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10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 28, 2004 3:04 AM PDT

Thank you Patrick and all the participants in this past week?s Q&A!

Patrick if these submissions don?t help solve your issue with your computer?s clock, I hope you?ll join us in this thread so our helpful members can be of an assistance to further trouble shoot your problem.

I encourage all of you to read through Patrick M.?s great answer and the great honorable mentions which also include some good directions on replacing that CMOS battery and what to do incase the BIOS resets when you do change the battery.

If you have more questions, or additional advice, by all means free to post below in this thread. Maybe we can even tackle another clock problem with newer Operating systems such as Windows XP or even Macs.
The more we discuss the more we learn--it?s all up to you as community to contribute.

Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community


Question:

The clock on my computer (running Windows 98 SE) keeps losing
time--as much as one hour in three days. My computer is
always on, so what could be the cause of the time loss, and
how can I fix it?

Submitted by: Patrick R. of Murrieta, California


Answer:

You mentioned two important clues in your question.

First, that your operating system is Windows 98. Second, that your PC is always on.

Your PC has a motherboard with a CMOS clock (a clock Windows reads at regular intervals), powered by a coinlike battery, usually a CR2032 type.

Why is this important? Because either the battery is running low, or Windows 98 seems to lose time because your PC is always on.

To check if that small battery is running low, do the
following:

1. Run a MS-DOS prompt (Start > Programs > MS-DOS prompt)
2. At the DOS prompt, type time, then press Enter.
3. Compare this time with the time displayed on the Systray (the clock on the bottom right, the Windows clock).
4. Type exit and press Enter to quit the DOS box.

If there is a difference between both values, the battery should be replaced. Please refer to your motherboard's manual or manufacturer.

If the CMOS battery is OK, and I guess it probably is, the time loss is due to Windows 98 itself. Microsoft reports that it is an issue that affects Windows 95, 98, 98 SE, and Me. (See Microsoft's knowledge base article: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=189706&fr=1.)

To troubleshoot your problem, do the following:

1. Disable APM (Advanced Power Management) in your BIOS. Please refer to the manual of your board find out how to enter your BIOS (usually by hitting the Delete key) and disable APM. It is usually quite easy. Then, let Windows manage APM instead: Open the Control Panel, click Power Management, and select the settings you want for APM.

2. As a CPU is sometimes under a heavy load, please check that you are not using the following software, which can cause Windows 98 not to check the CMOS time regularly:

- Antivirus
- Screensavers
- System utilities
- Scheduled applications or "heavy" applications running in the background
- And, generally, any CPU-consuming applications

(You said that you left your PC on for several days; maybe you are running a server application.)

Disable the CPU-consuming application(s), except for the antivirus app; you wouldn't have your PC without one, right? Then if you conclude that it is the antivirus program, try a different one instead, perhaps a free one, such as AVG Anti-Virus.

3. If you can't identify which application(s) is not permitting Windows 98 to check the BIOS clock at regular intervals, try to reboot your PC once a day. (It is not a solution, just a workaround.)

4. Finally, if all this fails, try to install an application that sets your Windows clock from an atomic clock server (you may find the right one for your PC at CNET Download.com). There is also an application called Dimension 4, but I did not test it.

Anyway, never, ever install one of the so-called atomic clocks you may find while surfing the Net (such as a message that may read: "Do you want to run and install [supposed atomic clock program]?" They usually are malware (like dialers, spyware, and so on) that will affect your PC. Instead, choose an appropriate one from a reputable and clean download source.

Hope this will help you fix your problem.

Submitted by: Patrick M. of Amadora, PORTUGAL

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Honorable Mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 28, 2004 3:05 AM PDT

****** HONORABLE MENTIONS**********


Answer:

Patrick,

Windows 98 loses time for several reasons... It is a VERY well known issue.
Here are a few of the reasons WHY 98 "loses time":

1) When you hover over the time in the systray (on bottom right), it may stop the clock from ticking.
You would have to do that a lot to lose as much time as you are though.
2) Whenever you open the calendar in from the control panel or by double-clicking the time...

3) If you leave the computer on for a long period of time, it may lose up to an hour a day.

4) APM (advanced power management) enabled in BIOS. (Microsoft says disable it and let Windows configure it via the "Power Management" in Control
Panel)

5) Then there is a plethora of other reasons, Anti-virus programs, screensavers, third-party applications, etc, etc. etc.

6) Then FINALLY a week CMOS battery on the Motherboard itself (it looks like a big watch battery)

Here's how to FIX it:

1) goto Start---> Programs--> MS-DOS Command Prompt and type "time" (no quotations) and hit enter. Compare that displayed result time with the time on the computer. If they are different, then you may have a week CMOS battery & need to replace it.

2) But I will tell you from past experience that even if that is fixed then you may still continue to "lose time" for any of the other above mentioned reasons. You can try to disable the APM in BIOS, and disable any third-party programs you can live without, but it WILL still lose time.

3) Once you fix your CMOS battery or rule it out as a cause, Goto http://www.download.com/ Find and download "ATOMIC CLOCK SYNC 2.7.0.3"

That little program is FREE, contains no "spyware" and will sync your clock with your choice of NIST Atomic Clocks. That's what Windows XP does by default. I chose to use one of the less busy servers (other than Redmond, WA) because depending on traffic, it may be more or less difficult to connect & I like it to do it fast and quietly.

Keep it BetterBuilt
Best of Luck,
Thomas of Silverton, OR

Submitted by: Thomas L. of Silverton, OR

**********************************************************************

Answer:

When I started reading this article I thought Patrick just had a weak CMOS battery. After reading that he keeps his PC on all the time I suspected another possiblity. Your CMOS battery when it is working correctly will keep the correct time in the bios. Restarting your PC will reset the time from the bios if your battery is working. If you still lose time on your clock over a period of running time then I may have the answer.

Microsft has documented that it is a know issue for this problem in windows 98.
Window 98 can lose time in the clock and day date setting tool if your Advanced Power Management (APM) settings are enabled in the BIOS. and/or You configure your computer to use third-party anti-virus, system utility, and screen saver programs.

You should only attempt this fix if you are familiar with your systems bios settings and you are familiar with the system configuration utility (msconfig). You can fix this problem with one of these three steps;

One, Disable APM in the BIOS and configure Windows to manage APM. To configure Windows to manage APM Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel. Double-click Power Management, select the settings you want for APM, and then click OK.

Two, Disable third party antivirus software, screensavers, or system utilities

Three, Perform a clean boot. Use the system configuration utility to perform a clean boot. On the Tools menu, click System Configuration Utility. Start System Configuration Utility at the Run command. To do this, click Start, click Run, type msconfig.exe in the Open box, and then click OK. On the General tab, click Selective Startup, and then click to clear the following check boxes, Process Config.sys File, Process Autoexec.bat File, Process Winstart.bat File (if available) , Process System.ini File, Process Win.ini File, Load Startup Group Items. Click OK. Restart your computer.

Steps one and or two will most likely fix your problem. Step three will stop the problem if the other two won't but will require you to edit one or more of the files you unchecked unless you want to leave your startup in selective mode all the time.

For more help with this problem I have found the following Microsoft Knowledge Base articles to be of help. 189706 and 192926


Submitted by: Alvin W.

**********************************************************************


Answer:

Patrick, This is a very common problem for computers to have when you leave them on all the time. especially if your running an older machine or don't have much ram.

I suggest getting more ram and not running and unnecessary programs in the background.

also if you noticed, when ever you restart you're computer after this happens the time fixes itself because the system clock on the motherboard is independent from the rest of the computer.

every time you start your computer in windows the time is coped from the system clock into the ram and then displayed on the start bar.

After the computer is on for a long time, especially with low resources the clock loses time.

Submitted by: Anonymous

**********************************************************************

Answer:

Your computer may be "always on", but the system's Real-Time Clock still runs off the Motherboard battery. It may be that the battery on your motherboard is dead or dying. This is not the worst problem, but it is a nuisance. Once your battery dies, the CMOS chip has no way of keeping your BIOS settings, so every time you cold start your system, it will give you a BIOS error, and load the "Default Settings".

The remedy of this problem may or may not be easy. Older motherboards tend to have the battery soldiered on or included in a surface-mounted chip, which means it will be difficult or impossible to replace. Newer motherboards have the battery mounted in a clip-in socket, so it can be replaced if needed. Motherboards may use different batteries, so your motherboard battery may or may not be a "CR2016" watch battery, but they are usually a kind of watch (coin) battery easily found at your local market. It depends. You will have to open up your computer, and look for the battery to see what you can do about it. Just remember, shut down, tur off, and unplug your system before openeing it, and hold onto the bare metal part of the case, NOT the power suppply or painted areas to prevent static discharge...

Submitted by: Mike H.

**********************************************************************

Answer:

Your computer may be "always on", but the system's Real-Time Clock still runs off the Motherboard battery. It may be that the battery on your motherboard is dead or dying. This is not the worst problem, but it is a nuisance. Once your battery dies, the CMOS chip has no way of keeping your BIOS settings, so every time you cold start your system, it will give you a BIOS error, and load the "Default Settings".

The remedy of this problem may or may not be easy. Older motherboards tend to have the battery soldiered on or included in a surface-mounted chip, which means it will be difficult or impossible to replace. Newer motherboards have the battery mounted in a clip-in socket, so it can be replaced if needed. Motherboards may use different batteries, so your motherboard battery may or may not be a "CR2016" watch battery, but they are usually a kind of watch (coin) battery easily found at your local market. It depends. You will have to open up your computer, and look for the battery to see what you can do about it. Just remember, shut down, tur off, and unplug your system before openeing it, and hold onto the bare metal part of the case, NOT the power suppply or painted areas to prevent static discharge...


Submitted by: Trevor G.

**********************************************************************

Answer:

There could be several different causes for a computer to lose track of the time, but the key here is ?my computer is always on?.

Your computer keeps track of time using a CMOS clock, which is powered by a tiny battery. When your computer starts up, Windows checks the CMOS clock and accepts whatever time the CMOS clock gives it. From then on, Windows keeps track of time itself. If the clock is incorrect when your computer first starts then the most likely cause of this problem is a bad CMOS battery. This does not seem to be the case for you, however, because you lose time over a period of days. This means that Windows is losing track of the time.

Windows gets ?distracted? from keeping time when its resources are dedicated to other programs. Memory intensive programs such as games, music or video will use a large amount of memory and processor power; other programs such as anti-virus software, screen savers and chat programs are always running. These programs all keep Windows busy, causing it to ?forget? to keep track of time.

There are several easy ways to fix this problem. Simply restarting your computer once a day will allow Windows to obtain the correct time from the CMOS clock. Also, if you limit the amount of programs running at once, especially the programs mentioned above, Windows will pay more attention to the clock. Lastly, you can also install internet timeserver software. This program will keep your clock in sync by connecting to a server on the internet and verifying the current time.

Hope this helps.


Submitted by: Joe M.

**********************************************************************

Answer:

If you're still using Windows 98SE, I came to the assumption that you have an older computer and the problem is the CMOS battery is dying. One obvious sign of the dying CMOS battery is the real time clock losing time.

The CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) is ususally located in the chipset on the motherboard.) It requires a very low voltage battery such as a coin cell 3V lithium battery. The CMOS chip is used to store system information and configurations when the computer is both powered on and turned off.

On older p.c.'s the average lifespan of the CMOS battery is about five years. Turning your p.c. on and off frequently i.e. everyday drains it faster. I suggest having it replaced it unless it is soldered to the motherboard. You might want to consider if troubleshooting/replacing the motherboard on an older p.c. is worth the effort. At that age other problems start to develop such as the hard drive going bad, corrupted RAM, etc.
Perhaps it's time to upgrade to a new p.c. rather than potentially wasting alot of money on a machine that is on the verge of expiring all together.

Submitted by: - Julie A. of San Francisco, CA, USA

**********************************************************************

Answer:

Most often, this is about replacing the "CMOS" battery CR2032. See one or buy one at an electronics store. It's about the size of a nickel. BUT you must record your "setup" or "BIOS" settings because pulling the old battery may make the motherboard go to default settings.
1. Start your PC and hit the proper keyboard key to "enter setup". It could be Delete or F!, F2, CTRL-ALT-ENTER, CTRL-ALT-ESC, and others.
2. Navigate the setup page by using the arrow keys on the keyboard, sometimes hitting Enter to subnavigate. Write down the info and settings, on each page, and subentries. This can be quite laborious. Some settings aren't changeable as they are fixed in the motherboard. Note that on the 1st or main page, you have a choice of loading "BIOS defaults" or "setup defaults". Setup defaults are faster.
3. "Exit discarding changes". This way you won't make accidental changes at this point.
4. Open the left side (usually) of your PC, power off, cables detached.
5. Locate the button CMOS battery and pop it out and the new one in.
6. Boot up your PC and see if everything boots normally, all devices operating.
7. If not, or first, go into setup and check that settings are as they were, changing to what you wrote down as needed. Reset your time as you have been doing.
Because this is tricky, you may want to justify having a tech shop do it, after calling for an estimate. The battery costs only about $4 to $5 but techs may want an extra $10 to $20 to do it right for you.

Submitted by: Jon W.

**********************************************************************

Answer:

The clocks on PC's are known not to be very accurate. Some people have a utility running all the time in order to synchronize their PC with the atomic clock. Many freeware and shareware are available to perform this duty.

Since most PC's I have come across lose an average of a couple of minutes per month; however, in your particular case, I see 2 possibilites: A, [this is the easiest solution], if this problem started fairly recently and was non-existent when the motherboard was new, then I suspect your CMOS battery is going. Battery model CR-2032 is very popular with many motherboards. If this is the model of the battery in your board, you can replace it yourself since it only cost a couple of bucks. It looks like a nickel. After replacing it, you will have to reset your BIOS, the date and the time. If you are not comfortable doing this, any reputable technician can do it for a very low cost since it only takes about 10 minutes to do it.
B, if after replacing the battery, the clock continues to be off by more than a few minutes per month, then I suggest you obtain a clock-synchronizing utility program [freeware or shareware] and have it added to your startup group of programs so that it will automatically adjust your clock everytime you start your PC.
Good luck.


Submitted by: Robert K.

**********************************************************************

Answer:

Clock Losing Time.

The battery has run down.
Replacing the battery is quite simple.
First remove the power cord from the computer. Then hold the power button in for about ten seconds, to let any charges that remain dissapiate. Open the computer case. Look on the mother board for the battery, it should be round and flat, like a watch battery. It could be big or smallish, most likely big. There should be some type of clip holding it in, the clip could have a screw or just slide over it. The clip is a connection as well, so dont damage it. Batterys are easy to find, I usually head to Radio Shack.

Submitted by: Jim B. of Winston Salem, NC USA

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Re: Honorable Mentions
by Kitty I / September 30, 2004 10:01 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable Mentions

I have a laptop. When my battery went out I had to spend a little over $200.00 to replace it. It was not a little disc shaped thing like a watch battery. It was as long as the width of my computer, about 2 inches wide and approximately 1/4 inch thick. Is there another battery (disc shaped like a watch battery) I may need to replace someday? Or is the long narrow battery the only one? And is $200.00 a reasonable price for this kind of battery?

Thank you,

Kitty I

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Laptop battery
by gmgorski / September 30, 2004 11:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Honorable Mentions

I have researched some laptops for this problem and found that several do not have separate batteries for the CMOS. Included in this group are the early iBook models from Apple. Manufacturer support sites usually have this information, but you usually have to spend some time digging into the documentation for your particular laptop.

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Re: Honorable Mentions
by Jay / October 1, 2004 12:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Honorable Mentions

That battery is the one that actually powers your laptop when it is running. The little round battery is the one that powers the CMOS when your computer is turned off. The CMOS is where all your hardware settings, such as the clock, drive types, etc, is at.

As far as prices go, that depends totally upon the laptop battery. Without knowning the model/type it's impossible to say whether you got a good deal or not.

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Windows 98 not keeping time
by rleemann / September 30, 2004 10:17 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable Mentions

I see the problem with Windows 98 - it's garbage you need to upgrade to Wiondows XP SP2

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by rients / September 30, 2004 6:30 PM PDT

Since this Computer run always there will never be a Power On Self Test. As we all know only at the end of the POST the time is copied from the CMOS-clock into the systemboards realtime-clock. So Patrick could, once he started his computer, remove the battery and pray his UPS will keep the system on passing all main-powerfails.
So the CMOS-battery is excluded from being the reason of losing the time.
Most likely its Windows being to busy to keep track of all interupts for updating the time. This should be more or less random; Patrick should notice that the clock is losing time, but it should not be exact the same amount of time every day.
However, when it is every day exactly the same amount there is something misconfigured in windows' way of keeping track of time: The raltime clock in the systemboard is updated bij a timer interrupt comming from the main clock on the chipset.

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by dgoadby / September 30, 2004 6:35 PM PDT

Lots of you have mentioned the battery and I think it may not be the problem. If the clock and CMOS ram are maintaining time and values when the computer is OFF (try a couple of hours) then the battery is ok. When Windows starts up it gets the CMOS time just the once and from then on it keeps it's own time using the system tix. I have a machine where the CMOS time is perfect and the Windows time loses about 5 minutes a day and I reboot once a day to get round it. When I load Linux on the same PC it runs perfectly. Ditto Windows 2000. My assertion is Windows 98 loses a few interrupts (tix) from time to time (sic) when loaded. We must remember that Win98 is not a true multi-tasking OS and there is a great reliance on tasks yielding in order for the psudo multi-tasking to work at all.

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by Nudeman / September 30, 2004 10:44 PM PDT

There is a FREE downloadable program from http://www.claria.com/ called Precision Time, Will when your on-line check your clock to the atomic world clock and you will be able to resinc your computer clock to the correct time.
Since this is a FREE program you will encounter some advertisement from Claira.com that will pop-up on your screen. If you don't want the advertisement then you can buy the program from Claira.com, But for a FREE program I don't mind a few advertisements popping up on my screen.

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by joseph321 / October 1, 2004 12:27 PM PDT

well nudeman yes free programs do come with a restriction and the advertisement you might be cool with but one important thing i dont like spyware in my computer or my internet surfing habits privacy violated

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by Aero1 / September 30, 2004 10:58 PM PDT

Electronic clocks are slow/fast because the crystal oscillators are slow/fast. This is mainly a matter of the accuracy of physical crystal resonator itself. The other main causes of frequency drift are temperature and aging. Accurate oscillators are most always in a temperature controlled oven. Your wrist watch, for example, is stabilized by your pretty consistent body temperature, etc.

It is possible to adjust crystal oscillators very slightly generally by placing a small variable capacitor across the crystal (or an inductor in series with it), but no PC I've seen has such an adjustment.

So there's nothing to be done but to live with the inaccuracy. What I do is run a time keeping app (eg, Clockwise) that resets my clock every night to an on-line atomic standard so that I don't have to worry about it.

And that's all, folks.

w3, an old hardware engineer

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by Aero1 / September 30, 2004 11:36 PM PDT

One more item. There are "Atomic Clocks" that you can buy for a few dollars that work fine and keep time to within a small part of a second forever (as long as they are still functioning). NIST (old Bureau of Standards) broadcasts VLF radio signals that are coded with Time of Day info and whose carrier frequencies are coherent translations of their atomic standard.

VLF (Very Low Frequency, 20 kHz - 100 kHz) propagates as a ground wave and is very stable. The only disturbance is a phase shift when it crosses the "terminator", the transition from day to night. To avoid this slight error these inexpensive little clock radios synchronize to NIST in the middle of the night, and also correct for the slight speed-of-light transmission lag based upon your time zone - not bad for $6.95.

w3/Aero1

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by langr / October 1, 2004 1:08 AM PDT

Patrick mentioned Dimension4 in his reply - I've been using it for several years (Win2K) and it works beautifully - sets the time to the Naval Observatory's (or a number of other) atomic clock at selectable intervals. No ads and the price is right - free!

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by skyraidervu5 / October 1, 2004 1:54 AM PDT

Another way to check your time is to log on to "time.nist.gov". This is the web site of The National Institute of Standards. This does not fix batteries or anything else, it is just a way to coordinate time.

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by vb_ken / October 1, 2004 3:11 AM PDT

A very nice free utility for syncronizing to an atomic clock is "Atomic Timesync" from AnalogX. I have been using it for several years. No nag screens and no advertising. It's available at www.analogx.com/contents/download/network/ats.htm

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by quiggo / October 1, 2004 7:20 AM PDT

Patrick M's answer is an excellent start if you want to probe. An easier and more permanent way is to junk Window's 98 (or Win Me for that matter)and upgrade to Xp Home assuming you meet the minimum requirements.

This is what I did and I have never been so free from so many flaws that 98/Me contained. I'm delighted with the reliability I now have.

George Quigley

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by kdep7344 / October 1, 2004 10:39 PM PDT

I was having the same problem with the computer clock losing time, running Windows 2000. I had reset the time from the time/date icon on the taskbar, but it still kept losing time. I then went into BIOS and discovered the computer clock itself did not have the correct time. So once I reset the clock to the correct time, saved it and exited, the time has stayed consistent till now with being correct. I had also thought it was the CMOS battery. I will wait and see. I have learned to back up my personal data files regularly in case I lose power.

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by LouBanks / October 3, 2004 10:08 AM PDT

Hey do your self a BIG favor forget all the technical jaz and simply do a search on the internet for "Atomictime". It is a simple program. When you feel like your pc clock is off, or anytime you want to, simply just go on line and click on Atomictime.exe, click on check time, then click on adjust time. This will automaticly adjust your pc to the Atomic clock in Colorado. The program is free and works great. Been using it for years. I've had many PC's over the years and have yet found "1" that keeps good time. Its not the operating system your using. Just like any watch you have, either it runs too fast or too slow.

Enjoy,

Lou Banks

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by LouBanks / October 3, 2004 10:34 AM PDT

Anyway, never, ever install one of the so-called atomic clocks you may find while surfing..... BULL

I've been using this program for years never even once had any problems, so spyware of anykind. Here is the website I got it from.


http://schmail.com/atomictime/

Lou Banks

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by jonjon1946 / October 6, 2004 7:26 AM PDT

If anyone is interested in keeping their computer's clock accurate, go
tho this link, http://www.worldtimeserver.com/ , and download a free
utility program that can be installed on their computer. It will keep
the computer's clock in sync with the atomic clock. It can be run
24/7/365 or only as desired. Have fun!

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Re: 10/01/04 The clock on my computer keeps losing time!
by royc / October 10, 2004 2:33 PM PDT
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Is there an automatic facility to correct my computer clock
by jkpsr / November 13, 2005 2:31 PM PST

I am running WIN2000 SP 4, (5.00.2195) on a Shuttle motherboard using an AMD processor. I have, on my system, a All In Wonder Rage 128 32mb AGP graphics processor and TV tuner and a wideband cable modem connection, running at 1-6mps. Is there any way to have my computer clock updated automatically through either of these connections or through other hardware?

Thanks,

Jack

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Forget this, I figured it out!
by jkpsr / December 10, 2005 10:11 AM PST

I figured out how to do this.

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