How to Make Sure Your PC Has the Right Time

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Most PC users probably don’t pay a lot of attention to the date/time entry in the notification area. The time is supposed to be synchronized over the Internet once a week to keep it accurate. However, the default time server time.windows.com doesn’t always work very well and your time may not be as accurate as you think. I have usually changed the time server for my systems to one from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). There are a number of NIST servers around the US. There is also a pool of servers for international service. (See the links at the end of this article.)

Changing time servers in Windows is quite easy. The procedure for Windows XP is given at this link and here is how to do it in Windows 7.

  1. Right-click the time/date entry in the notification area
  2. Choose “Adjust date/time”
  3. Click the tab “Internet Time”
  4. The dialog shown in Figure 1 will open
  5. Click the button “Change settings”
  6. The dialog shown in Figure 2 will open
  7. In the line “Server” enter the desired server or choose one from the drop-down menu
  8. The server time.nist.gov is one of the choices in the drop-down menu and is a good general choice for those in the US. For other parts of the world, servers are listed in the reference below.
  9. Click “OK’  and again “OK”

There are also free utilities for adjusting time and a selection of the best is given here

List of time servers

Figure 1. Date/Time adjustmentDate and time dialog

Figure 2. Selection of time serverPicking a time server

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and a blog with computer tips and commentary.

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