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Thursday, January 6, 2011

How To Make All Your PC Times Match With An Atomic Clock Sync

atomic clock syncDespite its importance, not many PC users have really ever paid attention to their PC date and time settings. The only time when the general population of the world really looked at their computer clock configuration was during the millennium change – the Y2K bug - which some people have dubbed as one of the biggest hoaxes in history. That was the time when everybody was worried that the year number change to 00 would cause worldwide system malfunctions.

Even though no major disasters have occurred due to the Y2K – either because everybody has taken all of the necessary precautions or because actually there’s no bug at all – the story has taught us that the computer system clock is not something that you can take for granted.

How the Atomic Clock Sync Works

Everything in your computer depends on the time configuration, from the BIOS setup to the file tagging system, from software activation to email processing. Everything. That’s why setting the time is one of the first things that you have to do during the OS installation process.

As today is the era of Internet and networking where computers around the world are interconnected into one giant web, the concept of synchronized time has become even more important. Can you imagine the chaos if each and every computer had a time setting of their own? For example, you might have trouble finding important email that your client sent yesterday because it’s dated three years ago in your client’s computer.
Fortunately, the Internet makes it easy for every computer to synchronize its time setting with a centralized time server – the atomic clock time server – so that all the computer times all around the world can use standardized settings, even though they are scattered through different time zones.

If you are a Windows user, you can use these two free tools to automatically match your PC times using atomic clock sync.

Tools Of The Trade

Windows comes with its own tool to manage the date and time. You can access it easily by clicking on the clock display on the System Tray and then choosing the “Change date and time settings” link.
atomic clock sync

The “Date and Time” control panel window will open. The basic “Date and Time” tab allows you to change the date, time, and time zone of your location manually.
atomic clock time

If you often travel and stay in different time zones, you can add more clocks according to those zones under the “Additional Clocks” tab.
atomic clock time

These additional clocks will show up every time you hover your mouse pointer above the System Tray clock display.
atomic clock time

But the real magic happens under the “Internet Time” tab. This is the place where you can set up the atomic clock sync with the server. By default, this process has been set up to automatically sync with Windows’ own atomic clock server at “”.
atomic clock

But in case you want to change the time server, have the need to disable the automatic time sync, or if there’s something wrong with your system that you need to re-synchronize your machine’s time, click the “Change setting” button for more customization options.
atomic clock

Another alternative tool that you can use to achieve the same thing is a small application called Atomic Clock Sync. This tool is provided by WorldTimeServer and built to do one thing: help users synchronize time on their system to the WorldTimeServer atomic server.
atomic clock

The automation process is located under “Synchronization Interval“. Here you can adjust the amount of time between automatic sync. By default the interval number is 604,800 seconds (one week).
03b1 Sync Interval.png

One thing that makes this tool different to Windows’ own tool is the ability to repair the Windows Time Service. To do that, you need to follow the step by step instructions, by clicking the buttons one by one in correct order.
atomic clock sync

Once set, the two tools will stay in the background and help you maintain your system time with minimal effort.

Have you tinkered with your system’s time setting or do you just let it be? Do you use any specific tools to do that? Have you ever had any problems with the computer’s time setting? Please share your stories using the comments below.

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