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Configuring Windows 2000 to use the Network Time Protocol (NTP)

This page tells you how to set your Windows 2000 computer to syncronize the clock to a network server using the Network Time Protocol (NTP).
Last updated: 23 September 2011

NTP (the Network Time Protocol) is a method by which computers on a network can automatically keep their clocks in sync. If you want to use NTP then you will need the name or IP address of at least one NTP server. Examples are time.apple.com or time.windows.com. It is best to use the same server as is used by other computers at your site.

Windows XP (and Vista) allows you to set an NTP server from the control panel. Windows 2000 does not. If you have Windows XP or later then just go to the Date/Time control panel item and enter the name of your time server. If you have Windows 2000 then choose one of the two methods below.

(Early versions of Windows 2000 used the NT 4.0 version of the W32Time service, and this page originally documented how to change those settings. If you have such a computer you should upgrade it. The earlier instructions are still reproduced below.)

Windows 2000 W32Time service

Configuration parameters for the W32Time service are now stored in the registry (since at least Windows 2000, Service Pack 4, and perhaps earlier). You can change the settings either via the command line or by editing the registry directly. Either way, you must be logged on as the Administrator to change the time source.

Windows uses a simplified version of the Network Time Protocol (NTP), which is called SNTP, so you will notice references to both NTP and SNTP here and in the Microsoft documentation.

Command Line

To give commands to Windows on the command line you can either use the mouse to pull down Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt, or you can select Start -> Run... and enter "command" as the file to open. Remember, you must be the Administrator.

To see the current time server setting give the command

 net time /querysntp
To set the time server give a command like
 net time /setsntp:time.apple.com
Once you change the server you should restart the time service with the command
 net stop w32time && net start w32time
This information was extracted from Microsoft Support Knowledge Base article 216734: " How to configure an authoritative time server in Windows 2000

Editing the Registry

These instructions tell you what to do to enable or alter the use of the Network Time Protocol (NTP) on Windows 2000 by editing the registry. This information was extracted from Microsoft Support Knowledge Base article 223184: "Registry entries for the W32Time service"
  1. From the "Start" menu select "Run..." and enter "regedt32".
  2. Find the window for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and then open the following subkeys (they look like sub-folders): SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services
  3. Find and highlight the key W32Time

  4. Make a backup copy of this key (just in case) by saving it to a file. Pull down Registry->Save Key and save to a file called W32Time.reg (or another appropriate name).

  5. Open the W32Time key (double click on it) and select the "Parameters" subkey (subfoler).

  6. Find the item "NtpServer" and set its value to the server name or IP address. If this value does not exist (which is likely the first time you configure the service) then highlight the "Parameters" key and pull down the Edit menu to "Add Value...". The value name is "NtpServer" and the type is "REG_SZ". Then enter the server name or IP address as the String value.

  7. Verify that the following items exist with the proper values:
    Type NTP
    Period SpecialSkew
    NtpServer <IP address or name of server>
    LocalNTP 0
    See the MS suport article for alternate choices for the Period. Setting LocalNTP to "1" would make your machine a time server, not just a client, which you probably don't want to do.

    You may specify more than one time server by separating the entries with spaces (don't use commas).

  8. When you are done, pull down Registry->Exit.
Once you have made these changes to the registry, you need to stop and restart the Time Service, and make sure that it is started automatically at boot time. To do so:
  1. Right click on "My Computer" and select "Manage".
  2. Open "Services and Applications" and select "Services"
  3. Find the service named "Windows Time" and double-click on it to open the properties dialog.
  4. Make sure the start type is "Automatic". If the service is running then stop it. Then start the service.

NT 4.0 W32Time service

The W32Time service from Windows NT 4.0 appears to work also in early versions of Windows 2000. You may enable this service by performing the following steps as the Administrator:
  1. Using a text editor (such as Notepad or Wordpad) create a file called C:\WINNT\W32Time.INI containing:


    Replace time.apple.com with the name of your desired time server (eg. louie.udel.edu, which is a stratum 2 server.)

  2. Enable the Windows Time service by doing the following:
    1. Right click on "My Computer" and select "Manage".
    2. Double click on "Services and Applications", then double click on "Services"
    3. Find the "Windows Time" service at the bottom of the list, right click on it and select "Properties" from the menu.
    4. Under "Startup type:" select "Automatic".
    5. Under "Server status:" press "Start".
    6. Press "OK".


  1. Rath, Christopher,  Window 2000 Network Time Protocol Crib Sheet, http://www.rath.ca/Misc/W2K_NTP_Crib_Sheet.shtml
  2. Microsoft Support: The Windows Time Service
  3. Microsoft TechNet: Registry entries for the W32Time service
  Copyright © 2011 by Spy Hill Research https://www.spy-hill.net/help/windows/W32Time.html (served by Islay.spy-hill.com) Last modified: 23 September 2011