How is Time Doctor different from Rescue Time?

Time Doctor vs Rescue Time

(Updated: Sept. 2013)

A number of visitors to the site have asked how Time Doctor is different compared to Rescue Time, a popular and free productivity/time tracking application. On the surface, both programs do appear to be similar, but the approach and the practical applications of each product are vastly different.

Both rely on a client side software package installed on a users computer to monitor computer usage coupled to a remote server that can generate reports and tracks ‘personal productivity’ – or more precisely, productive time.

But this is where the similarities begin and end.

Rescue Time tracks computer usage silently in the background and can be configured to block websites while Time Doctor encourages users to manage their daily priorities and tracks time spent on particular tasks. Rescue Time requires no effort to use once installed, whereas Time Doctor is interactive by design.

A silent tracking application does have some benefits – it requires little or no user input once installed, but unfortunately there are also major drawbacks. A friend of mine who uses Time Doctor wrote to me after trying Rescue Time for the first time last week, saying, “It counts the time when I visited my bank web site on my break as ‘very productive’, but time in Google Chrome as ‘very distracting’, when I was actually working!”

Even if the application tracking in Rescue Time is categorized properly – this information is very limited in its use because for the most part you cannot know what someone is really working on just from what application they are using. For example, Rescue Time can track that a person was working on a Word document but just this information simply can’t tell you the actual work they were doing. So, even though Rescue Time has some eye-catching graphs displaying the time worked utilizing different applications, the usefulness of the data is quite limited.

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Instant Chat Solution

A few weeks, ago, the Time Doctor Team received this message from TD Captain and Commander Rob Rawson:

We need instant chatWe obviously want to provide world class customer service with our software, so we set about finding the best option that didn’t involve having to code live chat ourselves (we have our own software to work on!)

After about 3 days of research, we made a short list, and we initially went with Velaro, mostly because of the 3rd party support it had for Zendesk (and other bits of software we’d thought about using). We made it as far as setting up the entire system, but a few minor bugs with various browsers made us re-consider; we had problems with the way you had to constantly scroll to the bottom of a chat window after sending a message, and the chat window was about 10 pixels wide when viewed with Chrome (although it must be said that customer service was fantastic with Velaro and they’re working on fixing these problems).
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Some things we’ve fixed in the last week

Version 1.1.15 (6/29/2010)
– Fixed multiple instance of TD running
– Fixed sign in related issues
– Fixed the “going back to work” button
– Implemented the limit the priority length on input
– Fixed priorities list display problem
– Fixed the offline hours dialog layout issue
– Removed the 15 entries limit in the priorities list
– Implemented the auto expand of the priority with long description when selected

Version 1.1.15 (7/7/2010)
– Fixed multiple instance of TD running
– Fixed the “going back to work button”
– Implemented the limit the priority length on input
– Implemented the auto expand of the priority with long description when selected

Version 1.1.14 (7/6/2010)
– Fixed auto update issue in Linux
– Fixed priorities list display problem
– Implemented the auto expand of the priority with long description when selected

If for some reason, you don’t have the latest stable releases running then please contact – all users should automatically be prompted to update their software as new stable releases become available.

Getting Zen with Time Doctor Support


Time Doctor & Zendesk

We’ve just partnered up with Zendesk to implement our support system and knowledge base. Visit for tips & tricks or to stay in touch with the latest feature requests and answers to common problems.

Time Doctor users can send support requests directly from the desktop app, the website or dashboard or the client – failing that we they can always send an email to support [at] which will be logged directly with our ticketing system.

At present, because we have staff in Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and in parts of Europe, which means that we have a good spread of time zones and answers to any support questions should be dealt with in less than a couple of hours.

We are also looking at staffing a live chat solution so any Time Doctor user will be able to get answers to any problems at the click of the button. We should be launching the live chat within the week.

Time Doctor BETA (on the Horizon)

Time Doctor on the Horizon

Time Doctor BETA

We’ve been using our own software for more than 6 months now (and it’s been available to download and try for the last couple of months)… but we’re, finally, almost ready to launch a BETA version.

This BETA version of Time Doctor, we hope, will be completely functional in it’s current form and will have all interface and website glitches ironed out for all versions. All major bugs have been ironed out as well, including a rather embarrassing glitch that sent emails intended for some users sent to completely the wrong people…

(This was a result of moving the Time Doctor software to a new Amazon S3 server environment, which has been completed now and has improved overall performance and stability of the application and the dashboard).

While the Time Doctor client probably won’t win any design awards, it’s definite improvement on the way things looked a few months back. In the latest versions we’ve tidied the interface up as well the edit priorities screen (and various other notification messages). Our design approach was (and still is) to keep everything as simple, streamlined and as functional as possible.

We’re fairly confident that in a few days time you’ll be able start using Time Doctor with out any problems at all. We’re now just tidying up a few loose ends and completing a few minor tweaks. Any users downloading and installing the software now will automatically updated with the latest stable release versions as they become available.

As always, please send us your feedback, suggestions and ideas….