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I changed the time of a windows server 2003 manually (3 minutes). How can I force the clients to sync their time with the server?

The clients run on windows xp - 7 and 8.

Any kind of help is much appreciated.

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migrated from Jun 10 '13 at 6:13

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One way is to set the Windows Service Windows Time (W32Time) to Automatically start. Then set an Scheduled Task to run w32tm /resync on whatever schedule you want.

If you are trying to force this to happen, the only way I am aware is to create a Domain Policy to do both.

We (Microsoft) do not guarantee and we do not support the accuracy of the W32Time service between nodes on a network. The W32Time service is not a full-featured NTP solution that meets time-sensitive application needs. The W32Time service is primarily designed to do the following; Make the Kerberos version 5 authentication protocol work, and Provide loose sync time for client computers. The W32Time service cannot reliably maintain sync time to the range of 1 to 2 seconds. Such tolerances are outside the design specification of the W32Time service.

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thanks for trying to help. w32tm /resync gives me a : Access is denied. (0x80070005) Error. and yes I'm trying to force the clients to update their time. Do you happen to know how to do it in Domain Policy? – Tera Jun 10 '13 at 4:15
opening cmd as administrator, w32tm /resync doesn't show any errors, but still the client time is different with the server.Any other idea? – Tera Jun 10 '13 at 4:25
Is the Client machine on a Domain? If it is, I don't know why. If it is not, then the client is getting a value from an NTP server outside your network. Your options are to either setup an NTP server on your server or have the server resync with the same NTP server the client is using ( by default for both I believe). – Erik Philips Jun 10 '13 at 17:47
yes, the client machine is logged in to the domain. How can I check if the server is acting as a NTP server or not? thank you – Tera Jun 11 '13 at 0:21

If you properly configure the time service on the forest root primary domain controller all other DC's and their clients in that AD forest will synchronise with their default settings. No additional policies, scripts, or mucking around for any domain server, member, or client. See the MS Technet Article How the Windows Time Service Works

I can't remember specifically which of the FSMO role holder indicates which server this is, but it is one of "Schema Master" or "Domain Naming Master" role holders. Though in most domains both of those FSMO roles will be on the same server which will typically be the first server in the domain to be setup.

Look at the MS page Configure the Windows Time service on the PDC emulator in the Forest Root Domain. It basically says to run a command like the following on that server so it can be marked as having a good time source that all other domain machines can sync with.

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:"" /reliable:yes /update

This will make your server use the following internet NTP servers


Setting the /reliable:yes switch will allow all other servers and clients to default to sync with this server on a regular basis. This way all other servers and clients can be left with their default settings. There is also a requirement that the time difference between current time on a device trying to sync and the forest root time server be less than 5 minutes for it to succeed.

Though I typically also set DHCP option 42 "NTP Servers" to specify a local DC or 2 to be a local NTP server for the DHCP clients/devices who are not domain members. DHCP option 4 "Time Servers" doesn't normally work as it seems to be old, deprecated and usually doesn't do anything.

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Worth noting - if your client and server times are too far separated (aka "drift") then NTP often wont sync up. You'll have to do it manually first to get them within that range, usually about +/-5 minutes and ensure your date is also set correctly on both machines.

Microsoft has a pretty robust document here regarding the Windows Time Service and also includes information for how to set it up within Group Policy:

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