Configuring Windows 2000 and Windows XP to use NIST Time Servers

Configuring Windows 2000 amp; Windows XP Professional to Use ITS. Configuring Windows XP Home Edition to Use ITS. Troubleshooting Hints. Section 1: Purpose …

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Configuring Windows 2000 and Windows XP to use NIST Time Servers Configuring Windows 2000 and Windows XP to use NIST Time Servers Table of Contents:  Purpose  Background Information  Choose a NIST Internet Time Service (ITS) Server  Configuring Windows 2000 & Windows XP Professional to Use ITS  Configuring Windows XP Home Edition to Use ITS  Troubleshooting Hints Section 1: Purpose  This document provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the NIST Internet Time Service (ITS) for computers running the Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating systems. These operating systems have a built-in capability to use the NIST time servers to set and maintain the correct time on their computers time-of-day clock.  This document also provides background information and pointers that may be helpful for installing and running time synchronization software, in general, on a wider variety of computers.  Comments and feedback on this document may be sent to timeinfo@boulder.nist.gov . Section 2: Background Information  Almost all modern computers contain a time-of-day clock. This clock also keeps track of the day, month, and year. (A separate  clock governs the speed of the computer and is commonly quoted in megahertz or gigahertz.)  The time clock in the computer is used to keep track of when documents (files) are created and last changed, when electronic mail messages are sent and received, and when other time-sensitive events and transactions happen. In order to accurately compare files, messages, and other records residing on different computers, their time clocks must be set from a common standard. It is particularly important that computers that are networked together use a common standard of time.  In Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional , a common time standard is also a critical element for secure network communication between computers within a  Domain. Therefore, these versions of Windows include a  service (a program that runs in the background, that you usually do not have to interact with) to synchronize a computer s clock to the clocks of the other computers within the Domain. (Computers running Windows XP Home Edition cannot join Domains.)  For a detailed description of the Windows Time Service, how it operates on a Windows 2000 network, and how it can be configured, please see the White Paper from Microsoft at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/techinfo/howitworks/security/wintimeserv.asp  In summary, when computers running Windows 2000 (or Windows XP Professional ) are networked together, centrally administered, and organized into a Domain, a hierarchy is established whereby a computer obtains the time from another computer at a  higher level. Ultimately, one computer (or more) at the  highest level is considered authoritative for the Domain. Using this method within a  site, Microsoft expects the computer clocks to be synchronized to within 2 seconds of each other. However, within larger, more distributed enterprises, Microsoft allows the computer clocks to differ by up to 20 seconds.  The design of this process puts a premium on assuring that all the computer clocks within a Domain have approximately the same time. However, an external source of information is required for the clocks to have the right time. Ideally, the goal should be for all the clocks to be automatically set from an accurate national standard.  This document explains methods by which computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP can get the time from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) , an accurate and official source of time in the United States . It is particularly relevant for three types of users: 1) Administrators of an enterprise network who are responsible for establishing the correct time within an entire Domain 2) Users within an enterprise network who need greater time accuracy or traceability than the enterprise network provides by default 3) Users that are not within an enterprise network at all, such as home-computer users  The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a U. S. Government agency that maintains an official time scale for commerce in the United States. Certain regulations, for example those that affect the securities industry , require time records to be traceable to NIST. NIST maintains the time scale using atomic clocks, and they coordinate it with the time scales used by other nations and the U.S. military .  NIST disseminates the time using several methods. These include the long-standing time broadcasts over short-wave and long-wave radio . In addition, two services are offered of particular benefit to computer users. They allow you to set your computer s clock from the atomic clocks. For computers with modems attached, NIST provides a telephone dial-in service (ACTS) . For computers on the Internet, NIST provides an Internet Time Service (ITS) .  ACTS does not require that you have an Internet Service Provider, but does require a long-distance telephone call through a modem to Boulder, Colorado. ITS does not require long-distance telephone calls, but does require that your computer be connected to the Internet.  The Windows Time Service (in Windows 2000 and Windows XP ) which implements the hierarchical time-synchronization scheme by default also can be configured to get the time directly from NIST (via ITS) instead. Indeed, in Windows XP Home Edition , it is the only way that it can be used. The main purpose of this document is to explain how to enable this feature.  In this document, after choosing a NIST ITS server to use (Section 3), Section 4 is best suited for:  Users of Windows 2000  Users of Windows XP Professional who are connected to an enterprise network (i.e., Domain) and Section 5 is best suited for:  Users of Windows XP Home Edition  Users of Windows XP Professional who are not part of a Domain  The Windows Time Service is available also for Windows NT 4.0. For details, please see http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/TechNet/prodtechnol/winntas/downloads/W32TIME.asp . The principle differences for the Windows NT implementation (unlike the Windows 2000 implementation that is described in this document) are: 1) If an older program named TIMESERV has already been installed, it must first be removed. 2) W32TIME does not come preinstalled; you must download it from Microsoft. 3)

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