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Changing the Date and Time on Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server runs the client backups each night starting around midnight. This is usually ideal because it's late enough that you or anyone in your family won't be working on a client machine, but early enough that the server has sufficient time to complete all the client backups (which it performs one client at a time). So it's important that the time is set up correctly on Windows Home Server.

The server's internal date is important, too, because Windows Home Server uses the date to organize backups. If you need to restore a file or folder, you need the date to be accurate so you can tell which version of the file or folder to restore.

Setting the Current Date and Time

If the Windows Home Server date or time is off, follow these steps to make a correction:

  1. Launch the Windows Home Server Console.
  2. Click Settings to open the Windows Home Server Settings dialog box.
  3. In the General tab's Date & Time section, click Change to display the Date and Time Properties dialog box, shown in Figure 4.3.
    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 Use the Date and Time Properties dialog box to set the server's internal date and time.

  4. In the Date & Time tab, use the controls in the Date group to specify the current month, year, and day.
  5. Use the spin box in the Time group to specify the current hour, minute, second, and AM or PM. These four items are separate "sections" within the text box. Either edit each section directly, or click within a section and use the up and down arrows to increase or decrease the section value.
  6. To change the time zone, display the Time Zone tab, and then use the list to select your time zone.
  7. If you want Windows Home Server to adjust the time during daylight saving time changeovers, leave the Automatically Adjust Clock for Daylight Saving Changes check box activated. (Note that you only see this check box if your time zone uses daylight saving time.)
  8. Click OK to put the new settings into effect.

Synchronizing the Date and Time with a Time Server

If you want to ensure that Windows Home Server always has the accurate time, you can configure the system to synchronize with an Internet-based time server. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Launch the Windows Home Server Console.
  2. Click Settings to open the Windows Home Server Settings dialog box.
  3. In the General tab's Date & Time section, click Change to display the Date and Time Properties dialog box.
  4. In the Internet Time tab, make sure the Automatically Synchronize with an Internet Time Server check box is activated.
  5. Use the Server list to choose a time server.
  6. Click Update Now to synchronize the time manually. (Windows Home Server schedules the next synchronization for a week later.)
  7. Click OK to put the new settings into effect.

Unfortunately, the time synchronization in Windows Home Server (and, indeed, in all versions of Windows that support this feature) isn't very reliable. On my Windows machines, I usually have to configure a different time server by hand either using a command prompt session or by modifying the list of servers in the Internet Time tab. I most often use one of the time servers operated by the U.S. Navy:

tick.usno.navy.mil
tock.usno.navy.mil

Specifying the Time Server at the Command Prompt

To configure a time server via the command prompt, follow these steps:

  1. In Windows Home Server, select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt.
  2. Enter the following command to specify the time server you want to use. (Replace TimeServer with the domain name of the time server.)
    net time /setsntp:TimeServer
          
  3. Stop the Windows Time service by entering the following command:
    net stop w32time
  4. Restart the Windows Time service by entering the following command:
    net start w32time

When you restart the Time service, it automatically synchronizes with the time server you specified.

Adding Time Servers to the Internet Time Tab

Rather than working with the command prompt, you can customize the list of servers that appears in the Internet Time tab. Follow these steps:

  1. Select Start, Run (or press Windows Logo+R) to open the Run dialog box, type regedit, and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Display the following key:
    HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\DateTime\Servers
  3. Select Edit, New, String Value.
  4. Type the number that represents the next highest value among the settings in the Servers key, and then press Enter. For example, the default Servers key contains the settings 1 through 5, so for your first server, you'd type 6 (and press Enter).
  5. Press Enter or double-click the new setting to open the Edit String dialog box.
  6. Type the domain name (or IP address) of the time server, and then click OK.
  7. Repeat steps 3–6 to add other time servers.
  8. If you want one of your custom time servers to be the default server for synchronization, double-click the (Default) setting and change its value to the number that corresponds to the server you want to use as the default.
  9. Exit the Registry Editor.

The next time you open the Date and Time Properties dialog box and display the Internet Time tab, you see your custom time servers in the Server list, as shown in Figure 4.4.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 When you add time server settings to the Registry's Servers key, the servers appear in the Internet Time tab's Server list.

Customizing the Synchronization Interval

By default, Windows Home Server synchronizes with the default time server once a week. If you'd prefer that Windows Home Server synchronize more often—for example, once a day—you can follow these steps to customize the synchronization interval:

  1. Select Start, Run (or press Windows Logo+R) to open the Run dialog box, type regedit, and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Display the following key:
    HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\NtpClient
  3. Double-click the SpecialPollInterval setting to open the Edit DWORD Value setting.
  4. Click the Decimal option.
  5. In the Value Data text box, type the number of seconds you want to use as the synchronization interval. For example, to synchronize every 24 hours, type 86400.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Exit the Registry Editor.

To put the new setting into effect, you have two choices:

  • In the Date and Time Properties dialog box, display the Internet Time tab and then click Update Now.
  • Stop and then restart the Windows Time service. One way to do this is to use the net stop w32time and net start w32time commands I mentioned earlier. Alternatively, select Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services to open the Services snap-in. Click the Windows Time service, click the Stop link (see Figure 4.5), and then click the Start link.
Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 You can use the Services snap-in to stop and start the Windows Time service.

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