›› Windows Time

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Windows Time is responsible for automatically synchronizing the date and time for all computers on a Windows network. This service makes it possible for your computer to set its clock automatically to match that of other computers on the same network.

How the Windows Time Service automatically updates your date and time depends on how your network is set up. If your network is set up as a workgroup, in which there is no client-server relationship, each computer on the network has to be manually configured to synchronize with an Internet time server. Once the configuration has occurred, every seven days Windows Time Service will automatically synchronize every machine's time with an Internet time server, like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This is a very direct route from your computer to the Internet and requires an extra step of set-up.

If your network is set up as an Active Directory Domain, in which there is a hierarchical client-server relationship, time synchronization takes a less direct route through a chain of networked computers. Client computers on this type of network receive the time from their domain controller, which in turn obtains the time from their domain's primary domain controller or an external time server. It is important that the primary domain controller have the correct time because it affects the time for all the computers on the network. In this type of network, the extra step of manually configuring every computer to synchronize to the Internet time server has been removed.

Logically, you may be wondering why it is important for your computer's date and time to be synchronized to all other computers on a network. Depending on how you use your network, time synchronization may not affect you at all. However, one reason you may want to consider for time synchronization is that other Windows services rely on computers in the network to have accurate, synchronized time. For example, the Kerberos V5 authentication protocol makes use of accurate time settings as part of its security protocol. The Kerberos V5 authentication protocol is a third-party security tool that guards against fraudulent requests to gain access to the network and its resources. As one of its protocols, it checks the time of a computer that is requesting access to the network. If a computer's time does not match that of the network, access will be denied to that user.

On this site, we recommend that Windows Time be set to Automatic. However, the setting you choose for Windows Time is a personal decision based on whether or not you want your time to be updated automatically or manually. If you are concerned about this service taking up system resources or security issues, then set it to Disabled and manually update your time every once in a while. If you are not concerned about a minimal amount of resource drain and don't mind that your computer contacts the Internet every seven days to update your time, then set it to Automatic.

Service Name W32Time
Display Name Windows Time
Executable File Name svchost.exe
Dependencies None
Reciprocal Dependencies None
Default Startup Type Automatic
Recommended Startup Type Automatic (Disable if concerned about it taking up resources)

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