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Time running fast on PC

Posted on 2015-01-30
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Last Modified: 2015-02-02
I have an XP Professional 32 bit Pc and I noticed by looking at the clock (I was logged in as a regular user) that the time is running fast. It looks to be running about 10 minutes fast

This pc I am speaking about is not networked and the time service cannot be accessed by the normal users. They are locked out of changing the date or time

When I logged on to the PC as an administrator I did set up to sync with the atomic clock. At the moment I did it and the time issue was resolved

But when a normal user logs on the clock starts running fast again

Any ideas why this is happening and any fixes?

I did run an extensive virus scan against the PC and it’s clean
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Question by:syarmush
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11 Comments
 
LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:Paul MacDonald
ID: 40580249
PC clocks are notoriously bad timekeepers.   This is why NTP servers exist.
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 40580259
How often do you have it syncing with the atomic clock?  Does it appear to do that reliably?

Are you suggesting that you can log in and correct the time, but if a normal user logs in immediately after you the time will be 10 minutes ahead of what is accurate?  Or does it take some time before this much error appears?
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 40580324
Since this still runs XP, the PC must be ancient. Change the CMOS battery. Also clean out all dust, as overheating can also cause this.
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LVL 34

Assisted Solution

by:Paul MacDonald
Paul MacDonald earned 500 total points
ID: 40580346
"Change the CMOS battery. Also clean out all dust, as overheating can also cause this."
Completely untrue, but it won't hurt to try.
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:Paul MacDonald
ID: 40580355
Back in the day they used to sell expansion cards that would enhance/replace the system clock.  On a lark, I looked to see if they still existed.  It seems they do (if you have a PCI or ISA slot) !
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 40580366
I've seen the CMOS battery and overheating causing the clock to skew many times. So it is completely true. It isn't always the cause, but quite often.
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Author Comment

by:syarmush
ID: 40580435
I did not see a setting to change how often it syncs with the Atomic clock

This change can only be made under the under administrator

I did see that it SYNC every 3 days
When you use the built in one under adjust date and time
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 40580454
Are you suggesting that you can log in and correct the time, but if a normal user logs in immediately after you the time will be 10 minutes ahead of what is accurate?  Or does it take some time before this much error appears?

Does it appear to be affected at all by rebooting?
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LVL 34

Accepted Solution

by:
Paul MacDonald earned 500 total points
ID: 40580468
No, I'm suggesting a PC clock can go in and out of accuracy by a little bit over the course of a day, and by a lot over the course of...some longer period of time.  How much variance you'll see, and in which direction are entirely a property of the quartz crystal used for the Real-Time Clock, and how often it's interrupted to update the system clock.  Who (if anyone) is logged in shouldn't make any difference at all, unless that person is doing or running something that exacerbates or mollifies the problem.  Typically the variance is in the sub-second range and effects almost nothing, but that's not always the case.  

Rebooting shouldn't make any difference either.
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 40580507
@paulmacd
I should have been clearer that the comment was directed at syarmush.  As with my first response, I am trying to be clear on the actual symptoms.

I absolutely agree about the slow drift in time on a PC based on the accuracy of the crystal.  The "who is logged in" issue relates to what I though the OP was claiming with: "But when a normal user logs on the clock starts running fast again".  I, too, am skeptical that the user login makes a difference, especially immediately after logging in.
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LVL 62

Expert Comment

by:gheist
ID: 40582795
Clock running wild for no reason might also mean that capacitors leaked/dried and computer has very little time left.
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