Windows Xp - Getting the Correct Time

by Richard n Williams - Date: 2008-04-30 - Word Count: 262 Share This!

All computers need to know the time. Many applications, from sending an email to storing information are reliant on the PC knowing when the event took place. In some environments timing is even more crucial where a single second can make all the difference between profit and loss - just think of the stock exchange.

Most computers have internal clocks which are battery backed, so the computer can still keep time when the machine is off. However, are these clocks really that reliable? The answer of course is no.

Computers are mass marketed and designed for multi functions, timing not being that high on the manufacturer's agenda. The internal clocks (called RTC real time chips) are normally adequate for home computing or when workstations run alone. However, when computers run in a network, then a lack of synchronisation can cause problems.

It may be a minor thing such as an email arriving somewhere before it was sent (according to a PC clock) but with some time sensitive transactions and applications, a lack of synchronisation can cause imaginable problems: Imagine turning up at an airport only to find the airline seat you had bought weeks before was in fact sold to somebody else afterwards as their booking agent had a slower clock on their computer!

To get around these problems most computers on a network are synchronised to a single time source using NTP (network time protocol) this time source can be either relative (a computer's clock or wrist watch) or an absolute time source like UTC.

UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) was developed after the emergence of

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Copyright 2008 © Richard N Williams

Richard N Williams is a technical author and a specialist in the telecommunications and network time synchronisation industry helping to develop dedicated time server products; ethernet clocks, GPS time servers, NTP servers, digital wall clocks, atomic clock servers and SNTP time servers. Please visit us for more information about NTP products and NTP servers

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