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ClockWatch Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About ClockWatch Features:

Questions About ClockWatch Trial Download and Installation:

Questions about PC Clocks and Timekeeping:

Related links:

Why does anyone need ClockWatch?
Computer Clocks are notoriously inaccurate and people need accurate time on their computers for accurate file dating, scheduling, coordination and record keeping.

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What are the different ways I can use ClockWatch?

Scenario 1 - Casual User, Manual Mode
ClockWatch is installed and run like a regular program whenever the user thinks of it, or as part of a regular maintenance routine.

Profile: For this user, accurate time is important when needed.

Scenario 2 - Power User, Daily Mode
ClockWatch is installed and running in the System Tray. The mode is set to 'daily' and the time is set when the Internet connection is typically up.

Profile: For this user, accurate time is important daily and ClockWatch makes the setting daily.

Scenario 3 - Mission Critical, Periodic Mode
ClockWatch is installed and running in the System Tray (or as an NT Service) in the Periodic mode. The user has selected an interval that in practice has proven to keep the clock within a comfortable level of accuracy.

Profile: For this user, accurate time is needed several times a day. Since the system utilization varies over the day, the ClockWatch software checks that the clock is correct several times each day.

Scenario 4 - File Server, Auto Mode
ClockWatch is installed and running in the System tray (or as an NT Service) in the Auto Mode. ClockWatch calculates when to make the next setting based on the accuracy required by the user and the traditional Clock Drift experienced on that system.

Profile: For this user, accurate time is critical and system load and utilization is fairly consistent.

Scenario 5 - Scientific, Once Mode br> ClockWatch is installed and running in the Once mode. The time is scheduled to make a setting before the user begins a particularly critical program or test when time must be correct, or when coordination with outside machines or processes is critical.

Profile: For this user, accurate time at a certain point in time is critical.

Scenario 6 - Dial-up Desktop user, Manual Mode
This user uses ClockWatch whenever they're logged onto the net, which might be once a day or a few times a week.

Profile: For this user, convenience and ease of use are key

Scenario 7 - Direct-connect Laptop user, Manual Mode
This Laptop user uses the direct connect feature of ClockWatch. They use the internal laptop modem to dial into the NIST for a quick time fix.

Profile: For this user, setting the clock can be done anywhere, any time.

Scenario 8 - Embedded Application, Batch Mode
ClockWatch is configured in the Windows 98 Task Scheduler or the user's System Assistant in Microsoft Plus+ profile, which is part of their regular maintenance routine. This task is set to run every night at 3 AM when Internet access is first available.

Profile: For this user, accurate time is as simple as 'set it and forget it'.

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Is ClockWatch a solution for NASD OATS compliance?

ClockWatch offers an excellent strategy for OATS compliance.  ClockWatch Server maintains correct time by accessing external timeservers over the Internet or through a directly dialed connection.  The ClockWatch host server's job is to keep the time accurate on the host and to process requests and send appropriate responses. The ClockWatch Client's job is to send requests to the ClockWatch server to maintain the correct time.  All interaction with external timeservers is done by the host server. The communication link with the clients must be a network (e.g., Ethernet) connection.

Beagle Software's optional DocuClock time stamper provides a printed record of the exact time.  This product is especially useful for business applications that require documented time, such as equity traders.

Beagle Software's systems offer you an easy way to implement OATS compliance to every Windows PC on your LAN

    More information on OATS compliance

    More information on DocuClock

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Will ClockWatch work with my dial-up Internet connection?

Yes. ClockWatch will work with all dial-up Internet Service providers that allow access to the Internet.

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Can ClockWatch connect to timeservers using a direct modem connection?

ClockWatch Pro and Server editions offer a direct modem connection, allowing you to synchronize your clock dialing the NIST with a directly connected modem. Instead of connecting to a timeserver over the Internet, the NIST is dialed directly with a modem, the time signal is synchronized, and the time reading is made.  It provides a handy alternative when an Internet connection is unavailable or impractical. 

Steps to use the direct modem connection:

  • Have a modem (internal or external) connected to a serial port. The modem must be first installed under Windows.
  • Select the communications port used for the modem on the direct modem connection form. Set the modem speed between 300 and 9600 baud. The time signal will be adjusted to compensate for slower connections.
  • Modify the phone number or dialing prefix if you can’t dial long distance numbers directly (or you happen to be in the same area code as the NIST)
  • Test the connection by pressing the 'Set Time' button on the main form.
  • If the modem has a speaker, listen that the modem goes off hook, gets dial tone, and dials the number.
  • The computers will handshake and synchronize. The NIST will adjust the time signal to reflect the transmission time to communicate over the modem.
  • When ClockWatch has a 'time fix' it will hang up the modem and set the clock. The whole process usually takes around 30 seconds.

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What time setting options does ClockWatch offer?

ClockWatch features a rich array of setting modes that give you lots of flexibility in how it does its work.


Provides for on-demand settings only. Use the "Set Time" button to make a time setting at any time.


To schedule a single setting in the future. The date and time of this scheduled setting is shown in the middle window of the screen.


To schedule a setting at the same time once a day. Once specified, ClockWatch will attempt to make a setting each day at that time if the program is running.


To schedule settings with fixed timed intervals between settings. This provides for a setting to be made at a specific time interval - once every hour, 8 hours, 2 days etc.


The program determines when to make the next setting based on the accuracy of previous settings and the accuracy level desired. Using information from the last setting where the clock was changed, ClockWatch determines when the next setting needs to occur to maintain the accuracy you've selected. For example, if your computer loses time at the rate of two minutes per day and the desired accuracy is one minute per day, then ClockWatch will make a setting at least* every 12 hours.

* Since the rate of loss is not constant for most computers, an uncertainty factor is used in making the scheduled time calculation.

Usage Summary:

Manual when you want to make a setting quickly.
Once when you want to set the clock at a given time in the future, for example to synchronize with another computer or system.
Daily to maintain the clock's accuracy at a reasonable level suitable for most users.
Auto is best when the desired level of accuracy is known and the time drift is relatively constant.
Periodic is appropriate for the most demanding environments when the clock must be kept within several seconds of standard time.

Use Auto or Periodic when the accuracy of the system is crucial:
      To select one or the other, run ClockWatch in the Periodic mode for several days with an interval of eight hours.  If the time difference between readings is relatively constant, then the Auto setting will probably be the best choice. If readings differ widely, then Periodic should be chosen at a rate to handle the worst (largest time difference) case.

You may also set ClockWatch to set time automatically on start-up.  Click here for instructions on doing this.

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What do the graphic displays show?

The three graphs on the main screen are useful for displaying the accuracy of the computer clock from readings over a time period.

  • Current Settings graph shows the difference in seconds between two successive readings.
  • Clock Drift graph converts that difference into an accuracy reading as expressed in seconds of drift in clock time per 24 hour period. While Current Settings will show the actual amount of time the clock was adjusted, the Clock Drift chart provides an indication of the system clock’s accuracy over a given period.
  • Previous Settings graph (Pro edition) gives a good summary of the computer's time accuracy performance since ClockWatch was installed.

    More information on ClockWatch's graphs

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What additional features are in the Pro edition?

All editions except ClockWatch Basic offer enhanced usability and analysis features.  These include:

  • Previous Settings graph to monitor the computer's clock accuracy over time, 
  • Option to run ClockWatch from the command line mode (DOS)
  • Option to run ClockWatch from the system tray. 
  • Option to view the ClockWatch time in the taskbar.
  • Option to run ClockWatch continuously while you are connected to the Internet.

    Comparison chart of ClockWatch features

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Can I store the results of the settings in a file or log?

ClockWatch can store all the settings made on the system to a file. This can be useful in a variety of ways:

  • As a record of system performance.
  • As a long term indicator of system clock drift over time.
  • As a source of information on when Internet access is available.
  • As an input to other programs such as a spread sheet or database program where further analysis would be done.

        More information on logging ClockWatch activity

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Does ClockWatch work with the NIST, NTP and Daytime protocols?

Yes.   All versions of ClockWatch work with NIST protocols, and ClockWatch Pro and Enterprise editions work with NIST, NTP, Daytime timeservers.

    More information on ClockWatch's connection options

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Can I test if I can connect to a timeserver?

You can verify that you can establishing a connection to a timeserver using telnet. Telnet, included as a utility with Windows, allows user to specify an address and port to test. To test a connection:

  1. Open an MS-DOS Window.
  2. Type the address followed by the port to connect to. Most timeservers use port 13 (the daytime port) for time queries.
  3. The result of the time string should be visible in the telnet window.
  4. Telnet will report that the connection to the host is lost even though the time string has arrived. This is normal.
  5. If the server does not respond, it is possible that either:
  • The timeserver is not currently in operation. Try another.
  • The server does not accept time requests from unregistered IP addresses. Some servers require that you register your IP address before servicing your time request.
  • The server does not use port 13.
  • You are sitting behind a proxy server that restricts communication over the Internet. You must talk to the proxy server, which can then relay the request to the timeserver. See the User Guide section on firewalls and proxy servers.
  • Your connection to the Internet is not working.

A typical Telnet session:

C:\WINDOWS>telnet time-a.nist.gov 13

49010 93-01-23 22:01:22 00 0 0 50.0 UTC(NIST) *
(Telnet will then report connection to host is lost)

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Is there a list of timeservers around the world?

Yes. There are several hundred  timeservers around the globe, many of them public. Refer to the list from David Mills at http://www.eecis.udel.edu/~mills/ntp/servers.html We are currently preparing a list of timeservers that we have verified will work with ClockWatch and are publicly available.

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Does ClockWatch work in countries other than the U.S.?

Yes. The time standard that ClockWatch uses is Universal Time, the descendant of Greenwich Standard time. Universal Time is the world time standard.  If you find your time zone on the map in the time settings tab of the Windows Date/Time Control Panel, then ClockWatch will work for you. ClockWatch shows date and time is the format selected in the Windows Regional Settings control applet.

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Can I run the program automatically without me doing anything?

Yes.  ClockWatch Pro and Enterprise editions have the ability to learn about the behavior of your system's clock and determine when it needs to make the next time setting to keep your clock accurately set. 

ClockWatch determines when to make the next setting based on the system's history and the accuracy level desired.  ClockWatch determines when the next setting needs to occur to keep your clock synchronized.

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Can I run ClockWatch automatically at startup?

The Pro version allows for you to start up ClockWatch when the computer is started. ClockWatch will appear as an icon in the system tray and configured to make its settings automatically or can be called up for setting manually.

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Can I run the program from the command line?

Yes. ClockWatch can be operated in an unattended mode from the Windows 95/NT or MS-DOS command line. This allows unattended or batch operation which allows for:

  • Execution from other programs.
  • Starting from remote computers.
  • Starting from scheduling programs such as Microsoft Plus+.
  • Inclusion in batch files.

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Can I run ClockWatch from the system tray instead of the taskbar?

Yes. The Pro version of ClockWatch can be operated in the background mode from the Windows  system tray.  ClockWatch automatically loads, operates and runs in the background. The ClockWatch Pro icon will be available in the System Tray after ClockWatch Pro is loaded.  

    More information on running ClockWatch from the system tray

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Can ClockWatch test if my hardware is having Y2K problems?

Yes.  ClockWatch has undergone a rigorous review of Year 2000 (Y2K) related processes and methods. Beagle Software meets the industry's best practices for addressing the century date change.

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Does ClockWatch  work behind corporate firewalls?

Does ClockWatch  work behind proxy servers?

Yes. The current version of ClockWatch can be configured to work behind corporate firewalls or proxy servers. 

    More information on using ClockWatch behind firewalls

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Can ClockWatch run as a service in Windows  NT/2k/XP?

Yes.  ClockWatch can run as a service in Windows.   A Service is a Windows-specific system function that runs in a special area under Windows NT,  Windows 2000 or Windows XP/2003. ClockWatch  contains an additional module, ClockWatch Service, which can be installed as a Service under Windows NT/2k/XP/2003. This allows ClockWatch Service to run in the special service area of the operating system.

In ClockWatch Server, the program maintains a copy of the run-time options for use by the service module. When running as a service, ClockWatch does all the clock-synchronization activities without intervention running from the parameters specified by the user using the normal ClockWatch application.

To install ClockWatch as a service:

Install and configure ClockWatch Server on the system.  The service uses the ClockWatch parameters you specify in the regular ClockWatch interface.

Register the Service module by choosing "Register CW Service" under the file menu.
This will register the service with the operating system.

Start and run the service like any other service by using the Windows NT administrative interface.

To start the ClockWatch service, use the Control Panel Services applet. This applet lets you start, stop, pause or continue the execution of services. You can also use it to specify if you want ClockWatch to be started at boot time, and if you want a simple user interface to be visible. 

    Note: ClockWatch Service must be run in the System context.

    More information on installing ClockWatch as a Windows service

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Can ClockWatch run in a multi-platform environment?

Yes.  ClockWatch can be installed in a multi-platform environment supporting Windows, Novell, IBM, Macintosh or Linux.   ClockWatch Server supports all of the major time sync protocols available, and acts as a time server for the network.  Clients  running ClockWatch Client or a variety of standard time sync applications, call on ClockWatch Server for their time.

    More info on running ClockWatch in a multi-platform environment

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What are the restrictions in the trial version of ClockWatch?

The trial version of ClockWatch is fully functional software. Registered users get some additional features found in the Pro version of the software.

How do I register my trial software?

You can register on Beagle Software's web site, send an order form via postal mail, E-mail, or fax, or call Beagle Software.

Does ClockWatch  work with AOL?

Yes. ClockWatch has been compliance-tested with AOL versions 3 and 4. See the AOL usage bulletin.

Why can't I start ClockWatch after installation?

Link here for a list of common installation problems.  If, after reviewing this, you still experience problems, please contact Beagle Software support with the exact text of the error message you are seeing.

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Why are computer clocks so inaccurate?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology -- the keeper of the atomic clock -- has found that computer clocks are inaccurate due to the design limitations of the first PCs. The problem arises from the use of two time keeping systems in every computer. One resides in the computer's hardware, the other is maintained by the operating system's software. The hardware clock runs continuously, but is often inaccurate because of design limitations, temperatures changes, and diminished battery voltage. The software clock starts as the computer is booted and is set from the hardware clock. While the software clock is more accurate, it relies on the hardware clock (which can be off several minutes each day) for its initial and periodic settings.  

    More information on PC clocks

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How much time does my computer clock lose each day?

The time loss varies by computer and depends on the configuration of your hardware and software.  Some computers lose very little time, some lose many seconds per day.  

    Click here to check your computer's time clock accuracy

    More information on PC clocks

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What actually keeps time in my computer, is it the BIOS or the O/S?

Both.  Two time-of-day clocks reside in every IBM-compatible computer. These clocks go by several different names, but for simplicity, we'll call them the software and hardware clocks. The software clock runs only when the computer is turned on. It stops when the computer is turned off. The hardware clock uses a battery and runs even while the computer is turned off.

Every computer that runs DOS or Windows has a built-in software clock within the operating system.  The timer-counter is programmed by the BIOS to generate an interrupt every 54.936 milliseconds, or about 18.206 times per second. Another BIOS routine counts the interrupt requests and generates a time-of-day clock that can be read or set by other software programs. For example, Windows uses the information from the software clock when it date and time stamps files.

The software clock is useful, but it has several limitations. First, the software clock is a poor timekeeper. Its accuracy is limited by the stability of the interrupt requests, and any change in the interrupt request rate causes the clock to gain or lose time.  Another problem with the software clock is that it cannot display all possible time-of-day values. The resolution of the clock is limited to the interval between interrupts, or about 55 milliseconds as stated earlier. Only times that are even multiples of this interval can be displayed.

The hardware clock is supported by the BIOS, and BIOS services are available that let software programs read and set the clock.  It is a CMOS device that consumes very little power. When the computer is turned off, it runs on batteries. When the computer is turned back on, the software clock starts running again and sets itself (within 1 second) to the hardware clock. Although the two clocks are synchronized at start-up, they may run at very different rates and will probably gain or lose time relative to each other while the computer is running.

    More information on PC clocks

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Can you tell me about GMT and time standards?

GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) is a 24 hour astronomical time system based on the local time at Greenwich, England. GMT can be considered equivalent to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when fractions of a second are not important. However, by international agreement, the term UTC is recommended for all general timekeeping applications, and use of the term GMT is discouraged.

    More information on time standards

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Can I run ClockWatch on a Macintosh computer?

You cannot run ClockWatch on a Mac, unless the Mac is a client to a Windows server. 

Time sync options for Mac users    

Information on running ClockWatch in a mixed platform environment

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Copyright © 2007 Beagle Software. All rights reserved
Last reviewed March 19, 2008