3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its Time

ComputerTime03   3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its TimeThere are many things that most people take for granted. One of them is that clocks always show the current time. When you tend to rely on your computer’s time and your computer clock loses time, this can be fatal.

There are several situations where the Windows clock starts showing the wrong time. If you’re obsessed with having the exact time on your computer no matter what, you may want to set up synchronization with a remote server. Before you do that however, please note that an inaccurate Windows clock should not be taken lightly.

If the computer clock loses time although you keep fixing it, there may be a serious cause. This article shows you what the underlying causes may be and how you can fix them.

1. CMOS Battery

This is the most likely scenario, especially if your computer is not brand new.

The CMOS battery sits on your computer’s motherboard and provides power to the Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) chip. The CMOS chip stores information about the system configuration, including the date and time. The CMOS battery makes sure the chip can store this data even while the computer is turned off and not hooked up to power. If the battery goes bad, the chip starts losing information and one of the symptoms is that your computer no longer maintains its time and date.

ComputerTime01   3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its Time

Replacing the CMOS battery is pretty easy. You just have to turn off your computer, ground yourself, open the case, find out which type of battery (step 3 in the linked guide) sits on your motherboard, go buy it, start over, and exchange the battery. Follow the links to the keywords for articles on the respective steps.

2. Time Zone

This is an easy to fix cause for when your computer clock loses time.

Your computer may simply be set to the wrong time zone and every time you fix the time, it resets itself to that time zone when you reboot. If the minutes are correct and only the hour is bad, that’s probably the issue you’re dealing with.

In Windows 7 you can easily fix the time zone. Right-click the system clock in your taskbar and select > Adjust date/time. Under the headline > Time Zone check whether the information is correct. If not, click the > Change time zone… button and set your time zone. Don’t forget to confirm your changes and you’re all set.

ComputerTime02   3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its Time

3. Malware

This is the least pleasant and most difficult to manage scenario.

Your computer may have been hijacked by a virus that messes with your computer time. To fix it, you need to gather a few tools. First, make sure your anti-virus program is up to date with the latest virus definitions. Then get a good malware scanner, for example Malwarebytes or Spybot Search & Destroy. For more tools and links to the respective download pages, check out our The Best Of: Windows Software page.

Once you have all these tools downloaded, updated and installed, start in Safe Mode and run them. It’s important to start in safe mode because the malware won’t launch and be active when you choose this boot mode. This means that it is less likely to escape detection and removal.

SafeMode02   3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its Time

Conclusion

It’s important to pay attention to the most basic features of your computer. Simple things going wrong can be a sign of serious trouble ahead. For example if your CMOS battery dies, your computer will act like it has Alzheimers and you have to introduce it to its hardware components (via the BIOS) every time it boots. That’s just as annoying as a virus that plays tricks on you or a bad time zone setting that messes up everything from the clock to your email client’s time stamps. So be wise and act immediately.

Be sure to also check out Jeffry’s article on synchronizing your PC clock with an atomic clock.

Do you sync the time on your computer and what made you set that up?

Image credits: Gina Sanders, Peter J. Kovacs,

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13 Comments -

Tonergreen

That’s probably why my PC clock do not match with our office time-in clock. Hmm… I often complain about the time-in clock being adjusted without notifying us. I will have a check later.

But normally, how long will it take for the CMOS battery to start showing signs of malfunction since its the PC is assembled and installed?

Aibek

Based on my personal experience chance are you won’t have to change your CMOS batter at all unless you have been using the same desktop for over 5 years.

Tina

I would say 3 to 5 years is the lifetime you can expect. After the third year you should be aware of the possibility that the battery might start losing it.

However, I have seen computers that were over 7 years old and they were ok. The time wasn’t accurate, but it wasn’t dramatically off either. Most importantly, there were no boot issues, i.e. the battery was still providing enough power to store the BIOS settings.

Eric Darchis

There is a (1B) too: my motherboard has a few switches at the back, near the USB connectors. One of these switches is a CMOS reset. I accidentally switched it and wondered why I would lose the settings when turning the computer off completely.

So if your battery is recent, you might look at the motherboard manual and see whether the CMOS clear switches are properly turned off.

Eric Darchis

There is a (1B) too: my motherboard has a few switches at the back, near the USB connectors. One of these switches is a CMOS reset. I accidentally switched it and wondered why I would lose the settings when turning the computer off completely.

So if your battery is recent, you might look at the motherboard manual and see whether the CMOS clear switches are properly turned off.

Tina

Thanks for bringing this up, Eric! I was not aware of a CMOS reset switch.

James T. Kirk

The time server (NTP server) that Windows uses to sync may be down or not reachable. A PC clock is very inaccurate and will go out of sync even without battery problems. Make sure, the NTP server is up and reachable.

Tina

Good point!

Tina

I would say 3 to 5 years is the lifetime you can expect. After the third year you should be aware of the possibility that the battery might start losing it.

However, I have seen computers that were over 7 years old and they were ok. The time wasn’t accurate, but it wasn’t dramatically off either. Most importantly, there were no boot issues, i.e. the battery was still providing enough power to store the BIOS settings.

Doc

Another problem (which will adjust your clock by 1 hour either way) might be your Daylight Savings Time settings may be out of date (there’s been at least 1 change to the DST rules since 2007). Windows Update will take care of this, as will some third-party updaters for Windows 98 and up.

Denny Wilson1979

I am facing the same issue, Tina tons of thanx for this post :)

Tina

Glad to hear the article was helpful. Thanks for the feedback, Danny!

Kay

My computer clock often shows the wrong time & date – even back when I had just bought it. So I just reset the time and date. This happens at times when I turn it on and the BIOS update screen is there and then windows loads normally with, of course, the wrong date and time.
I think I send it back to HP to fix this “weak” battery.