Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. 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

It appears some computers in our computer lab have clocks running about 3-4 minutes fast.

As of right now, when we join a computer to the domain, it sets the clock based on our server's Domain Controller clock (Windows Server 2008 R2).

How can we have our server sync its time up with an external server that we are not joined to?

I'm not very network/server-savvy, but apparently the Windows Domain Group Policy will not allow this to be changed by default - so how can I override that setting so that our server can set its clock to sync with an external server?

share|improve this question
Could you clarify the question - there is a contradiction between "Synchronise a Non-Domain Server to a Domain Controller's Clock " and "How can we have this server regularly synchronize itself with an external non-domain time server?" – Sergei Dec 27 '11 at 19:12
We have a server in our building that our computers are joined to. But there is a time server on our campus that we want to automatically sync up to instead of basing its clock on the one within the Domain Controller. – Aaron Dec 27 '11 at 19:15
Why not sync the domain controller to sync to the dependable clock, instead? If your DC and joined systems do not have synced clocks, they will no longer be able to authenticate. – Shane Madden Dec 27 '11 at 19:27
When a computer is connected to a domain, it is much more important that its time agrees with the time on the domain controller than it is that the time is "correct". Therefore, whenever this situation arises the correct procedure is always to sync the DC with the time server and leave the domain members as they are. – RobM Dec 27 '11 at 20:19
Talk to your system administrator, who should already know how to do this. – John Gardeniers Dec 27 '11 at 20:35
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would recommend against doing anything where you would be overriding the time settings for your local domain joined systems.

What you should be able to do is change the time server set on the domain controller holding the PDC emulator role to point to your on campus clock. That should result in all the computers on your domain remaining correct relative to that system.

There are some horrible things that will happen if the difference between your domain controllers and any domain joined systems get too large. This is the safest route to go, imho.

EDIT - per your request this should do what you want. Execute on your PDC emulator.

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:<> /syncfromflags:MANUAL
w32tm /config /update

The IP address listed should be that of your campus time server.

share|improve this answer
I've been trying to do searches on instructions for this, seeing as I'm very inexperienced in this area. Where do I start? – Aaron Dec 27 '11 at 19:24
@Aaron Configure NTP settings in group policy (Computer -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Windows Time Service), in the Default Domain Controllers policy. – Shane Madden Dec 27 '11 at 19:29
Excellent answer Tim – SpacemanSpiff Dec 27 '11 at 19:36
From Remote Desktop Connection, I have loaded up the command prompt. I'm currently on C:\User\user Do I need to cd to something else before running these w32tm commands? – Aaron Dec 27 '11 at 20:23
You shouldn't need to. The account that you execute this under needs to have domain admin rights. The commands needs to execute from an elevated command prompt as well. – Tim Brigham Dec 27 '11 at 20:32

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.