The NTP Server -A Beginner’s Guide

Managing computer networks is one of the most difficult aspects of information and communication technologies (ICT). The logistics of connecting terminals, routers, printers and all other devices can leave many administrators with a constant headache.

One of the most important aspects that are often overlooked and can have disastrous consequences is that of time synchronization.

How do I find my ntp server?

Click the Windows Start button if you want to run. This opens the command prompt. Press the “enter” key to type “Net Time /querysntp” in the command prompt. This shows the settings on the NTP server. The name of the server is shown but you can use the “ping” command to get the address.

what ntp server am I using?

Use command line as administrator and execute w32tm /query w32tm /status. You can get all details of your NTP server configuration.

It is imperative that all the devices in a network are indicating the same time as ´timestamp´ or timestamps, the format in which a computer transmits the time between one and another, is the only way of reference that a computer can use to establish a sequence of events. If different machines on a network are indicating different times then unforeseen consequences will occur, such as emails that arrive before they have technically been sent and other anomalies that will make the administrator’s headache even worse.

What’s more, an out-of-sync computer network is open to security threats and even fraud. Fortunately, the NTP time server has been around for many years and can help alleviate the time synchronization headache.

NTP (Network Time Protocol) is one of the oldest protocols used by computer networks. Developed almost three decades ago, NTP is a protocol that checks the time on all devices on the network and adds or subtracts enough time to make sure they are all in sync.

what ntp server am i usingNTP requires a reference time to synchronize the clocks on the network. While NTP can synchronize a network at any time, an authoritative source of time is obviously the best solution. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) is a calendar used worldwide based on the date of said atomic clocks. As atomic clocks lose less than a second of time in over a thousand years, UTC is by far the best source of time to synchronize to a network. Not only will your network be perfectly synchronized, but it will also be synchronized at the same time as millions of computer networks around the world.

An NTP server can receive a UTC time reference from various sources. The Internet is the most obvious source, however, Internet synchronization sources are notoriously inaccurate and those that are not can be relatively useless if the distance is too far. Furthermore, having placed your NTP server securely behind the firewall would be in vain to have to keep a hole open in it to allow the NTP server to poll the sync reference over the web and leave the entire network vulnerable. in particular when NTP authentication (NTP’s own security measure) is not possible over the Internet.

There are two much more secure and accurate methods of receiving a UTC timing reference. The first is to use the national time and frequency transmissions that various countries broadcast from their national physics laboratories. These are usually broadcast through the long waves, which has the advantage of being able to be collected within a server room even though many countries do not have that signal.

However, many NTP servers can use the time signal transmitted by atomic clocks onboard GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites. This signal is available everywhere, but a GPS antenna is required that can get a clear view of the sky.

By using a UTC time source either through the GPS network or by radio transmissions a computer network can be synchronized within a few milliseconds of UTC time.

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