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Public NTP Servers vs. GPS NTP Servers

Public NTP Servers vs. GPS NTP Servers

Time is a metric that people use at all levels of society to coordinate and keep track of their activities. Therefore, it’s crucial for businesses, government facilities, schools, and other establishments to have accurate time displays. You can synchronize your building’s clocks and devices by connecting them to an NTP server. The question remains, though, whether you should simply use NTP servers that you can access over the internet or purchase your own physical server that receives its time information directly from GPS satellites. Make an informed decision by evaluating these points of difference between public NTP servers vs. GPS NTP servers.

Precision and Reliability

While your goals remain the same with both options, there can be a tangible distinction that you notice when comparing the precision and reliability of public and private GPS NTP servers. This comes down to how closely your clocks and other devices are linked to time sources. With internet-based NTP servers, you’re using time information that has come from some remote origin, such as an atomic clock, which then transfers the time to a public server. After this, your devices receive time from the public server over the web. Should your network connection be carry significant traffic, your time displays may not always be as accurate as you need them to be.

In contrast, GPS NTP servers sit in your campus network footprint and are locally tied to the time-displaying devices that they serve. Internet disruptions and slow speeds won’t hurt your time precision. This direct connection also reduces the chance for latency to affect the time information as it moves from the server to the devices. Consequently, networks that obtain their time from public servers can have millisecond, or worse, deviations, while internal GPS server variances are typically much smaller.


At a glance, it may appear to be better to use public NTP servers because anyone can use them. However, this also means that they are under more demand from a greater number of people. Thus, your devices can only gain time information from them every few seconds, which can make them even less precise when you also consider the limitations previously mentioned. If you have your own GPS NTP server, however, your facility will be the only one using it. So, its accessibility will be much higher, with support for several hundred requests for time information going through every second.


As with accessibility, cost initially seems to favor public NTP servers. You don’t need to purchase anything extra to utilize them. So long as you have access to the internet, you can link with a public server. Yet, upon closer investigation of public NTP servers vs. private GPS NTP servers, you’ll realize that the latter option can be more cost-effective. This is because the unreliability of public servers can end up costing your organization much more. A single significant time synchronization error could have a large influence on internal computer systems, productivity, and subsequent operational decisions., and cost significantly more than the initial investment in a private GPS time server. Your system may become paralyzed when your internet connection fluctuates or when someone attacks your network. But with a GPS server, you’ll provide fewer paths for issues to arise with device function and virtual security.

To find GPS NTP servers and Wi-Fi synchronized clocks that can connect with them, call TimeMachines, and take a look at the products we offer on our website.

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