historical data.
If the backtesting results are positive, traders move forward with the strategy they tested and a boost of confidence in the live trading environment. If not, they adjust their strategies and try again.
These tools are popular among market participants with all levels of trading experience. Even expert traders use them to determine if changes they make to their strategies are advantageous.
The Best Backtesting Software
Our pick for the best backtesting software is an impressive offering that brings a world-class artificial intelligence to the table. It comes with a complete suite of tools that can bring your trading profits to the next level.
We chose the other backtesting platform providers on this list because they do at least one or two things very well at reasonable prices. For example, if you trade in markets like forex or futures, we found a couple of options designed specifically for the assets you trade.
We stand behind every backtesting tool on this list. Read on to find the one that’s right for you.
Best Overall: Trade Ideas
Since 2002, Trade Ideas has been one of the most powerful pieces of trading software you can add to your toolbox.
One tool in the suite is the most impressive backtester we’ve come across — OddsMaker. That’s because OddsMaker doesn’t just use historical data to test your trading strategy. Holly, its AI, combs through the results and shows you how your strategy would have performed across multiple trading scenarios and market conditions. Then she helps pinpoint changes you can make to improve your results.
You can also combine OddsMaker with the company’s AI-driven stock scanner to quickly scan financial markets for trades with the largest profit potential in real-time.
Some other exciting features include:
- Education. Access a comprehensive trading course with multiple webinars and live trading rooms as you develop skills like risk management, building a trading strategy, and using technical indicators.
- Chat Room. Trade Ideas has a robust chat room where you can mingle with the pros and get your questions answered.
- Automated Trading. Let Holly take control of your trading, and there’s no shame in doing so. She has a consistent history of beating average market returns.
The only real downside to the service is that you have to be a Premium member to access the Trade Ideas backtester and most of the tools available. The price for the service is $228 per month, but you can save $737 a year by paying $1,999 annually.
Best for Free Backtesting Software: TradingView
If you’re a beginner and don’t have much money to spend on your trading tools, or an expert who wants a fast and free backtesting solution, TradingView might be just what you’re looking for.
The company has four tiers of service, but the platform’s free option is all you need if you’re just interested in backtesting trading strategies. The tool is one of the easiest to navigate and is completely customizable.
TradingView’s backtesting results are easy to read and come with color-coded charts. This helps you quickly visualize your strategy’s performance through the testing period.
- Great Value for Paying Members. A pro subscription costs between $14.95 and $59.95 per month, depending on the tools you want to unlock. You can also save between $24 and $120 by paying annually instead of monthly, depending on the package you choose.
- Powerful Capabilities for Pros. As a pro, you unlock an ocean of historical and intraday data, technical indicators, charts, and a wide range of other tools for analyzing and exploiting price action in the market.
- Take Advantage of Social Power. The platform features more than 100,000 community-powered technical indicators. These indicators help you determine entry and exit points for the most profitable trading experience.
- Automatic Candlestick Pattern Recognition. It’s easy to spot candlestick patterns on charts because the platform does the spotting for you.
Best for Fundamental Backtesting: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers is a popular brokerage that offers stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), futures, options, mutual funds, and forex trading. Knowing its traders’ success is directly correlated with its own, Interactive Brokers offers a wide range of tools to improve your results.
Its fundamental backtester is one Interactive Brokers tool that really shines.
Most backtesters use algorithmic technical analysis to determine how your strategy would work in the real world. By contrast, Interactive Brokers’s backtester uses fundamental market data to show you how your investment strategy works in the real world. This makes it a perfect option for long-term investors.
- Advanced Data. You can access a wide range of advanced historical and real-time data whether you’re looking for technical trading signals or fundamental data.
- User-Friendly Functionality. The platform comes with a long list of features, but it’s far from convoluted. Everything you need seems to be where you expect it when you need it.
- Commission-Free Trading. Trade domestic stocks and ETFs without paying any broker commission.
Best for Backtesting & Forecasting: MetaStock
MetaStock has become popular for its scanning, backtesting, and forecasting capabilities. The backtester on the platform comes with several pre-built trading strategies and market scenarios. You can also develop and test your own complex trading systems, but you’ll need to do some basic coding to do so.
The backtester is impressive on its own, but the platform goes one step further by making it possible to back and forward test your trading strategies. The MetaStock forecasting tool displays a profit probability cloud based on forward-looking technical indicators, making it easy to visualize your strategy’s probability of success.
Combine the backtester with the forecasting tool to really put your strategy to the test before trading with your hard-earned money.
MetaStock pricing starts at around $100 per month, but pricing depends on the region you’re interested in accessing data from.
- Scanning. Scan multiple different markets for the type of trading opportunities you’re looking for.
- Only Pay for the Tools and Data You Need. MetaStock has an a-la-carte pricing model, which means you don’t have to pay for tools or data you don’t plan on using.
Best for Broker-Connected Backtesting: TradeStation
TradeStation is another leading day trading brokerage among the most active traders. It offers access to a wide range of assets including traditional investments like stocks and ETFs as well as newer asset classes like cryptocurrencies.
TradeStation’s free backtesting tool is an impressive part of its offering and takes advantage of the fact that it’s a broker-connected tool. It has unfettered access to the decades of market data TradeStation has compiled.
TradeStation displays backtesting results in color-coded charts and graphs for easy visualization. Click on each trade to dive further into data like trade size, holding period, and entry and exit indicators and optimize your strategy accordingly.
- Trading Simulator. Double-test your strategy by using the TradeStation paper trading account to see how it does in real-time after positive backtesting results.
- Automated Trading. You can build, optimize, and automate your trading strategy. Every step of the process is beginner-friendly.
- EasyLanguage. EasyLanguage is TradeStation’s proprietary coding language for building custom trading strategies. As its name suggests, it’s one of the easiest coding languages for beginners to pick up.
Best for Forex Traders: Forex Tester
The forex market is the most liquid financial market in the world. It’s also the one with the most volatility, making trading in forex unlike trading in any other financial market. If you’re a forex trader, you want a backtester that’s designed to show how your strategy will do in this fast-paced market.
Forex Tester is the answer.
The tool is a dedicated forex backtesting software that’s designed to show you how your strategy will perform as you trade currency pairs rather than stock market assets. The results are easy to understand, making pinpointing opportunities to improve more efficient.
Moreover, as a dedicated backtesting platform, Forex Tester only does one thing — and does it well. This dedicated focus on building the best backtesting tool for forex trading makes Forex Tester one of the most intuitive options on the market today.
Forex Tester charges a one-time fee of $149 for their base software. Unfortunately, the basic tester has limited capabilities. The software is best combined with the company’s Super data package, which costs $29.99 per month.
- Free Subscription Available. Though the free subscription comes with limited features, it’s a great option if you’re a beginner or if you want to take the try-before-you-buy approach. Active traders building complex strategies need to upgrade to a “Super Data” subscription for either $179 per month, $299 per year, or $549 for lifetime access.
- Several Assets. The platform features data on nearly every currency symbol on the market and more than 20 metals.
- 20 Years of Data. Leverage two decades of forex market data when you backtest your strategy with the forex tester.
Best for Customized Trading Automation: MetaTrader 5 (MT5)
MetaTrader is one of the most popular forex trading platforms online today, making it a familiar name for most active traders. The platform is known for a wide range of advanced trading tools and, of course, one of those tools is a free backtester.
MetaTrader 5 calls its backtester the “Trading Strategy Tester.” Like all others on this list, it uses quality, long-term data to determine how your trading strategy will perform in the live trading environment.
Results from the backtests are easy to read, including charts, graphs, and 3D models that help you visualize how your strategy works. Moreover, because the platform is so popular, if you trade forex, you’re likely already familiar with the flow of the platform.
- Expert Advisors. Expert Advisors are MetaTrader 5’s algorithmic trading robots. You can build your own or choose one of several pre-built options to automate your trading.
- Perfect for Experts. MetaTrader 5 is a great option for expert traders because it comes with all the tools you need to be successful. However, there is a pretty steep learning curve for beginners with this platform.
- Trading Simulator. MetaTrader 5 also has a trading simulator, so you’ll be able to backtest your strategy and confirm your results in real-time without risking any capital.
Best for Spreadsheet Lovers: Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel needs no introduction. It’s one of the most dominant pieces of software in the business and investing world. You can use Excel spreadsheets for everything from simple budgeting to backtesting complex trading strategies.
You can build your own backtester on Excel and apply it to any asset or financial market. But you don’t have to build your own. There are multiple pre-built backtester templates available online. For more information on them, simply search “backtesting templates for Excel” in your favorite search engine and you’ll find plenty of templates and how-to guides.
Microsoft Excel costs about $150 for a one-time purchase that needs to be upgraded from time to time. Alternatively, you can pay $9.99 per month for Microsoft 365.
- Excel-Based Trading. Some brokers, like Interactive Brokers, offer Excel-based trading. That means you can automate your trade execution using Excel and tools like IB Excel API.
- Comfort. I would venture to say that most adults have created an Excel spreadsheet at some point in their lives. Some can’t get enough of it. If spreadsheets are your thing, using Excel is a very comfortable backtesting option.
Best for Futures Traders: NinjaTrader
NinjaTrader is a popular futures trading software and brokerage. The platform is known for its advanced charting capabilities and a wide range of tools that make analyzing futures trading opportunities a breeze.
One of the tools NinjaTrader users enjoy most is its backtester. However, it’s not designed to test stock or ETF trading strategies. Instead, it’s designed to use historical data to see how your strategy would have performed in the futures market.
- Simulated Trading. This is another platform that lets you confirm backtesting results by testing them in a simulated trading environment.
- Great for All Skill Levels. NinjaTraders has all the tools advanced traders need and a layout that makes beginners comfortable.
- Educational Tools. NinjaTrader hosts webinars and offers a wide range of educational materials to help you become a better trader.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Backtesting Software
We use six metrics for determining our recommendation for the best backtesting providers.
We pay close attention to the price you pay and the value you receive as well as several other factors, including the quality of data and ease of use.
Here’s more about each factor we consider.
Value for Price
Some of the backtesters listed here are free to use and others are only accessible with a monthly, annual, or one-time fee. Where fees are unavoidable, we ensure that the backtester, along with all other paid tools, offers plenty of value.
For example, Trade Ideas is one of the most expensive options on this list at $228 per month or $1,999 per year, but its advanced technology makes the price worth paying.
Some backtesters only work for prebuilt strategies and offer little by way of customization capabilities. None of those highly limited options made our list.
All options on this list are 100% customizable, so you can use them with any trading strategy.
When you choose a backtester, it’s important to choose one that has decades of comprehensive market data.
All options on this list have exactly that, with the exception of Excel. If you use Excel, you’ll need to find your own data set provider or build your own datasets in your spreadsheets.
Ease of Use
The vast majority of providers on this list offer easy-to-use platforms that are suitable for beginners and experts.
There is just one exception to that rule: MetaTrader 5, which can be intimidating for beginners. However, its standing as a leading trading platform among experts made it worth leaving on the list.
Other Trading Tools
Most services that offer backtesters offer a wide range of other tools as well. We looked into all the tools available — from AIs to stock screeners to technical indicators — to form an overall opinion of each provider listed.
Finally, we looked into the assets covered by each backtester. We found that some are designed for a specific asset, like Forex Tester, while others offer access to a wide range of assets. Most services on this list have a wider range.
Backtesting Software FAQS
There are tons of backtesters online, prompting questions about what exactly sets them apart. These are some of the most common questions about backtesting software.
Where Can I Backtest for Free?
TradingView is one of the best free backtesting options. Some brokers, like Interactive Brokers, NinjaTrader, and TradeStation, also have free backtesting solutions.
Which Broker Is Best for Backtesting?
Many brokers offer backtesting, but in our opinion, TradeStation is the top broker-direct provider. Interactive Brokers is a close second, if not neck and neck. If you’re a futures trader, NinjaTrader is the way to go.
Can You Backtest on MT5?
Yes, MetaTrader 5 is one of the best backtesting providers online, but there is one caveat: MT5 is designed for the most advanced traders. If you’re a beginner, it may be a bit intimidating.
Is Backtesting Accurate?
Most backtesters are 100% accurate because they’re using historical data. However, their accuracy doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same results in live trading because history doesn’t always repeat itself in the market.
Changes in market conditions, false positives from indicators, and unexpected black swan events will all affect how your strategy works in real-time. Before trading with real money, consider using a trading simulator to see how you’ll do in the live trading environment.
How to Choose the Best Backtesting Software
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert trader, backtesting software is an important tool that you should always have access to. So, how do you pick the software that’s best for you?
Consider the following as you compare the options on this list:
- Price. Do you have it in your budget to pay for the highest-cost premium service? Are you looking for a free option? Are you somewhere between the two? You have to answer these questions to find a price point that works for you.
- Assets You Trade. If you’re a forex trader, a forex-specific backtester like Forex Tester is a great option. If you’re a futures trader, we would strongly recommend signing up for NinjaTrader. Think about what you plan on trading and the provider that best fits the assets you’re interested in.
- Other Features. Most backtesters are part of larger services that include several features. Consider the other features of the service before making your decision, including market simulators, technical indicators, and charting capabilities.