Monday, September 10, 2007

How To Keep Perfect Time on Your Computer

time1Computers don't always keep the best time.  You may notice that computer's system clocks will lose or gain several minutes or so every few days. 


With many computers this isn't a big deal, but there are several times when the time needs to be exact.  For instance, when you are relying on that HTPC computer to record your shows at a certain time, it can be more then annoying when you miss the last few minutes of a television show just because Windows can't keep the proper time.

Windows XP has a built in client that via NT+ service checks the time weekly from the NIST Time Server or from server.  If the built-in server doesn't keep the proper time, try one of the following solutions.

Here are a few solutions for Windows XP:

1. Manually Edit Registry - You could modify the Windows Registry to update more often:

  • Go to Start>Run>Regedit
  • Find: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\NtpClient
  • Open the "SpecialPollInterval" and change the Dword Decimal from the default of 604800 (one week) to something more often such as 3600 (one hour) so it will check the local time server once per hour
  • Now exit the registry and restart the Windows Time service so it will recognize that you've changed the frequency. To do this open up a Command Prompt by doing Start>Run>CMD
  • At the C prompt type net stop "windows time"
    You'll see a message that says "The Windows Time service is stopping. The Windows Time service was stopped successfully."
  • Now at the C prompt type net start "windows time"
    You'll see a message that says "The Windows Time service is starting. The Windows Time service was started successfully."
  • That's it.   Now just click the "Update Now" button in the "Internet Time" tab under "Date and Time Properties" to force a NTP sync. and update the "Next synchronization:" date with your new poll interval.

2. The Easy Way with Softnik Time Sync.  This is a free, small footprint install for XP or Vista that allows you to customize the settings without having to mess with the registry settings and command prompts.


  • Simply download the free Time Sync software, install and run it.
  • First click Connect to server and it will obtain the official time
  • Click on Configure.  Here you can change the server it uses to obtain the time, configure how often it checks the server by minutes as well as several other settings.  When you're done, just click Done and then Tray to minimize the application to the windows tray.


This is the software I use on my Home Theater PC's and my Digital Photo Frame as well.  Download Softnik's Time Sync HERE

3. Another Easy way with Argosoft Time Synchronizer.  I've not used this one, but have heard good things about it as well.  It's really similar to Softnik's Time Synch and has an equally small footprint.

when you use those computers as a Home Theater PC or a Digital Photo Frame. 

Download ArgoSoft Time Synchronizer HERE



If you have a Mac Computer and are having trouble with time synchronization even with the "set date & time automatically" selected then follow these steps to modify the configuration file:

  1. Log into Mac OS X with an administrator account.
  2. Open the Terminal (located at /Applications/Utilities/).
  3. Execute this command:sudo cp / etc/ntp.config /etc/newntp.config
  4. When prompted, enter your administrator password.
  5. Execute this command:sudo pico /etc/newntp.conf
  6. Locate the minpoll and maxpoll values, and delete them.
  7. Add "iburst" after the server addresses. The resulting file will contain an entry that looks like this:
    server iburst

  8. Press Control-O followed by Return to save the file, then Control-X to exit pico.
  9. Execute this command:sudo pico /System/Library/StartupItems/NetworkTime/NetworkTime
  10. Change the line near the end of this file, which starts with "ntpd -f", so that it reads:  ntpd -f /var/run/ntp.drift -p /var/run/ -c /etc/newntp.conf
  11. Press Control-O followed by Return to save the file, then Control-X to exit pico.
  12. Now restart the Network Time service, execute this command:sudo SystemStarter -d restart "Network Time"