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TOS Paper vs Live - Any noted differences?


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TOS Paper vs Live - Any noted differences?

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  #1 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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I've been on the TOS platform for several years, and truly like it for my stock and option trades, for five linked accounts. I want nothing more than for it to be the solution I use going-forward, including for futures.

However, I play a lot in paper where I test my stock and option strategies and otherwise just experiment without risking capital, which is the point of course. I have a live, non-delayed feed, but after noticing some issues which tech support could not initially replicate (after many inquiries), I finally got a rep (just before the holidays), who finally asked me if I was in paper or live. The light went on, for me at least... She then was able to see what I saw, which was not seen in the live version.

I have these discrepancies noted on my other computer, but I'll give it a go from my memory...

I noticed in my left panel watchlist that the put / call ratio criteria that I had selected was static, day after day, week after week even. I wanted to use this data to aid me in my decision-making to see how worthwhile it might be, but it was, and remains useless, in my paper account. The rep saw that it was working properly, updating on the fly in the live account. She had no explanation as to why.

I had found other stuff too, which just has me very frustrated as I now feel like I can't use paper for its intended purpose. Here's one I remember, but I didn't make the time to confirm it against the live account. Either way, it's wrong... I have an EFT watchlist, I believe that focusses on option sizzle, and it constantly has the ticker FIO. This is not an ETF, but a stock.

I told TOS about this, and the put / call stuff months ago...

Anyone else notice differences (btween paper and live)? I find myself using TOS less now and I'm seriously contemplating something like MC or AB. I'd like to think that the two should mirror each other in all important ways...

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  #2 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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I too like to trade in paper for the reasons you suggest.

I noticed that the info in the Volume column in the Active Trader tab are wildly different between the Paper and Live versions. Level II screens are totally different too. I haven't bothered tech support about it, as I think ToS is not too concerned about their paper trading system. I heard in one ToS lecture that they run paper money so their backup servers have something to do all day.

Also others have noted very different fill responses between paper and live, especially with short term trading, but I'm still somewhat green, so I can't speak on that.

None of this makes me feel good about paper trading on ToS, beyond ruidmentary finding "which button does what."

If anyone can suggest an alternative platform where paper trading more realistically emulates live trading, I (and I bet others) are all ears.

Thanks!
-Bob

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  #3 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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bob7123, thank you, and welcome to the forum.

If you have not checked, make sure your paper account is receiving real-time data, not delayed (top left corner). This might explain some, if not most of what you shared. Just a thought...

If it is indeed real-time, like your live account, the information is most helpful. If you happen to have taken screen shots like me, kindly share.

At some point soon, I plan to email TDA / TOS with such "evidence" and make it very clear that they are about to lose a customer. I have invested much time setting-up my paper account to test various strategies, and I'm unable to do so with any conviction.

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Legendary Market Wizard
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Of course fills in paper vs live will be different.
I haven't noticed any differences besides that.

I haven't traded any paper in a long time though.

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  #5 (permalink)
Indianapolis, IN USA
 
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TonyB View Post
bob7123, thank you, and welcome to the forum.

If you have not checked, make sure your paper account is receiving real-time data, not delayed (top left corner). This might explain some, if not most of what you shared. Just a thought...

If it is indeed real-time, like your live account, the information is most helpful. If you happen to have taken screen shots like me, kindly share.

At some point soon, I plan to email TDA / TOS with such "evidence" and make it very clear that they are about to lose a customer. I have invested much time setting-up my paper account to test various strategies, and I'm unable to do so with any conviction.

Good luck finding a platform that does as much as TOS already does in terms of their paper trading and ThinkBack capabilities... Ultimately, you want great fills and low commissions. This is where TOS is most vulnerable. But when it comes to whistles / bells / and paper trading.... TOS is as good as it gets.

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  #6 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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Massive l View Post
Of course fills in paper vs live will be different.
I haven't noticed any differences besides that.

I haven't traded any paper in a long time though.

When I was paper trading futures in TOS, fills were immediate when the price was reached, not FIFO. That is why I went elsewhere (OEC) for my futures sim education. While not ideal, I understand and get that though...

What I don't find acceptable is having supplied data, indicators not present the same information as what's seen in the live account.


timefreedom View Post
Good luck finding a platform that does as much as TOS already does in terms of their paper trading and ThinkBack capabilities... Ultimately, you want great fills and low commissions. This is where TOS is most vulnerable. But when it comes to whistles / bells / and paper trading.... TOS is as good as it gets.

And that is why I've been with them so long. As I said, I want nothing more than to have TOS get this aspect sorted-out. I really like options, so believe me when I say that...

I decided to check again as it has been a couple months.... About 45 minutes after the mkt close, SLB has a put / call ratio of 1.411 in paper. In live, it's .501. There are other examples, but we are not talking a minor difference here.

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  #7 (permalink)
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Here is a screenshot of the 5 minute /ES. It is early here in Europe, so the volume bars are not that different yet. (they will be way off by RTH) And obviously the Level II is totally different, as is the ladder.

BTW I always make the paper and live sessions different colors. Prevents me from having a nightmare that I'm in one when I think I'm in the other!


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  #8 (permalink)
desert CA
 
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TOS futures/forex papertrading is a little better now. Used to be always like 10 seconds behind a couple of years ago. I asked them if they could fix it, and they said they couldn't. (pat answer). Glad to see TD Ameritrade has taken the TOS platform seriously and have invested in improving it. Now it still has unrealistic fills with no real simulated bid/ask orderflow but at least it requires passage through the tick and is more or less real time although still filtered compared to other real time feeds.

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  #9 (permalink)
Legendary Market Wizard
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Only one tos .exe file should be opened at a time, otherwise the data will be off.

This is explained in their terms of service. If you have a special need, there is a work around.
I recommend contacting support.

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  #10 (permalink)
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Massive l View Post
Only one tos .exe file should be opened at a time, otherwise the data will be off.

This is explained in their terms of service. If you have a special need, there is a work around.
I recommend contacting support.

I'm not sure if this in reference to something I shared, and if so, what exactly you are saying. I have a Watchlist in the left panel that has a column for the put / call ratio. That data is both static and grossly different than the figures in the live account... Same thing when a scan is performed on such, different results in live vs paper...

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  #11 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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I think MassiveI was expressing concerns about my screenshot with 2 copies of ToS open.

I was initially skeptical that this could be a problem, but I did my due diligence and ran ToS in 2 different virtual machine instances. Guess what. The delays went away. Thanks for that eye opener!

(Although I couldn't find the instructions about not running more than one instance of ToS on the thinkorswim.com website. If anyone has a link, please share.)

As far as comparing the volume colums go, there is a difference between live and paper, but it is a LOT less than it used to be. I guess one of their later builds addressed this. Nowadays the difference is only a few percent, so I don't think its a big issue for sim trading.

As far as the Level II differences go, I have one ToS live account that I do short term trades with, and one just for long term stuff. I noticed that the long term account only shows one level in Level II and the Active Trader ladder, like PM. I suspect this is because I never enabled futures trading on that that account. I have an email into ToS support to confirm this, but that would explain a lot. (Volume columns are identical however.)

Assuming that ToS has a switch to allow full Level II info, I am not sure if they would be willing to turn it on in paper money, but there is one way to find out...

And for the record, another screen shot, but these are actually running in their own VMs.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their knowledge.

-Bob

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  #12 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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To follow up, I heard back from ToS support:

Enabling level 2 quotes is different from enabling futures trading.

They will do it for paper money accounts if you have a funded live account. (They did it on my PM account)

Hope this helps,
-Bob

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  #13 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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Good stuff bob7123! Very happy for you.

Yup, that is what Massive I was most likely referring to - multiple instances of TOS. Some platforms don't allow for it, while others experience issues...

I sense that my email (put / call data) via the TDA website is receiving some attention as I had not heard back yet. Typically, I'd receive a response within a few hours...

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  #14 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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I got a response from TDA / TOS, with some good info:

Thank you for contacting the thinkorswim from TD Ameritrade support team.

I'm sorry that you are having problems with some of the data on paperMoney. The RealTrading should be accurate. To be honest, our main concern with making paperMoney available was so that our clients could learn the platform. While testing strategies is also a benefit, it's not the main intention of the progam, so problems with a quote feed here and there are not going to be worked with immediacy when there are more pressing matters for our development team. I've reported your issue again and hopefully they will take a look at it.

That said, I would suggest using OnDemand in the LiveTrading platform if this is something your actual trading is dependent on. There is a button in the upper left when you sign into Live. It is similar to paperMoney in that it is a virtual trading account. Where it differs is that you can control the time you are looking at. Set a date and time and you can trade on that date just like it was today. OnDemand records actual market data, whereas paperMoney's quotes come from a quotefeed.

+++++

So, I think I'll just log into Live, and do my experimenting within OnDemand as Paper is for more familiarity purposes.

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  #15 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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Great! But FYI for others who read this, the On Demand button is on the upper right.

I always wondered what that did!

Thinking on it a bit, PM is good because you are in sync with news, but On Demand works on nights and weekends, so I guess they both have a purpose.

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  #16 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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As someone said earlier, and the rep said too, use PM to familiarize oneself with the platform in general...

I need to try OnDemand. Must one select a date (historical), or can the user "trade" the current market also?

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  #17 (permalink)
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Guess nothing is perfect. I played around with On Demand and found a few gotchas. Below is an excerpt from my ToS TS email, so others don't have to spend time going over the same ground:

----------
Hello,

I found a few problems with On Demand. When I try to trade futures, especially on the Active Trader Tab, my orders will not get executed, even if I place a market order.

Looking a bit, it seems that the Active Trader loads with live data and not historical data for futures. (At least on the ones I tried, including the /ES)

So when I click “Buy MKT” in the active trader tab, it creates an order for /ESM2, which does not work if that contract was not trading or buys the wrong one if it was not the active contract at the On Demand time.

I thought to myself well gee, I guess I just need to specify the actual contract, e.g. set On Demand to 1 year ago and enter /ESM1 in the chart. That works better in the Charts and Active Trader but then does not work in the trade tab, which in that case says that there are no options.

I noticed in the On Demand startup box it says that it should work for futures, so I guess these issues should be looked at.

Please let me know when they are addressed.

Thanks!

---------
Also here is an excerpt from a TS reply regarding running more than one instance. (I'm in Win7 x64, but I'm still going to run Paper Money in a VM anyway. It can't hurt, and my testing says it helps!)

"you may certainly run two instances as this should not be a problem. If you are on a Mac, however, generally you cannot run two instances of the same application. There is a workaround, however, which I can provide further instruction for if you are on a Mac."

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  #18 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA - US
 
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Thank you for sharing bob7123. Glad you made some time to check-out OnDemand already... When you get a TS response, if not much trouble, let us know. A good weekend to you.

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  #19 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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Their response:

Thank you for the email. I apologize for any inconvenience this is causing you. This is a known issue that the developers are working diligently to correct. Unfortunately, we do not have an exact ETA for a fix to be release. Please feel free to follow up with any other questions.

If it was such a known issue, why didn't they mention it to others in the tread earlier?

BTW, I got an email last night with an erroneous margin call in it. And they recently sent me a request to update my contact info, long story short they screwed that up too.

I think the ToS platform is a great learning tool, but lately these folks are making me very concerned about the quality of their operation. I think when I start to scale more, I'm adding a search for new vendors to the plan.

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Bay Area, CA - US
 
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bob7123 View Post
Their response:

Thank you for the email. I apologize for any inconvenience this is causing you. This is a known issue that the developers are working diligently to correct. Unfortunately, we do not have an exact ETA for a fix to be release. Please feel free to follow up with any other questions.

If it was such a known issue, why didn't they mention it to others in the tread earlier?

BTW, I got an email last night with an erroneous margin call in it. And they recently sent me a request to update my contact info, long story short they screwed that up too.

I think the ToS platform is a great learning tool, but lately these folks are making me very concerned about the quality of their operation. I think when I start to scale more, I'm adding a search for new vendors to the plan.

Thanks for the update / TS response.

TOS the platform offers a lot, that's for sure. The support, while prompt, often leaves me scratching my head... I've also had those requests to update my contact info, for all 5 of my accounts, but no corresponding issues though.

I just got a follow-up response regarding OnDemand and PM:

Hello,

OnDemand is only for historical purposes. It is a recording of the market and will run behind by one day. PaperMoney is still the best for practicing on live trading. It's not perfect, but it is the best thing out there for paper trading.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions. We appreciate your business and are happy to help any way possible.
++++

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  #21 (permalink)
fishers indiana/hamilton
 
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TOS paper entries and exits are not realistic. Ninja SIM does a lot better job. Watch the time and sales flow when you are sim trading in TOS paper to be sure order flow actually happens at your entry and exit targets when live testing your strategy. You don't seem to have to do that with Ninja on futures from what I have seen.

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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Hi Sabine,

I talked to ToS support, and they said that they will turn on level 2 quoting in paper money if you have a funded account and ask them to do it. (Which they did for me) Dunno if you want to bother, but you may want to ask them to turn it on for you and see if it becomes more like Ninja.

BTW, I'm guessing that the quality of the simulated fills would depend more on the broker than the platform, no? Do you mind sharing who your broker is?

It is not up to me to tell ToS how to run their business, but I think not turning on full capability in paper money once an account is funded is a mistake. It only leads to confusion and bad press, and apparently puts them at a disadvantage to other brokers.

All that said, for me the real showstopper r/e short term futures trading is that after extensive emails back and forth, ToS will only extend day trading margins during RTH. As an American in Europe, that just won't work. (Probably wouldn't work for an insomniac in America either! )

I like a lot of their tools, esp for options, and I will remain a customer for longer term stuff, but for me the decision about using them for futures trading is done. (Unless of course they change their policies, but I'm not waiting around for that.)

Take care,
-Bob

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fishers indiana/hamilton
 
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bob7123 View Post
Hi Sabine,

I talked to ToS support, and they said that they will turn on level 2 quoting in paper money if you have a funded account and ask them to do it. (Which they did for me) Dunno if you want to bother, but you may want to ask them to turn it on for you and see if it becomes more like Ninja.

BTW, I'm guessing that the quality of the simulated fills would depend more on the broker than the platform, no? Do you mind sharing who your broker is?

It is not up to me to tell ToS how to run their business, but I think not turning on full capability in paper money once an account is funded is a mistake. It only leads to confusion and bad press, and apparently puts them at a disadvantage to other brokers.

All that said, for me the real showstopper r/e short term futures trading is that after extensive emails back and forth, ToS will only extend day trading margins during RTH. As an American in Europe, that just won't work. (Probably wouldn't work for an insomniac in America either! )

I like a lot of their tools, esp for options, and I will remain a customer for longer term stuff, but for me the decision about using them for futures trading is done. (Unless of course they change their policies, but I'm not waiting around for that.)

Take care,
-Bob

I have a futures account with TOS but I don't use it as much I do the one with 3tfutures. 3tfutures is based out of Mobile, AL (everybody knows who teaches and trades from there). They have great customer support and some of the lowest margins I have run across. Check out their website and give them a call. I do know they have customers all over the world so it may work for your situation.

I have traded simultaneously on paper with both at the same time and it was my observation Ninja was more realistic in it's order management. I really like TOS for options although I don't do that much options trading currently.

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  #24 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
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OK, I'll take the bait... I don't know who trades out of Mobile AL. Please do tell for all us noobs.

I gotta tell you I was amused by trying to google it up and found this site: My Floor Trader | Flooring in Mississippi | Gautier, MS | Gulfport, MS | Mobile, AL.

I was all excited to find a floor trader in Mobile... Until I found out that they wanted to sell me a FLOOR! (LOL)

I'll check out 3tFutures, and see how they stack up. Been with them a while?

Thanks,
-Bob

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fishers indiana/hamilton
 
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bob7123 View Post
OK, I'll take the bait... I don't know who trades out of Mobile AL. Please do tell for all us noobs.

I gotta tell you I was amused by trying to google it up and found this site: My Floor Trader | Flooring in Mississippi | Gautier, MS | Gulfport, MS | Mobile, AL.

I was all excited to find a floor trader in Mobile... Until I found out that they wanted to sell me a FLOOR! (LOL)

I'll check out 3tFutures, and see how they stack up. Been with them a while?

Thanks,
-Bob

Tom Busby...(AKA P.T. Barnum or the new Jesse Livermore.) I have been with them for about 1 year with no problems. The trades go through fast and you can get someone on the phone if you call.

btw...Tom takes a lot of gaff from folks however I was in his trade room for a year and he and the other traders made a lot of good calls. I did not take their courses and don't use their system however I do subscribe to the tape reading method. They have a good grasp of the interconnection of the markets and use the DAX as a leading indicator for the US market. They are support resistance tape readers that trade well.

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fishers indiana/hamilton
 
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Platform: Ninja and TOS
Trading: OIL
 
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Posts: 18 since Feb 2012
Thanks: 0 given, 6 received

btw, Bob...were you on Shadow Trader with Brad the other day?

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  #27 (permalink)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 
Experience: Intermediate
Platform: Sierra, IRT, ToS, Ninja
Broker: Stage 5
Trading: NQ
 
bob7123's Avatar
 
Posts: 658 since Oct 2011
Thanks: 133 given, 2,637 received


Sabine View Post
btw, Bob...were you on Shadow Trader with Brad the other day?

YEP, that was me. Small world!

Actually I was pretty shocked I got on. My wife was working late, otherwise I'd have already shut down for the day, as the options expiry was making for a chopfest and it was past 7PM here. So I was just messing around and opened a google search window right before he asked the question, and I guess the rest is history...

Brad is a great guy. If you are ever in Philly, you should go say hello. Peter and the Prodigio people are in there too. (Actually they are in the suburbs, specifically Ardmore, PA)

BTW, I mentioned briefly in the chat that I'm investigating using Heiken Ashi Charts. Try taking the $TICK chart that Brad has up all day, but change the time to 1 minute and make it a Heiken Ashi chart. Let me know what you think, but I find it has a lot more value in showing market turns, and not just at the extremes. I find zooming in helps too.

Thanks again for the info about Tom Busby and 3tFutures. I'll definitely follow up.

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  #28 (permalink)
Coronel Vivida, Parana/Brazil
 
 
Posts: 47 since Oct 2020
Thanks: 17 given, 18 received

The TOS papertrade platform is generally slower for me than the live trading. Lots of lags.

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futures io Trading Community Platforms and Indicators ThinkOrSwim > TOS Paper vs Live - Any noted differences?


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