For Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000 and XP
Atomic Time Zone Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Atomic Time Zone Features:

Questions About Atomic Time Zone Trial Download and Installation:

Questions about PC Clocks and Timekeeping:

Related links:

Why does anyone need Atomic Time Zone?
Computer Clocks are notoriously inaccurate and people need accurate time on their computers for accurate file dating, scheduling, coordination and record keeping. Its also a good solution for setting all your clocks accurately.

For Corporate Networks, accurate time on each networked computer is essential.
I actually prepared an entire page just for this question...

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What are the different ways I can use Atomic Time Zone?

Scenario 1 - Casual User, Manual Operation
Atomic Time Zone 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 Operation
Atomic Time Zone is installed and running in the System Tray. The mode is set to once or twice every 24 hours and the time is set when the Internet connection is typically up.

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

Scenario 3 - Mission Critical, Frequent Operation
Atomic Time Zone is installed and running in the System Tray with a more freqent interval. The user has selected an interval that in practice has proven to keep the clock within a comfortable level of accuracy. For example, once every hour.

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

Scenario 4 - Very Frequent
Atomic Time Zone is installed and running in the System tray in an even more frequent mode. Atomic Time Zone has an interval to update less than each hour.

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

Scenario 5 - Scientific, Run Once Mode
Atomic Time Zone is installed and running Once then Closed. 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. (Command Line Operation -ro)

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

Scenario 6 - Run Once Maintainance
Atomic Time Zone 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 setting it for maintainance and forgetting it.

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Is Atomic Time Zone a solution for NASD OATS compliance?

Atomic Time Zone offers an excellent strategy for OATS compliance.  Atomic Time Zone Server maintains correct time by accessing external timeservers over the Internet using the time servers closest to your geographical region.  The Atomic Time Zone host server's job is to keep the time accurate on the host and to process requests and send appropriate responses. The Atomic Time Zone Client's job is to send requests to the Atomic Time Zone Server to maintain the correct time.  All interaction with external timeservers is done by the host server (For Example Atomic Time Zone Server Edition).

  This product is especially useful for business applications that require documented time, such as equity traders.

Atomic Time Zone Software systems offer you an easy way to implement OATS compliance to every Windows PC on your LAN.

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Will Atomic Time Zone work with my dial-up Internet connection?

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

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What time setting options does Atomic Time Zone offer?

Atomic Time Zone features a rich array of setting modes that give you lots of flexibility in how it does its work. Setup is Extremely simple.

Synchronize Every: Number of Second/s | Minute/s | Hour/s | Day/s

Example Synchronize Every: 5 Minute/s

Atomic Time Zone will Synchronize every 5 Minutes.

Example Synchronize Every: 5 Hour/s

Atomic Time Zone will Synhcronize every 5 Hours.

Example Synchronize Every: 360 Second/s

Same as Every: 6 Minutes. Atomic Time Zone will Synchronize every 360 Seconds.

Run Once

Runs Atomic Time Zone with the -ro Option, Synchronizes your Clock, and closes.

Usage Summary:

Synchronize Every: # Enables you to have ultimate control of Synchronization with many options of Seconds, Minutes, Hours, or Days.

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What additional features are in the Server Edition?

Atomic Time Zone Server contains the Atomic Clock Servers for NIST/Time (port 37 RFC 868) and Daytime (port 13 RFC 867), Unix (Port 519) and Network Time Protocol Servers (Port 123) all built in.

  • Built in Atomic Clock Synchronization for the Server itself.
  • Ability to run as a Windows Service.
  • Only time server in the world to support all 4 major time protocols at once.
  • Custom ATZ Server Protocol and Server Client built specifically for ATZ Server.
  • Administrator configurable Port Settings for Servers.
  • Fully NIST Compliant Daytime Server (Uses ACTS System)
  • Supports both TCP and UDP Protocols for all time protocols simultaneously.

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Does Atomic Time Zone work with the NIST/Time and Daytime protocols?

Yes.   All versions of Atomic Time Zone work with NIST/Time protocols, and Atomic Time Zone Server operates NIST/Time, and Daytime Server Services.

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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.
  • Your connection to the Internet is not working.

A typical Telnet session:

C:\WINDOWS>telnet 13

49010 02-01-02 23:01:30 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. All Versions of Atomic Time Zone contain a Server File, which can be easily updated or edited. The ATZ File contains a list of working Atomic Time Zone Servers located in all the major regions around the world. A Pull-Down List with Names and Regional Locations of Each Server as well as the Country Flag is displayed.

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Does Atomic Time Zone work in countries other than the U.S.?

Yes. The time standard that Atomic Time Zone uses is Universal Time Code, the descendant of Greenwich Standard or Greeenwich Mean 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 Atomic Time Zone will work for you.

While most Atomic Time Servers are located in the United States, the ATZ Server File contains Servers located in all major regions of the world, and Atomic Time Zone will use those if you configure it to.

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Can I run the program automatically without me doing anything?

Yes.  Atomic Time Zone Regular Edition and Atomic Time Zone Server Edition each have built in Automatic Defaults (Synchronize Every 59 Minute/s). You may also configure each to run every time Windows Starts. 

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Can I run Atomic Time Zone automatically at startup?

Yes. You also have the ability to configure whether or not Atomic Time Zone will open Minimized (in the tasktray as an icon) or as a full program screen. ATZ Server and the ATZ Server Client are also capable of running as a Windows Service.

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Can I run the program from the command line?

Yes. Atomic Time Zone Regular Edition and the ATZ Server Client can be operated in an unattended mode from the Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP 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.
  • There are 2 Command Line options for Regular and the ATZ Server Client and 1 for Server Editions:
  • -ro RunOnce (Open, Synchronize, then Close) [Regular Edition]
  • -rs RunSilent (Open, and Run Silently Without a User Interface) [not used with ATZ Server Windows Service editions]

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Can I run Atomic Time Zone from the system tray instead of the taskbar?

Yes. This is the Open Minimized Option discussed earlier.

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Does Atomic Time Zone  work behind corporate firewalls?

Does Atomic Time Zone  work behind proxy servers?

Yes. Atomic Time Zone should work fine in both environments.

ATZ Server can run behind a proxy, but this is not the ideal environment. Running ATZ Server in a proxy environment would limit it to 1 time outside server, the one it is bound to via the proxy server and port.

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What are the restrictions in the trial versions of Atomic Time Zone?

A Simple Time Limit. The trial version of Atomic Time Zone and Atomic Time Zone Server Edition are fully functional software for their trial periods (currently 15 days). In order to use Atomic Time Zone past the trial period, you must register.

How do I register my trial software?

You can register and purchase securely online at AMO's web site.

Does Atomic Time Zone work with AOL?

Yes. Atomic Time Zone has been compliance-tested with AOL versions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (all regions).

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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.  

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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, or even minutes per day.  

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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.

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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.

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