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Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Workstations - no time sync?

Posted on 2011-03-13
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have Windows XP workstations in a domain with Windows Server 2003.  Yesterday, before the time change, I went to each workstation to ensure the Windows Time service was running, changed the polling to 15 minutes and ran the command "w32tm /resync /rediscover"

I tested a sampling of workstations by changing the server time by a few minutes and seeing if the workstations followed suit.  They did.

This morning, after the time change, my server shows an hour later as it should, but my workstations do not.

Questions:

1. Why haven't they changed?
2. Does someone have to be logged in for the time to update?
3. If a regular user does not have the privleges necessary to allow a time change, will it change anyway since it is a service and not really dependent on their login?

Thanks.
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Question by:Adam D
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compaqus earned 250 total points
ID: 35121437
When it happened to me a year ago, it was because i did not have the latest updates on daylight saving time.
Me I have used this patch on Server 2003, XP (with no sp3 i think) and a few win2000.

http://www.intelliadmin.com/index.php/2007/01/unofficial-windows-2000-daylight-saving-time-patch/
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35121864
It is certainly not a problem with the time sync service, because time according to Windows is always UTC. The time that is displayed is calculated by using an offset appropriate for the time zone. If your machines are showing the wrong time it is because their timezone rules are wrong and you need to get the DST patches on them.
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by:Adam D
ID: 35128768
Thank you for your information.

It appears it was a problem with the TimeZone patch not being applied to the system (SP2 or 3 did not matter).

Although, in my opinion, I would think it would have been overridden by the timesync that told it the time on the server was an hour later than itself regardless of the information it had.

Installed the patch, good to go.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35131128
That is a misunderstanding of timesync. The timesync distributes UTC, which is a reference to time that doesn't use timezones, it is more of an absolute reference to time. Computers use UTC and timezone data to figure out how to display local time. In a time synced environment, changing the clock an hour is like saying that time itslef just jumped forward an hour, which of course it didn't. All of this ignores general relativity wackyness.
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by:Adam D
ID: 35133052
Ok, I understand the UTC angle, but if I have designated my server in a domain as the authoritative time server, then all other machines should take note of the server's UTC timecode and convert to that time. Otherwise, what is the point of designating ANYTHING as the time server if the workstation does not change its time to match?
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35133165
They will all use the same internal time, so the minutes/seconds should always match, but the hour that is displayed depends upon the timezone settings. I have some servers in my environment set to display in UTC, while the rest of my environment displays in PST/PDT. If i had devices in other timezones they would display in their local time, but it can all be synced back to a single timesource. If I just changed "the time" on my time server and everything synced, devices in Arizona which doesn't save Daylight Saving time would get messed up.
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by:Adam D
ID: 35133346
So, if the time of my server was off by a couple UTC hours for whatever reason, are you saying the rest of my machines which are supposed to rely on this server, and no one else, will NOT change their time?  That doesn't makes sense to me.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35133480
I am saying that if on your primary time server you change the time zone setting to say "GMT +9:30 Darwin", you would see the hour change and the minutes would change by 30, but you wouldn't expect the clocks to change on any other machine in your domain. Everything still knows what 'true GMT time' is, that doesn't vary by timezone.

Now, if for some reason your server truely was off by serveral hours for some reason not related to DST and the timezone stuff was correct and you fixed the time either manually or by connecting to an external timesource, then yes everything else would shift by the same amount to show the 'correct' time.
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by:Adam D
ID: 35133529
That is what I am saying.  Putting aside the timezone issue, if I manually clicked the time on the server and manually pushed it up by any amouont (hours or minutes) then the rest of the dependent machines should follow suit, right?  In this particular instance, based on your information, the reason they did NOT follow suit is due to the timezone issue.  But a with manual change, all would follow in line...right?
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by:compaqus
ID: 35133580
This design was implemented taking into considerations offices with the domain controller in another time zone.
Let's say my office is in Vancouver but I VPN to my NY main office. The server there will keep my time in sync, my computer will believe the server, subtract 3 hours and show me the time.

Now, the computers without the patch, know that the time will change next week in their timezone, so it syncs accordingly.
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by:Adam D
ID: 35133678
I believe a picture is beginning to form! :)  Thanks for your insight and information.  I appreciate it.
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35133683
If you just manually change the time on the primary time server for the domain, everything else should follow suit if you time sync infrastructure is working properly and you primary time server isn't getting time from another source such as an NTP server on the Internet.
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