Windows Server 2008 – Time Synchronisation

Time synchronisation on Windows servers is an issue that comes around every so often, which can cause some serious problems in an infrastructure. I recently had a customer with a time problem which was affecting several services from starting correctly, which were mainly Microsoft Exchange related. There is a ton of information on the internet about ways to fix time issues in Windows based domains, most of which reference third party time applications or registry fixes. Whenever I experience a time issue across an infrastructure I always utilise the following procedure:

1. Open up a command prompt window, if you have User Account Control enabled on your server ensure you open the command prompt window as an administrator

2. Firstly I like to find out the time difference between my domain controllers and an external trusted time source, to obtain this information run the following command. You can change the “computer” attribute to a time server in your geographical area, I have set this to uk.pool.ntp.org to reflect greenwich meantime:

w32tm /stripchart /computer:uk.pool.ntp.org /samples:5 /dataonly

3. You should now be able to see how far out of sync your domain controller is compared to an accurate external time source. To sync your domain controller with this external time source and rectify the issue, enter the following command into the same command prompt window. As with the previous command you can change the “manualpeerlist” entry to reflect an external time server in your geographical location:

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:uk.pool.ntp.org /syncfromflags:manual /reliable:yes /update

4. That’s it, your domain controllers time you should have correctly synchronised against the external time source specified and other machines in your domain should also now inherit this time if they are configured to obtain time information from a domain controller.

You can find more information on external time sources at http://www.ntp.org

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