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DataTools Frequently Asked Questions

The Futures Database
Continuous Contracts

The Futures Database

Where is the data to be found?
In sub-folders under the main "Futures" folder. The default installation path for the futures history is c:\Trading Data\Futures\. The sub-folders are "Cash", "Contracts" and "Continuous Contracts". Under Continuous Contracts there are two further sub-folders - "Back Adjusted" and "Spliced".

Can I change the location of the Futures folder subsequent to installation?
Yes - but you must inform the program of the new location. Go to Program Utilities > Configuration and click on the "General" tab. The "Data Folder" entry needs to describe the full path to the Futures folder.

What does it mean when a market name has a "C" on the end?
The "C" suffix stands for "Combined", as in "all trading sessions Combined".
The "N" suffix stands for "night-only" (overnight trading session).
The "F" suffix represents "floor-only" and the "D" suffix "day-only".
The "L" suffix stands for "Last", as in "last traded price in Close field" (as opposed to the "settlement" price).

More Information

What does it mean when a market symbol ends with "ccs" or "ccb"?
ccs stands for "continuous contract spliced"
ccb stands for "continuous contract back-adjusted"

What is the "SPI Merged" contract?
Please see "More about the SPI" under Futures Database Notes.

I have an older charting program that can only handle up to 255 files per folder. Can I cut my market folders down to that size?
Yes. Use the tool called "Reduce Number of Securities" under Program Utilities.

I've got a charting program that needs the data in ascii. What can I do?
DataTools has a "Translate Database to Text Format" tool which can be found under the File menu. You can specify which parts of the database to translate, or you can elect to translate all of it. To specify the exact nature of the text format to translate to, select from the options found under Program Utilities > Configuration > Text Export.

DataTools won't update a text database directly, but you can automate the translate function so that it runs each time after an update (tick the relevant box on the Update page).


What time is the data updated?
There are several "editions" each day that bring different groups of markets up to date. See the Update Schedule for full details.

Can I automate the updates?
Yes. You can create a task in the Windows Task Scheduler to run updates automatically at a preferred time. Click on "more information" below for full instructions.

More Information

My update was interrupted by the message "Exception encountered updating ...". What does this mean?
Part of your futures database has become corrupted. If the error is confined to a particular market folder, you can restore a previous (good) version of the folder in question by way of Windows System Protection, as described here.

If the error concerns one or more continuous contracts, then it may be resolved simply by re-creating the contract(s) in question.

A last resort solution is to install a completely fresh Futures history. But before using this solution, please see the first FAQ under Re-installation which concerns customised roll settings for continuous contracts. Also, see the general information regarding history re-installation here.

I can't seem to connect to your servers to get an update. What can I try?
There is a Server Selection menu on the Update page in DataTools. Try updating from Servers 1, 2, 3 and 4 in turn.

More Information

Still no connection. What's next?
Make sure that your Personal Firewall is not blocking "DataTools.exe" from accessing the internet. See the next answer below.

I think my firewall asked me whether I should allow "DataTools.exe" to access the internet and I answered "no". What can I do now?
Some Personal Firewall applications prompt you to re-confirm permission for internet access whenever they notice that a program has changed (for instance, because of a component upgrade). If you have inadvertently blocked DataTools from accessing the internet, you'll need to take steps to un-block it.

More Information

I have checked my firewall settings (or I have no firewall installed), but I still can't seem to connect.
Check your internet connection settings at Program Utilities > Configuration > Internet.

The default connection option for DataTools is to use your settings from Internet Explorer. This option is o.k. even if you use Firefox or another browser to access the internet, as long as Internet Explorer is actually installed on your machine. If Internet Explorer is not installed, select Direct Connection. If Internet Explorer is installed, make sure that its not currently set to "Work Offline". Start Internet Explorer and click the File menu. If "Work Offline" is ticked, click on it to untick it.

If you are using a proxy server on a LAN, please configure the proxy settings within Internet Explorer (Tools -> Internet Options -> Connections -> LAN Settings). Otherwise, try the Direct Connection option.

Continuous Contracts

Please see Futures - Continuous Contracts for a detailed discussion of the issues involved.

If any problem is noticed with a continuous contract, the first thing to try is to re-build the contract from scratch. Continuous contracts are made from the data in your underlying futures database. As long as this data is sound, you can always quickly re-create a continuous contract. The Continuous Contracts module can be accessed from the chain-link icon, or from under the Tools item on the DataTools menu line. See below for a complete description of the process.

Re-creating Continuous Contracts

  1. Open DataTools and select "Tools" from the menu line and then "Continuous Contracts".
  2. Highlight the market in question and click "Edit Roll Settings".
  3. Make sure that the "End Year" setting shows some year beyond the present year (towards the bottom of the Annual Template window).
  4. Click "Save & Exit".
  5. With the market in question still highlighted, click "Create Contracts".

What is a "Back Adjusted" continuous contract?
Let's say we are rolling from May Cocoa to July. On the day we roll, July is trading 30 points above May - say, at 1030 as opposed to 1000. A simple spliced contract will retain and display this 30 point price gap. A back adjusted contract, however, will remove it, on the basis that the gap wasn't caused by actual trading and can't be profited from. The back-adjusted contract will adjust all historical prices upwards by 30 points to bring them into line.

Which type should I be following - Back Adjusted or Spliced?
It depends on what you are looking for. A Spliced contract will show you the level at which a market was trading at any time in the past, and this can indicate whether the current price is high or low in historical terms. A Back Adjusted contract will show you what would have happened to you as a trader if you had stayed in a market continuously, rolling from one contract to the next. It is the appropriate form to use for system tests.

Some of my continuous contracts don't seem to show prices for the spot month. What is wrong?
The DataTools continuous contracts roll according to a defined "day of the month". This day must be "early enough" in the month to accomodate all historical contract expirations. Therefore contracts will tend to roll a number of days in advance of current month expiry.

Apart from this, the default roll settings do not always prefer the spot month.

I've changed my roll settings for a market, but the continuous contracts still seem to use the old settings.
After you change the roll settings, you need to click the "Create Contracts" button.


I've re-installed the futures history and now appear to have lost my customised roll settings for continuous contracts. How can I restore them?
Roll settings for continuous contracts are stored in a "Configuration" folder which is found directly under the "Futures" folder. When you re-install the futures history, the installer first makes a back-up of your existing "Futures" folder under the name "Futures (Previous Installation)". To restore your customised settings, copy the "Configuration" folder from the back-up folder so as to overwrite the version in your new "Futures" folder.

I've bought a new computer and I want to transfer DataTools across to it. Is there anything in particular I need to know?
The DataTools program itself can't be copied across - it needs to be installed via the program installer available from our Downloads area. You can also obtain a futures history installer from the Downloads area and do a totally fresh install. However, a fresh history install will cause you to lose any customised roll settings for continuous contracts (these are stored along with the history). If this is a concern, please see the information in the previous FAQ concerning how to restore the "Configuration" folder after a history re-install.

Another option is to copy your existing history across from your old machine. Click "More Information" below for instructions.

More Information