net time \set vs. Windows Time Service in Win 2003 and Win XP

Posted on 2006-07-19
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2009-02-06

I have a multi-part question concerning net time \set and the newer Windows Time Service.

Currently have a XP SP2 clients time synched to the Win 2003 Domain Controller Server through a one-time net time \set command.  

My first question is:
Using net time \set, are the clients continously synched with the server or is the synch only happen once?

My second question is:
Through my research at Microsoft's website they want you to move away from net time \set for XP and Win 2003 in favor of Windows Time Service.  Is this because net time \set doesn't work well for those OSs (because I'm having alot of trouble) and what are the plus\minus between the 2 commands?

Thank you for your time.
Question by:thesultanofswine
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Assisted Solution

prashsax earned 1000 total points
ID: 17141828
net time /set command will sync your machines time against the server just once.

If you use Windows NTP then it will keep on sync at regular interval.

If you have Windows XP clients then you should configure Windows NTP service and do not rely on net time /set.

As you may know that Windows 2003 Kerberos uses time to authenticate and a time difference in excess of 5 min could cause the authentication problem.

Here is how you set the NTP time source.

net time /setsntp:Server_name

Here server_name is the name of the DC in your domain. This will ensure that this client will have correct time in sync with the DC.

Now, similarly you can set NTP server on DC as well. I uses time.nist.gov. Its a NTP server on internet and keep the time in our network syncronized.

LVL 86

Expert Comment

ID: 17141878
If those machines are domain members of an AD domain, you can happily do just *nothing* on your clients. They will synchronize with the authenticating domain controller automatically, there's absolutely nothing you need to do manually.
The only machine that you might want to configure to synchronize with a reliable time source is the PDC emulator.
Yes, you can do that with net time /setsntp, but if you're using a server name (instead of an IP address), you should add ",0x1":
net time /setsntp:ntp.some.domain.com,0x1
Afterwards, restart the time service:
net stop w32time
net start w32time

Basic Operation of the Windows Time Service

Author Comment

ID: 17141991
Thanks for the responses, I'm still a little confused on the Windows Time Service (w32tm.exe) vs. net time vs. w32time (which isn't recoginized on the XP clients).  Are they independant of each other or connected in some way?  
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Author Comment

ID: 17142014
Forget one more question, when the net time /setsntp parameter is used how often do the clients synch up with the server?  Is it configurable?

Thanks again
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 17142050
Yes, the time of sync can be configured.

Look at the document below.

LVL 86

Accepted Solution

oBdA earned 1000 total points
ID: 17142059
w32time is the service that is running by default in W2k and later. w32tm is a command line tool that can be used to configure the time service as well as run as time service itself (which is usually not needed).
When and how the time service synchronizes is described in the article I posted. And just in case: do NOT use the net time /setsntp command on any domain member except on the PDC emulator.

Author Comment

ID: 17146154
Thanks guys, I appreciate the help.

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