System Time

Helpful Trading Links & Info

TIME / CLOCK Daily Synchronization

Accurate time is a very important feature for trading so you want to make sure your workstation is always set to the correct time.  I have two workstations that run fast, each PC runs ahead several seconds even in a single day. Because some trading platforms use the local PC clocks for various features and functions, having a PC clock that is synchronized to real-time  as data streaming is important.  Tradestation, for instance, uses the PC clock for their new Market Open bell.  If I have not resynchronized my PC clock in several days, the market bell rings a good 30 seconds before the market actually opens.  This page describes what I  do to make sure my PC clock is synchronized to Wall Street time and the rest of the world.

The Good news is Windows XP and Vista have a time service running (Windows Time Manager [WTM]) and you can easily sync your clock up to a standard internet time source. Follow these directions:

  • Go to the clock in the lower right hand side, or the end of your Taskbar and right-click.
  • Choose “Adjust Date/Time” from the menu selection.
  • Choose the “Internet Time” tab.
  • Select “Change Settings” button (on XP you are already at the Update page)
  • Check the “Synchronize with an Internet time server” box
  • In the pull down menu select a time server.  I use time-a.nist.gov
  • After selecting your time server, click the “Update now” button
  • If successful, you should get a message that looks something like this:
The clock was successfully synchronized with time-a.nist.gov on 1/10/2008 at 10:23 PM.
  • Click “OK” if it didn’t work successfully try again.  If still not successful try some other time servers until you find one that works for you.
  • Back on the “Internet Time” tab, you should see a message that looks like this:
Next synchronization: 1/17/2008 at 10:23 PM.
  • Click “OK” and you should be done.
Note that the default for auto-synchronizing is a week. For me waiting a week for synchronizing is to too long.  I would be over a full minute ahead by that time. My choices are to go everyday and do the procedure above, or type a command I will share with you in the run bar, or change the registry to a more frequent synchronizing update.  For  the first option, going through the above procedure everyday, you have all that information above.  The second option  is to type in the following command:

  • Go to your Start menu
  • On XP select RUN …
  • On VISTA where it says “Start Search” in the lower box on the start menu…
  • Type in the following:  W32TM /Resync
  • Hit Return and you should be all sync’d up.

If the command box sits around for awhile it means that it was most likely not successful.  You might want to keep trying until the box basically flashes very quickly.  So now you have a quicker, keyboard way of synchronizing you system clock.

If you are comfortable using regedit, you can change a registry setting and have the update happen automatically once a day.  I am not going to put a procedure to edit the registry, I am going to assume you know how to do this.  If you don’t then you shouldn’t.  Here is the registry key you need to go to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\NtpClient

At this key location you should see the field “ SpecialPollInterval “.  It will most likely have the value 604800 (decimal) set.  This is the number of seconds in a week.  Reset this value to 86400, which is the number of seconds in a 24 hour period. Exit out of regedit and you should be all set.

To set the time-of-day that WTM resynchronizes,use the procedure above to go to the synchronizing window and synchronize at the time you want it to use every day, I have it done around 8am before the market starts.  You should see the next synchronization time now be 24 hours away.

You now will have a highly accurate clock, one you need for successful trading.  To find a good solution to display that time see below.  This is a good alternative to the System Clock.


A Good Alternative to the System Clock.

I trade daily with 1, 5 and 15 minute bars.  In order to know exactly when the next bar arrives I have this little clock program installed which  sits at the top of my trading screen out of the way.  The name of the shareware program is TopMostClock (Top Most Clock).  There is a free version.  Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Download TopMostClock : http://www.softdemon.com/freeclock/

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