Don’t Let Avoidable Hardware Failures Handcuff Your Trading

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any time at all, you already understand the importance of regular back-ups. In fact, if you’ve just been using a personal computer for any time at all, you understand about back-ups. Sometimes files and data just get gone. Stuff happens. You might accidentally delete something. Your laptop might get stolen. But in my experience, the most likely cause of data loss is hardware failures. Hard drives don’t last forever. Other computer components don’t last forever. Your trading computer has many critical hardware components:  CPUs, GPUs, RAM, hard disks, fans, and more. Failure of any one of these components will bring your trading to a halt, and may result in data loss. What you may not know about is that there are multiple easy ways to regularly monitor the state of your hardware. Such hardware monitoring can prolong the life of your trading desktop and/or laptop. By identifying potential hardware failures, you will have the opportunity to proactively replace aging components. You can therefore avoid those hardware failures and the subsequent loss of data and trading opportunities. It takes a little extra time, but could save you some big bucks. Not to mention, prevent some big trading losses. Here are some useful monitoring tools to know about.

Windows Native Tools

Windows ships with a couple of handy tools to let you see what’s going on inside your trading computer.

Performance Monitor

Performance Monitor can help you see the various CPU, network, disk, and memory processes running on your Windows computer. You can open the application using Cortana, or you can go to the Start menu and search for Performance Monitor. Performance Monitor provides real-time graphs of various components in your trading computer. If you regularly check these graphs, you’ll start noticing abnormal behaviors. The abnormal behaviors might be early indications that your hard disk is about to die or your CPU is getting overheated due to dust accumulation.

Windows Memory Diagnostic

Modern computers use RAM (random access memory) for keeping information ready for the CPU to process. RAM can read and write (store) data faster than your hard disk. So your trading computer reads data from the hard disk and stores it (temporarily) in the RAM for faster access. However, due to the frequent reads and writes, RAM performance deteriorates over time. You can check your RAM’s health using the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool. This tool reads from and writes test data to RAM to see how well it performs. The tool does require a machine restart. Begin from the run window by pressing WIN + R or right-click Start > Run. Type mdsched.exe and hit Enter. This will prompt you to restart Windows. Once Windows restarts, you’ll see a screen that runs the test. If there are any problems in the report, consult a hardware specialist to figure out a resolution.

Third-Party Tools

Besides Windows-supplied tools, you may also want to try out some of the following applications to find out more about the status of your trading computer hardware.

MemTest86

MemTest86 can complement your Windows Memory Diagnostic tool. It also checks for RAM errors. It can handle a lot of variations of RAM memory like DDR2, DDR4, and others. It’s a tool that is used by professionals to pinpoint memory-related issues. MemTest86 has both free and paid versions. It runs from a USB flash drive, so you can use it to help diagnose a catastrophic system failure, as well as to keep tabs on current performance.

Seagate SeaTools

Seagate SeaTools for Windows can help you see if anything is wrong with your hard drive, regardless of manufacturer. SeaTools tests for media defects, reading, and the physical head, and ensures the hard drive is functioning properly. It’s a free tool, and easy to use.

HDD Scan

HDD Scan is also another free hard disk testing program. It can detect early signs of disk problems. HDDScan allows you to choose between short and long tests, and displays results with helpful red-yellow-green status indicators.

HWiNFO

HWiNFO is a professional-grade monitoring tool for CPUs, GPUs, and chipsets. NASA uses HWiNFO to monitor its hardware. It might be more complex than the average trader would want. However, if you want a tool that will give a comprehensive look at what’s going on inside your trading computer, this could be a good option. You can try out the tool for free, so it might be worth checking out the various features.

CoreTemp

For traders, CoreTemp is probably the easiest and quickest thing to implement to keep your trading computer hardware functioning at peak performance. In fact, my tech support guys recommend it to all our customers. It’s a simple, free app that shows the temperature of each individual core of every processor in your trading computer. Click the setting to run it when Windows starts. If you don’t shut your trading computer down every night, you might want to put this app on your taskbar so you remember to look at it every day. When you see the temperatures start to get high, you know it’s time to dust off your computer’s air intakes. (I try to keep my temps below 100-degrees Fahrenheit or 37-degrees Celsius.) Keeping cool is critical to the performance and lifespan of your heat-generating processors, and dusting the vents is just so easy to do. There is no excuse not to take this simple precaution.

Conclusion

Early detection of hardware problems can prevent trading computer system failures, loss of data, and trading losses. Check out the above tools to see which ones might make sense for your business protection plan.
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. Photo by Matt Wildbore on Unsplash.