Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My Windows 7 machine infuriates me. It cannot hold a date. At one point it all worked fine, but now it will decide that it needs to change the system time to a random time and date, either in the future or past. There seems to be no correlation or set interval of when it happens.

In attempt to remedy this, I have:

  • Correctly set the time in BIOS.
  • Replaced the motherboard battery with a new CR2032 (even checked it with a multimeter).
  • Tried disabling automatic internet synchronizing via "Date and Time" dialog.
  • Stopped, restarted, left disabled the Windows Time service.

Yet with all of these actions, the time will continue to change.

Also, the machine has OS X and Ubuntu partitions. It does not occur on either of those so I'm fairly certain it's not hardware related.

Any ideas?

Edit: This is a fairly old post now, but I thought it warranted an update. I never solved the problem. I ended up reinstalling Windows 7 and the problem went away (still had OS X and several linux partitions running just fine; also had the same hardware). Just another mystery of Windows, I suppose.

share|improve this question
Have you tried changing the time synchronization server? – imtheman Sep 16 '12 at 19:26
Yes, Peter. The time will sync to the correct time. But after an indeterminate amount of time has passed, it will randomize again. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 16 '12 at 21:17
When it randomises, is it still sync-ed? – Andrew Sep 17 '12 at 11:06
Yes, it randomizes when sync with internet time is checked or unchecked. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 19 '12 at 18:38
Does this also happen when the machine is completely offline? – Langhard Sep 20 '12 at 6:45

11 Answers 11

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This problem is very frequent and can have many causes, not all of them are known.

You already did the obvious, which is replacing the on-board battery, so only unobvious reasons remain. Some I can think of are :

  1. Your time-server is bad, so change the one you are using by right-click on the clock / Adjust date/time / Internet Time / Change settings.
  2. Check the date/time of your router - sometimes this affects Windows.
  3. Reinstall Windows - this was the only solution for some people to undo the corruption.
share|improve this answer
The problem still occurs even when Internet Time sync is off. I guess I'm leaning towards number 3 here, which is very annoying since I'm afraid that a clone will carry over whatever is causing int. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 23 '12 at 19:10
If you still have this problem after reinstall without too many non-Microsoft applications, then this might still be a hardware problem after all. – harrymc Sep 23 '12 at 19:53
My bet is that it will go away after I completely reinstall Windows. However, as I said before given that I can't just clone the installation this will be a complete pain in the ass. Excuse the french. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 26 '12 at 6:17
Bonne chance, Jonathan. – harrymc Sep 26 '12 at 6:34

Try using a linux livecd and see if the problem persists. If it does not, then you know its a problem isolated to Windows. If it does, then it points to faulty hardware.

share|improve this answer
I forgot to mention that. The machine has OS X and Ubuntu partitions. It does not occur on either so i'm fairly certain it's not hardware related. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 16 '12 at 21:16
@JonathanDumaine: does the time change while powered on and running, or after a reboot/resume? – horatio Sep 20 '12 at 20:59
If you go for this, watch -n1 date is your friend. – Tom Wijsman Sep 22 '12 at 16:34
@horatio Both. The time changes periodically while running normally, and upon boot it chooses a random time and sticks with that. I should note, however, that once it chooses a random time, it sticks with that time. It won't change again until I reset the clock to the correct time. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 26 '12 at 6:20

It's possible the Windows Time Service has gotten confused. Run cmd.exe as an administrator (Start -> All programs -> Accessories -> Right click command prompt, then run as administrator) and type these commands to reregister and restart the service. I found some reports that it worked and some that it didn't on this particular problem.

net stop w32time 
w32tm /unregister 
w32tm /register 
net start w32time 
w32tm /resync
share|improve this answer
Thanks for the link. Definitely didn't work on my system. net had no trouble stopping Windows Time, but then when I tried to /unregister and then start it back up, gave me an Access is Denied and then said that the w32time service it had just stopped no longer existed to start up again. -__- – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 17 '12 at 3:49
What happens is if you reboot before issuing the failing command? – Nicole Hamilton Sep 17 '12 at 4:11
Rebooting and reopening an elevated prompt got the commands working. However, even after leaving Windows Time disabled, the clock is still changing periodically. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 19 '12 at 18:38
This is equivalent to PC restart. – SolarWind Mar 9 at 12:32

In some versions of windows, especially those sold abroad, if the license is not properly registered and windows thinks it might be a pirated copy, this is a common phenomenon. Check that you are using a properly licensed copy of windows. It was one among several "annoyances" that windows started to do, short of disabling itself, to encourage proper licensing by the user.

share|improve this answer
Tremendously interested in any possible source you may have on this. – LawrenceC Sep 26 '12 at 0:51
My Windows install says it's validated just fine. I would also be curious to see a source for this. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 26 '12 at 6:21

I came across very similar issue few months ago and it took me quite some time to fix it. I tried pretty much everything suggested here. I had:

  • Windows 7
  • Ubuntu 10.04

The BIOS was set in UTC time. Windows kept putting itself to that time zone, no matter what I did. Even if I changed the BIOS time setting, it still was changing after some time.

So, I found this useful how-to that showed me how to set the time properly when dual-booting from Ubuntu help site, and I believe this will help you.

share|improve this answer

Does this happen only when you are connected to your router? Check whether you have set the correct timezone and daylight settings in your router.

share|improve this answer
Checked. Router has correct settings. Ten other computers connected to the router and happens on none of them. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 23 '12 at 19:06

On the off chance you have not already done this, run a thorough virus scan. Preferably by a different virus canner than the one you have installed.

Also try running a virus scanner from OSX or Linux.

share|improve this answer
Would you suggest any specifics solutions? I've run full scans with Norton, AVG, Trend Micro and MS Security Essentials (my go to AV). – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 26 '12 at 6:18
Sorry, not very knowledgeable on virus scanners. I would try and run something like CLamAV from Linux or ClamXav from OSX though. – terdon Sep 26 '12 at 11:17

Well , the problem that you have mentioned , I also came across it , when I had Ubuntu installed alongside Windows . I was using WUBI installer from Ubuntu . It was so annoying that I stopped using Ubuntu alongside Windows . I started using Linux Virtual box , and I did not had the problem related to time since then .So, I think there might be an issue with the way the Linux distribution updates the time . Check where you have set your location in your Linux distribution , whether or not you have enabled daylight saving scheme and/or the auto time update/sync option.

share|improve this answer
I imagine that if you're not booting one then the other, it shouldn't matter what or how many partitions you have alongside Windows. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 26 '12 at 6:16

I think about 2 ways.

1)The problem can be your CMOS. Try to enter your PC's motherboard's official site and find solution there, or simply, Google it!

2)Or maybe that's a simple type of VIRUS. By default that type of virus is not catched by antiviruses, because they decide that changing time by programs is not dangerous for your PC, while changing time can remove your antivirus activation key and let the virus download and run his other viruses. Try these steps.
2.1)Check autoruns from msconfig.exe (Start->Run->msconfig.exe)
2.2)Try to check all autoruns thoroughly with Sysinternals's Autoruns. It shows all autoruns, which are not shown in msconfig.

share|improve this answer
I looked through my autorun entries and did not find anything out of the ordinary. Just in case, I disabled just about everything non-system related to see if one of them was the culprit. Was not so. – Jonathan Dumaine Sep 26 '12 at 6:15

I had this issue once when I was seeding a torrent. My assumption at the time was that the leecher was attempting to connect with an improper time/date. ( I stopped seeding and it stopped) This will occur when two networks attempt communication with differing times. It more than likely is a network you are talking to or a network that is trying to talk to you. (think application updates). It would be a tedious task to try and list all the programs you have that talk to the network so try and eliminate the applications' access that YOU think would be most probable.

share|improve this answer
I don't see a torrent connection affecting your system time. Your situation may be very localized – Simon Sheehan Sep 26 '12 at 2:43
Wow. Thank you for that opinion. – user161421 Sep 26 '12 at 3:06

The problem with my sister's laptop was that the battery keeping the clock running was dying, so the clock would reset to like 2007 every time she would wake up or restart the computer.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .