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Time Sync questions

Posted on 2013-07-01
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Last Modified: 2013-07-03
I have some questions about validating time sync sources on Windows 2008R2 and Windows 2003 servers.

First I am confused on Server 2008R2 between the results of w32tm /query /source and the value of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\W32Time\Parameters\ntpserver. One points to the domain controller for time source (w32tm) and the registry to time.windows.com. I am guessing these are two different settings, but looking for clarification as Google searches produce both for results and resolutions.

Secondly in Windows 2003, the w32tm command I mentioned is not supported, so what is the best way to check the time source of a machine? Is there a command or am I looking in the registry.

I guess my overall question is what info is relevant to verify time sources per OS because it seems to be either the w32tm command line or the registry. Oh let me add, these are VMs that run on esxi 5.1. Thanks!
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Question by:dumamo
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footech earned 1000 total points
ID: 39291725
If the Type value is set to NT5DS, then it doesn't matter what NTPServer is set to.  Here's a good reference that covers this.
http://tigermatt.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/windows-time-for-active-directory/
All your machines in the domain should be synchronizing with the domain hierarchy (except for the PDCe).  If you have any doubts you could just run the following to reset them to defaults.
net stop w32time
 w32tm /unregister
 w32tm /register
 net start w32time
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by:Leon Fester
Leon Fester earned 1000 total points
ID: 39292471
time.windows.com is the default setting that you get when you install the server.
As soon as you add the server to the domain it will start using the domain hierarchy to sync time as mentioned above.

If the server is not on a domain it will use the time.windows.com server for time syncing, assuming it has Internet access.

You can find the time server from the command line on Windows 2003:
net time /querysntp

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb490716.aspx
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/w32time/archive/2009/08/07/net-time-and-w32time.aspx
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by:dumamo
ID: 39293421
@footech - I have read that article in the past but completely missed the NT5DS piece. It clearly says about NTPServer when NT5DS is set so thanks! W32tm command is returning what I am looking for.

@dvt_localboy - I have used that command before so I ran it again. The result is time.windows.com,0x1, which is also the value for the reg entry NtpServer. The Type is set to NT5DS, but I am unclear is it syncing with the domain? Will w32tm /config /syncfromflags:domhier /update work on 2003 as well?

Somehow certain domain machines have had time service disabled (IDK how or who) and have been returning values of Local CMOS Clock or Free-running System Clock. I am just trying to get those back in sync to expected behavior as you stated. Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Tushar_Darwatkar
ID: 39295518
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by:Leon Fester
Leon Fester earned 1000 total points
ID: 39295876
w32tm /config /syncfromflags:domhier /update
Should work on Windows 2003 servers too.

As you've noted, the Time Service must be running in order to use the domain hierarchy time sync algorithms

If you're doing a domain time sync project then you need to ensure that your PDC is correctly configured as an authoritative time source in your domain.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/816042

These links should explain the workings of the Time Service in more detail:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc773061(v=ws.10).aspx
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc773013(v=ws.10).aspx
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Expert Comment

by:frankhelk
ID: 39296512
A little bit off the sheer topic, but ....

From my experience, W32time is not the preferred solution when it comes to reliable time sync. I've had troulbe with it whenever I used it, esp. in NTP mode, and it's lousy to do diagnostics on.

I'd recommend to use a Windows port of the original NTP client . Works like a charm and stable as a rock if properly configured (which is easy in almost all cases). And it's diagnostics tool ntpq tells anything you need, most of it with one single command. See this article for more info about using it.
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