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You’ve unlikely given much thought to your computer’s date and time settings. It’s something that you set when installing the operating system and then promptly forget about. But how do you ensure that your computer clock is accurate?

In this article you can find out how your system clock works, how to customize its settings, and what to do if it starts displaying the incorrect time.

If you have your own tips to share on managing your system clock, please share them in the comments below.

Why Is an Accurate System Clock Important?

The most obvious answer to this is so that you can keep a proper track of what the time is.

In all seriousness, an out of sync system clock 3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its Time 3 Reasons Why Your Windows Computer Clock Loses Its Time There are many things that most people take for granted. One of them is that clocks always show the current time. Read More can have some major consequences. Some of the problems you might encounter are an inability to access HTTPS websites What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More , email clients marking your mail with the incorrect date, software with time limits instantly expiring, and more.

You can check your system clock in the tray of your Taskbar. The precise format of it will depend on your customization settings, but clicking the time will then open a modal that shows you the date and calendar too.

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How to Sync Your System Clock to Atomic

Right click the time in the tray of your Taskbar and click Adjust date/time. This will open a Settings window with a number of available options. First, ensure that both Set time automatically and Set time zone automatically are slid to On.

Next, click Additional date, time & regional settings > Set the time and date > internet Time > Change settings… Once here, ensure that you have Synchronize with an internet time server ticked.

Enabling this means that your system will automatically synchronize with the internet time server selected, either weekly or on system boot, whichever happens first. If you’re receiving an error that Windows couldn’t synchronize with the time server, you can select a different one from the list by using the Server dropdown.

All of the servers on the list are US-based, so if you’re constantly having problems then it’s worth using one closer to where you live. For this, visit the NTP Pool Project.

Use the Active Servers list to select your region. You’ll see the name of a country, the server URL, followed by the number of servers within. If your country has a low number of servers then choose somewhere else nearby that has more. Copy the server URL, switch back to your system’s time settings, paste into the Server text box, and Update now to check it works. Then click OK.

Consider Third-Party Time Correction Software

If you’re having trouble with the in-built Windows solution, or the time server isn’t updating often enough, you can use third-party software to handle the time correction. For this we recommend Dimension 4, which is free for personal use.

When you launch the program it’ll ask you for elevated permissions to run in the background. Accept and continue. Then click Settings to begin customizing. From here you can select from a large list of servers across the globe, or click Add if you want to specify your own.

Of particular importance are the settings beneath the How Often header. Here you can set the program to run at startup and synchronize every specific second, minute, or hour. Obviously, if your system clock is constantly wrong then you can set this to sync more often. Finally, untick Maximum correction because this means it’ll only correct the time if it’s out by the hours specified.

Still Having Problems?

If you’re still having problems with your system clock, or if it’s constantly out of sync, you may find that there’s a fault with a battery on your motherboard. If you see an error message on startup that reads “System CMOS checksum bad” or similar, that’s a sure-fire sign that you need to replace the CMOS battery. The battery failure means that your system clock will reset back to the BIOS default every time you boot.

Changing the battery will solve the problem, though that does mean opening up your computer or laptop to do the replacement. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions before doing so and pay attention to how it’ll impact your warranty. An IT professional should be able to replace it for you if you’re unsure. For more information on this, see our guide on why your motherboard has a battery Why Does My Motherboard Have A Battery? Why Does My Motherboard Have A Battery? Whether you’re using a desktop computer or a laptop, your computer’s motherboard contains an integrated battery. Unlike a standard laptop battery, the motherboard’s battery doesn’t power your computer while you're using it. Quite the opposite,... Read More . Alternatively, use a method outlined above as a workaround.

One final check is to see if Daylight Saving Time changes are being accounted for. Do a system search for date and time and select the relevant result. Click Change time zone… and then ensure that Automatically adjust clock for Daylight Saving Time is ticked. Click OK when done.

I’m Late for an Important Date!

Now you understand how important it is to keep an accurate system clock and how to keep it in sync! Not only will you be on time for your important date, but you’ll also overcome other oddities like HTTPS certification failures and wrongly dated emails.

With this new grasp on what the actual time is, now you can look to improving time in another way. Check out our guides to fixing your slow boot times 5 Tips to Fix Slow Boot Times in Windows 10 5 Tips to Fix Slow Boot Times in Windows 10 If your Windows 10 boot time is slow since the Anniversary Update, your're not alone. We have compiled the most common solutions to help you fix this issue fast. Read More and speeding up your shut down Is Windows Taking Forever to Shut Down? Try This! Is Windows Taking Forever to Shut Down? Try This! You’re just turning your PC off; how hard can it be? Shutting down is a complex process and much can go wrong. If your Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 gets stuck, check out our troubleshooting... Read More .

Have you encountered problems with your system clock? How did you rectify it?

Image Credit: Madhourse via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Nat Colley
    February 19, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Joe Keeley! I'll admit it. I'm confused. The date on your post is February 17, 2017, just two days from when I am writing this. But when I look at the three prior comments, they are all from 2010! What's going on here, Joe? Did you just edit / recycle an old post? If so, what did you do to make sure the content was accurate after SEVEN YEARS?! This is no small matter to me, Joe, because I am one of thousands who have NEVER had accurate time on Windows 10. There's a whole thread about it, and I was hoping this article would talk about it. If not, I was going to link to it for you. But now I'm not even sure you know what year it is, so I won't. I hope this post is not just a content ad for the dimension software you mentioned.

    • Joe Keeley
      February 19, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      Nat Colley! Some may call me a time traveller, but I dispute those claims. To clear up the mystery, an article with this title was previously published by a different author back in 2010. In order to bring it up to modern standards and provide information relevant for Windows 10, I rewrote it all and published what you now see above. This is accurate content, Nat, I promise you that. Rest assured, neither I nor MUO have any affiliation with the Dimension software linked in the article - I just found it did the job well, thus recommended it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to ride in my DeLorean.

  2. jb
    December 30, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I have used Dimension 4 - http://www.thinkman.com/dimens... - for many years to sync my computer.

  3. jb
    December 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I have used Dimension 4 - http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/ - for many years to sync my computer.

    • Anonymous
      December 31, 2010 at 10:27 am

      Thanks for the input!