Windows Enterprise Desktop

Jan 15 2010   5:52PM GMT

Windows Time Synch Problem Solver: Atomic Clock Sync

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I’m sitting here at Gate 78 in the Pittsburgh airport. It’s 4:40 AM, and I’m waiting for 5:15 to roll around so I can board a flight to Atlanta, and thence on home to Austin. In about 5.5 hours I should be climbing into my car, to drive another 35 miles to Round Rock and home. Especially while traveling, keeping track of time is important, particularly when trying to make connections, keep appointments, and catch planes.

That’s why I experienced some frustration in my hotel room last night when I ran the Windows Internet Time time synch in the Date and Time item in control panel. At first one, then another, and finally, all of the time servers iisted in the Internet Time Settings window came up with the uninformative error message “An error occurred while Windows was synchronizing with” (or whatever other servers I tried at NIST,, and so forth).

Usually the time synch messages are a little more informative than that, and will add tidbits of information like “Unable to resolve peer” or “timeserver took too long to respond.” Thus, I found myself doubly stumped: I wasn’t able to communicate with any time servers, and I had no additional error info to help me figure out why. Fortunately, I did have a working Internet connection, and with a little digging I came across a utility called Atomic Clock Sync V3.0.

The default Atomic Clock screen shows all current time settings

The default Atomic Clock screen shows all current time settings

Not only was it able to synch with its own parent time server, but it also offered a handy-dandy repair service for my apparently failed local time service. Open this tab in the program and you encounter the steps depicted in this screenshot:


This pane marches you through a standard Windows service repair.

This pane marches you through a standard Windows service repair.

Anybody familiar with Windows services will recognize that these steps represent what’s required to halt a hung or failed service, unregister it from the services manager, and then reverse that process by re-registering it and finally starting it up again. Proof that it worked occured when I completed the final step and indeed found myself once again able to synchronize with whatever time server I chose in the Date and Time widget’s Internet Time Settings window.

This handy widget has now taken up residence in my toolbox. If you ever find yourself facing a Windows machine that can’t complete a time sync, you’ll want to add it to your toolbox, too.

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