Manual for TimeCopy 1.4

TimeCopy is © 2001-2002 Gert-Jan Vons

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This is version 1.4 of TimeCopy, a PalmOS application and a conduit that work together to copy your computer's time to your handheld at every hotsync. The handheld clocks are known to drift a little, but once you install TimeCopy, you don't need to worry about that anymore.

Note that TimeCopy's adjustments and statistics are only as reliable as your computer's clock, so make sure the latter is adjusted and that its timezone and Daylight Saving Time parameters are correct. See also the FAQ.

You can distribute this program freely. If you find any bugs or have other remarks, please let me know.

TimeCopy's main features are:

It has been tested on a Handera 330 (PalmOS 3.5.3) a PalmIII (PalmOS 3.3), and a PalmPilot 1000 (PalmOS 1.0). Additional tests have been done with emulated Sony CLIE devices, Visors, and emulated Palm devices running PalmOS 4.x.



TimeCopy runs on all PalmOS devices with PalmOS version 1.0 or higher. In order to install TimeCopy on your handheld, you need 15KByte of free memory.

The Windows conduit works with HotSync manager version 3.0 and higher, and runs under Windows 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP.

For information about the MacOS conduit, see below.


Where to get the latest version

The latest version of TimeCopy can be found on the PalmGear and VersionTracker web sites.

A MacOS distribution is maintained by Scott Gruby, his web page can be found here:

The MacOS conduit is also available from both VersionTracker and PalmGear.

Note: I only publish updates on the PalmGear and VersionTracker web sites. If you downloaded TimeCopy from another site, you might want to make sure you really have the latest version.


Windows Installation

First time installation

Just start TimeCopy-1.4.exe, which will guide you through the process. It will install the conduit on your PC and trigger the installation of TimeCopy.prc on your PalmOS device.


In order to upgrade, you can simply overwrite your existing TimeCopy installation with the new version.

Simply overwriting the old version of TimeCopy on your Palm will preserve your settings and statistics. After the upgrade, the screen may display -unknown- in some fields but that is only a temporary display issue that will disappear at the next adjustment (this is due to changes in internal structures).


Step 1: Uninstall the Palm application

Remove TimeCopy from your PalmOS device in the usual way, i.e. by using the delete function of the Application launcher.

Step 2: Uninstall the Windows conduit

The Windows conduit can be uninstalled like any other Windows program. Just go to the control panel and select Add/Remove Programs.

Note: if you use Windows2000, WindowsXP, or WindowsME, you might prefer using the Uninstall TimeCopy entry in the start menu, since there is known problem with the uninstallation.


MacOS Installation

The MacOS conduit has originally been developed by Steve Schaeffer (thanks Steve!). Maintenance has been taken over by Scott Gruby, who also maintains the MacOS packages on VersionTracker and PalmGear.

Note that I have no Mac experience myself, so you better contact Scott for any Mac-specific issues.



The Preferences dialog has the following settings:
Setting Description


By default, TimeCopy automatically updates your handheld's clock after every hotsync.

You can switch to manual adjustments, which means that the clock is only adjusted when you click on TimeCopy's Adjust button.


By default, TimeCopy updates your handheld's time, timezone, and Daylight Saving Time information.

If for some reason, you only want to sync the time, you can set this setting to "Local time only".

Confirm before adjusting by more than <n> minutes

Normally, both your computer's and your handheld's clock are reasonably accurate, and the required adjustments are small.

If you have problems with your computer's clock, or just want to be alerted about strange time differences, you can tell TimeCopy to ask for confirmation before it adjusts the clock.

This may also be handy when you sometimes synchronise across timezones, during business trips or on vacation for example. In that case, you don't want TimeCopy to adjust your handheld's clock. The confirmation dialog warns you that this is about to happen, so that you can cancel the adjustment.

NOTE: this warns only about changes to the local time. If only the timezone offset or the DST setting changes without a change in the local time, the setting will be updated without asking for confirmation.


Menu functions

The following table describes all the menu functions.
Menu entry Description
Detailed stats...

This opens a dialog with more detailed information about the statistics.

Clear Stats...

After confirmation by the user, the statistics are reset.

Undo adjustment...

After confirmation by the user, the last clock adjustment is reverted. The adjustment is also removed from the statistics.


This opens the preferences dialog.

About TimeCopy

This displays the about dialog, which contains TimeCopy's version number and contact information.


Functionality supported by your version of PalmOS

Over time, the PalmOS has become more and more aware of things like timezones and Daylight Saving Time. It is still pretty basic however, since the PalmOS simply uses the local time, and only provides timezone and Daylight Saving Time information to interested applications; there is no active management of all this.

The following table shows what the various PalmOS versions support and how TimeCopy behaves:
OS version Date and Time Timezone offset DST offset Remarks
PalmOS 1.x yes - -

TimeCopy only sets and displays the local time

PalmOS 2.x yes yes -

TimeCopy sets and displays both the local time and the timezone offset. During Daylight Saving Time, the DST offset will be added to the timezone offset, but there is no DST indication on the screen.

PalmOS 3.x
PalmOS 4.x yes yes yes

TimeCopy sets the local time, the timezone offset, and the Daylight Saving Time.

As usual, the displayed timezone offset will include the DST offset, but there's an additional DST indication.


Available statistics

TimeCopy keeps track of all the adjustments made, and shows you how much the clock of your PalmOS device drifts. Time changes due to the change from standard time to Daylight Saving Time and back are not included in the statistics.

The main screen only shows the average drift; the Detailed Stats dialog also shows when TimeCopy started tracking the adjustments, and the cumulative correction since that date.

You will only see some stats after the second adjustment. The first one synchronises the handheld's clock and is the starting point. A second adjustment is required to see how much the handheld's clock actually drifts.

Note that any manual adjustments of the handheld's clock will disturb the statistics!

There is also some information in the FAQ.


Known Problems and Limitations

TimeCopy must reside in RAM

Keep TimeCopy in RAM, don't put it on a SD/MMC/CF card or Memory Stick. TimeCopy uses an alarm, and applications that use alarms should be kept in RAM to avoid problems like the alarm not going off, PalmOS crashes, and the like.

Uninstallation issue under Windows2000 and WindowsXP

Under Windows2000 and WindowsXP (maybe WindowsME too?), you may notice that the add/remove programs dialog seems to hang at the end of the uninstallation. The uninstallation had to stop and restart the hotsync manager, and for some reason, Windows is waiting for it (just exit the hotsync manager and you'll see that the add/remove programs dialog is back to normal)

Work-around: use the Uninstall TimeCopy entry in the start menu, or manually stop the hotsync manager before uninstalling.

Note that this problem does not occur under Windows98 (Windows95 has not been tested)


Frequently Answered Questions




How much does the clock of a PalmOS device drift?

That varies from model to model. My PalmPilot 1000 drifts -1 second every 118 hours, but my Handera 330 drifts +1 second every 20 hours.

Note also that the Palm can lose up to 10 seconds during a device reset, as explained in this Palm knowledgebase article:

What is TimeCopy's precision?

TimeCopy sets the Palm's time with an average error of about half a second.

Trying to do better than that doesn't make much sense, since on the Palm, the time can only be set with a precision of 1 second. Next to that, there's the transfer time from the host to the palm during the hotsync, which takes > 10 ms (up to 120ms using IR), and the fact that the Palm's clock itself also drifts more than 1 second per day.

After a hotsync, I no longer see a country name on the "Date & Time" preferences page, it says "GMT-something". [PalmOS4]

This means that your Palm timezone needed adjustment. TimeCopy knows the timezone offset, but it cannot find out in which country you actually are within that timezone.

If this bothers you, just select the right country yourself. As long as the timezone offset of the selected country corresponds to the host's timezone offset, no adjustment will take place.

TimeCopy says it sets the timezone on my Palm, but there's no timezone setting in the preference panels! [PalmOS < 4.0]

Well, there actually is. When you select your country on the Format panel, an internal timezone variable is automatically set as a side effect. The preference panels do not show you what your timezone actually is set to, but it does exist.

The indicated timezone offset is right, but why doesn't it say "DST"?

On PalmOS 2.x and 3.x devices, the OS doesn't know about Daylight Saving Time. In those cases, TimeCopy adds the DST offset to the timezone offset so that the global offset from UTC is at least correct.

I sync with more than one computer: do I need to install TimeCopy on all of them?

No, that's not necessary. You can safely hotsync with a system that does not have the TimeCopy conduit installed, nothing will happen.

In my hotsync log, I see something about "Windows is not providing valid DST information...", what does that mean?

You probably have disabled the "automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time" option in Windows' date/time control panel. Unfortunately, that not only disables the automatic adjustment, but also results in Windows not providing any valid information anymore where daylight saving changes are concerned. For example, it will tell applications that Daylight Saving Time is active the whole year round.

This behavior is considered normal by Microsoft (it is not documented anywhere by the way). The only Windows version that handles this properly is Windows98, but that "bug" got "fixed" in WindowsME (sigh).

NOTE: this only concerns countries/regions that know about Daylight Saving Time. Regions without Daylight Saving Time don't have this option and are not concerned by this problem.

After hotsyncing, the Palm's time is a couple of hours off, what's going on?

This happens when there's a timezone configuration problem under Windows. See the next FAQ entry for more information.

In my hotsync log, I see something related to a TZ environment variable, what is that about?

TimeCopy retrieves timezone and DST information directly from Windows. However, the time is retrieved and manipulated using the standard C library's time management functions (time(), localtime(), and the like). Normally, the C library also gets its timezone and DST information from the operating system, so everything is based on Windows' settings.

However, the C library is aware of an environment variable named TZ, that can be used to overrule Windows' timezone and DST information.

If that variable is used, there's a risk that the C library's idea of the current timezone and DST disagrees with Windows' own settings. This can result in the wrong time being sent to the palm, as two TimeCopy users have reported.

Note that even if the TZ variable appears to be set correctly, things can still go wrong since the TZ variable doesn't tell when the change to and from Daylight Saving Time will take place. When TZ is set, the C library simply applies the American dates (first Sunday in April, last Sunday in October), meaning that for users living in regions that use different dates, the time will be wrong for a couple of days since Windows itself didn't change to Daylight Saving Time yet whereas the C-library thinks otherwise.
In Europe for example, Daylight Saving Time begins on the last Sunday of March. That means that between the last Sunday of March and the first Sunday of April, Windows uses Daylight Saving Time, but the C library still thinks that standard time should be applied.

To summarise: without this variable, the C-library will always use the same information as Windows itself. If the TZ variable exists, there is a high probability that things go wrong: maybe every day, maybe only a couple of days per year.

And how do I get rid of this TZ environment variable?

Under Windows95/98/ME, environment variables are defined in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Windows NT4/2000/XP users can find the environment variables by right-clicking on the My Computer icon, and selecting properties. The dialog that appears will have something about environment variables on one of the tabs.

NOTE: after this change, you should reboot your PC.

NOTE: you may discover that after removing the TZ variable, the time of the meetings inside Palm Desktop has shifted. You can fix that by doing a hotsync with the Date Book sync configured as Handheld overwrites Desktop. That is done like this:

  1. right-click the hotsync manager's icon in the taskbar, and select Custom...
  2. In the dialog that appears (verify that your username is selected), select the Address Book line in the conduit list, and click on Change...
  3. Select Handheld overwrites Desktop and click on OK.
  4. Hotsync your Palm. The Palm's Date Book meetings will overwrite those of the Palm Desktop, making sure that the times are correct.

That's it. No need to set the setting back from Handheld overwrites Desktop to Synchronise the files, since the change only applied to the hotsync you just performed.

Can I use TimeCopy with an Apple system?

Yes, there now is a MacOS conduit for TimeCopy. See above for more information.

How can I keep my computer's clock synchronised with internet time servers?

Install a time synchronisation tool. Check out the Time Synchronization Software page on

Note that Windows XP has a time synchronisation function built-in, so you shouldn't need any additional tooling in that case.


Reporting problems and suggestions

Before reporting problems, please check the FAQ. When you send an e-mail, please include

For issues related to TimeCopy.prc or the Windows conduit, you can e-mail me.

For MacOS related issues, you should contact Scott Gruby.


Change History

v1.4 2002/04/27



Windows conduit

v1.3.3 2001/12/04

v1.3.2 2001/10/30

v1.3.1 2001/10/28

v1.3 2001/10/27

v1.2 2001/07/27

v1.1.1 2001/07/25

v1.1 2001/07/22

v1.0 2001/07/08


$Id: manual.html,v 1.8 2002/08/03 11:37:03 vons Exp $