How To: Resolve Domain Time Sync Issues

computer-time

I’ve seen this issue alarmingly often – a domain’s computers and servers are not displaying the correct system time. This sounds like a minor inconvenience but it can actually wreak havoc on applications and functionality across the board for an organization. Here’s how to fix it.

I think the first reaction to many people will be to say “well, just swap out the CMOS”, but do you really want to crack open your server and pull out components when there’s a way around it? That’s not to say that it will always be a CMOS issue either, and then you’ve done all that work for nothing.

The first thing you want to do is to get into your DHCP server and open up DHCP in Administrative Tools. Expand the tree for the server, IPv4 (if you’re still using that primitive outdated address scheme like the rest of us), and then navigate to Server Options. Under the Actions menu, go to “Configure Options…” What you want to do here is make your DHCP server your time server as well. This isn’t set by default.

Under Server Options, check “004 – Time Server”. Below under “Data entry”, add in the IP address for the server and hit add. You don’t need anything in the Server name field.

Now that you’ve designated your server as a time server, you have to head to the ol’ command line to set the global time servers and then tell all the client machines to sync to the server, not try to figure it out for themselves. To do this, open up a command prompt and type:

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:”0.north-america.pool.ntp.org 1.north-america.pool.ntp.org” /syncfromflags:manual /update

Let’s take a look at this command. “w32tm” is the Windows Time Service. What we’re configuring here are 2 global time servers, in this case North America 0 and 1. If you aren’t sure what pools to use, take a look at http://www.pool.ntp.org/en/use.html . The “syncfromflags:manual” parameter tells every endpoint to override what they want to sync to by default. The “update” parameter tells the command to run now. Like, right now.

The only thing left to do is to issue the w32tm /resync command, and that will synchronize the server with the rest of the domain. This doesn’t require any system reboots or anything, and end users should see their time clocks change in seconds (ha ha).

That’s all there is to it!

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