Last spring, I wrote a post on spring cleaning your computer. That article was all about getting rid of unnecessary files and defragmenting your hard drive. It’s obvious that keeping the inner (data storage) workings clean will improve your computer’s performance (and, ultimately, your trading performance).
What might not be quite so obvious is that keeping the outer (physical) parts clean can improve your computer’s performance as well. Things like sticky keys and dust build-up aren’t just unsightly. They can cause just as many small, insidious performance problems as having wasted space on your hard drive.
So THIS spring, I thought I’d give you some tips on why and how to clean the visible parts of your computer.
WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR COMPUTER CLEAN
- KEYBOARDS are notorious germ carriers. A germy keyboard increases your risk of illness. Being sick reduces your ability to focus and make good trading decisions.
- STICKY KEYS or CRUMBS in your keyboard slow down your data entry. For traders, anything that slows you down increases your risk.
- DUST or SPOTS on your MONITORS can affect your ability to correctly interpret what’s on the screen. You need a crystal clear view of charts and other information to make the best decisions.
- DUST on CABLES, CPU CASES, MODEMS, and EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES can get sucked into these devices where they can gum up fans and create an insulating blanket on components. The net result is a gradual decrease in performance as internal temperatures increase.
- HUMANS unconsciously react to their surroundings. Clean surroundings will have a positive affect on YOUR general outlook. The more positive you feel, the better you’ll perform as a trader.
CLEANING YOUR KEYBOARD
- To clean the key caps, first either disconnect the keyboard or turn your computer off. (You wouldn’t want to accidentally take an action while you’re cleaning.) Then just lightly wipe the entire surface of the keyboard with a microfiber cloth dampened with a little rubbing alcohol. (A little alcohol goes a long way.) Alternatively, you could use a disinfecting wipe, but alcohol is a lot cheaper.
- To get loose dry bits out from under your keys, start by just turning the keyboard upside down and shaking. To get out even more, use compressed air (see below).
- If you own a regular keyboard, getting rid of sticky liquids is a little dicey. If the liquid is already dry, you can try pulling off keycaps and cleaning with a foam applicator and alcohol. But you may have to just throw out the whole sticky mess.
- If you have just now spilled soda on it, take the keyboard to the sink, turn it sideways, and rinse it with water. Prop it up on its side to drain and wait 2 days. Then pray it still works. (Tip: Don’t set drinks next to your keyboard. Ever.)
CLEANING YOUR MONITORS
- If you can get away with just dusting the monitor, do that. Use compressed air (see below) or a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
- If you get a few spots that dusting can’t handle, dampen a microfiber cloth with a little distilled water. (Tap water can leave mineral deposits and film.) Use just enough liquid to get the job done.
- For really nasty grime, mix 50% distilled water and 50% white household vinegar. Again, use just enough liquid to get the job done.
MORE ABOUT MONITORS
- Don’t let fingers touch your monitors in the first place. (Even clean fingers leave a little oil.) If you must point to something, use the eraser end of a pencil or the cap end of a pen.
- Keep food and beverages away from the general area of your computer.
- NEVER use alcohol or ammonia-based cleaners. (This means NO Windex!)
- NEVER spray cleaner directly on the monitor. Wipe away any dripping liquid before it gets to the bottom of the screen. If liquid drips down into the bezel, it will get wicked up into the layers that make up your monitor screen and ruin the bottom of the screen.
- Never use paper towels, kitchen towels, or household rags. Microfiber ONLY.
- Always wipe with broad strokes from top to bottom or from left to right. Never wipe in small circles that could potentially create buffed out spots.
- Always use a light touch.
CLEANING OTHER EXTERIOR SURFACES
- Wipe CPU cases, cables, modems, etc. with a slightly dampened microfiber cloth. Dampen with water or alcohol.
- Use lint-free foam swabs (rather than cotton swabs) to clean hard-to-reach areas.
- Suck dust away from air intake grids with a battery-powered vacuum. Avoid using plug-in vacuums as they create potentially damaging static electricity.
USING COMPRESSED AIR
Using canned air to dust computer components has been popular for years. Before you grab that can, here are some things to consider.
- Rather than buying canned air, you might choose to go green and get one of the new battery-operated models that are like mini leaf blowers. Two alternatives are Canless Air and Compu Cleaner.
- Regardless of which product you choose, remember that blowing air around isn’t getting rid of the dust, it’s only moving the dust. If you blow the dust off indoors, the dust is just going to land on some other surface. Some of it will come back to roost on the surface you just cleaned. If you can, use air blowers out of doors, and leave the dust out there.
I hope I’ve inspired you to clean up!
There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyers guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250