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Network Time Servers: What You Should Know

clock server

Network time servers, or a clock server for short, is a computer server that reads the actual time from a point of reference. By reading this reference clock, a clock server then distributes the time information across all clients and members on your server using a computer network. The clock server may use a local network time or an internet time server to get the most accurate time.

Why should I care about network time servers?

One of the reasons a clock server is so important is that it’s designed to synchronize time across several devices throughout a local area network or a world wide network. For example, you might have wifi wall clocks or a wifi digital clock that needs to offer the correct display at all times. Using a clock server would sync the clocks to all display the correct time, no matter where you are in your building.

On a larger scale (think worldwide, or at least across town), a clock server might be used to ensure a proper sequence of events across multiple nodes in a network. For example, if a sequence of events requires several devices to fire simultaneously, a clock server syncs the time of these devices to ensure they are all firing correctly.

NTP vs. PTP: Different types of protocol

In 2002, IEEE defined and standardized PTP (Precision Time Protocol) as a way to sync clocks throughout a computer network. This came decades after NTP (Network Time Protocol).

Network Time Protocol servers can sync devices and clocks down to the millisecond. That seems like an incredibly small amount of time that wouldn’t normally cause any concerns. However, even a millisecond is far too long to some cases.

Precision Time Protocol, on the other hand, can sync devices and clocks down to the nano or picosecond. PTPs do this by using incredibly specialized hardware rather than relying exclusively on software. The added accuracy of a PTP server allows networks to account for latency, making network syncs incredibly accurate.

So which is best for you? Because PTP relies on hardware, it is going to be both more costly and a little harder to set up and maintain. Precision Time Protocol should be used in situations where the utmost accuracy is required.

If extreme accuracy is not required, you can still benefit from the incredible accuracy of a NTP clock server. This option is beneficial in almost every situation.

Advantages of using a clock server

Though your network might not have a clock server yet, there are many advantages of using an internet time server. Here are some of the most important:

  • Scheduled Data Backup.
    One of the most critical aspects of a business is the data they collect and store. It doesn’t matter if the data is your CRM, or if you are developing a new drug for diabetes, scheduled data backup can end up saving you thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of work. A clock server network can help ensure you have automated scheduled backups for your data across multiple servers.
  • Network Management System
    If something can go wrong, it will go wrong. And when something goes wrong, having the ability to examine system logs is a crucial step in understanding what caused the flaw in the first place. However, if these logs are out of sync, it can take a ton of extra man hours sorting through and finding out what went wrong before your server can get up and running again. Having a clock server can help ensure the system logs are synced and ready to be examined in the event of a server failure.
  • Network Intrusions (aka Hackers)
    Cyber security is an extremely important factor for any business. In the event you are targeted as part of a cyber attack, having an accurately time-stamped router and server logs will help you determine how your system and network was compromised. A common tactic of hackers is to delete system logs and files to give themselves more time to exploit your network. Having a clock server in place can help in these extremely time-sensitive situations.

When your business is ready to invest in an accurate clock server, contact the experts at Time Machines Corp today.

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