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Increasing the frequency of Windows’ automatic time updates

July 29th, 2009 at 01:17am

My laptop has a chronically slow system clock, so it is forever showing the wrong time, and with my obsessive compulsive requirement of all of my clocks to be correct to the second, this is a very annoying trait. Windows can automatically synchronise the system clock with an internet time server on a weekly basis, but this isn’t much help for me as by the time a week goes by, my computer clock is 56 seconds behind (it loses a second every three hours). It also doesn’t help that the default time server “” is notorious for often not responding to requests.

It’s a simple enough job to change the timeserver which your computer uses (right click on the clock in the system tray, choose “adjust date/time”, click the “Internet Time” tab, if necessary click on the “change settings” button, and choose a different timesever from the list”) however there is no option to change the frequency of these updates. Thankfully though, it is possible, and merely requires a simple registry edit.

Click the start button or the Windows icon, depending on your version of Windows.
(Versions prior to Vista: click run)
Type “regedit” (vista: click the “regedit” icon) (earlier versions: click “OK”)
Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\NtpClient
Double click on “SpecialPollInterval”
The figure is the number of seconds between updates. By default it is 604800 (one week). I set mine to 43200 (twelve hours).
Click OK.

After the next scheduled time update (or manually forced update), the newly selected update schedule will kick in.

A word of warning though. Some timeservers will block you if you update your time too regularly. Setting your update schedule to a very low number is not recommended.


Entry Filed under: IT News

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