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 can have some major consequences. Some of the problems you might encounter are an inability to access HTTPS websites, 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.
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 [No Longer Available], 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. 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.
Have you encountered problems with your system clock? How did you rectify it?
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