Demystifying Group Policy Settings

The settings for the Windows Time Service exposed through group policy have long been seen as a bit mysterious, and for good reason. Well, today we will take the first steps towards remedying that problem. After spending a good amount of time with one of my favorite writers (thanks Kurt!), we have developed a revised text for explaining these group policy settings.

Keep in mind that this is simple text. The prupose is not to explain every scenario where these values should be changed or which environments dictate that a change be made. Rather the point of this text is simply to provide a better understanding of what these values are, what effect they will have on the Time Service, and what values are applicable when adjusting these settings.


Comments (3)

  1. big fan of time says:

    Hi Ryan, I’ve enjoyed your blog postings, especially the one about how clients weight which server to contact; I know Windows Time isn’t the sexiest service, but hey, it’s important.

    I wasn’t sure where to submit something like this, so this seems as good a place as any.  I was using w32tm on Server 2008 and Vista and noticed when I give it an unexpected argument it responds:

    "The following argumetnts were unexpected:"

    A small typo, but it kind of sticks out. 🙂

    (It’s correct on Server 2003)

  2. Ryan Sizemore says:

    Glad to hear we have a fan! I will file a bug so we can get this fixed. Thanks for pointing this out!

  3. hgerstung says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I just wanted to thank you for this blog – which I just discovered with the help of a post in comp.protocols.time.ntp 😉

    Good to know that you are taking care of W32tm and its numerous user (often unknown to themselves). I will definitely send a few customers your way which experience problems with setting up everything the right way.

    One thing I would like to see is a short comparison of the different w32tm versions used in XP, 2003, Vista and 2008. We feel that they sometime behave completely different even between two SP levels of the same OS and a hint or a config setting we recommended sometimes becomes counter productive after the next update.

    Keeping us all informed about changes in w32tm in upcoming SPs and new OS products would be a huuuge relief.

    The other thing I would like to learn more about is how to use a hardware reference (like a GPS time receiver connected to the serial port or a PCI/PCIe slot card) with w32tm. I know that it does not make a lot of sense to even try and put direct support for the large number of available clocks in w32tm, but most products come with their own drivers and software to ensure that the system time is correct down to a fraction of a second. How can I set this up correctly on my Windows machine and how can I monitor that it actually works?

    Something like that would be extremely helpful to most users, I belief.

    Again, thanks a bunch for maintaining this blog! Now I go and start my PR machine for you 😉



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