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Best Practices for Using Network Time Protocol

Best Practices for Using Network Time Protocol

By implementing Network Time Protocol (NTP) into your workplace, you can achieve reliable and accurate time that’s the same across your various timekeeping devices. At times, latency and weak connections can hamper your servers and devices. To minimize the likelihood of occasional disruptions to your system, consider these best practices for using Network Time Protocol.

Use Two or More Time Servers

The idea behind utilizing two or more time servers is that they’ll be able to maintain redundancy should one server fail. If you just use one server, any issue it experiences will affect all your clocks. With two, that situation is removed.Most client NTP software allows for the selection of multiple time sources and will monitor them all for best source, or at minimum fail over to a second server should the first one report some issue. Additional servers on the network can also be used, but the minimum recommendation is to have at least a pair of servers.

Limit Your Strata Levels

You may have several stratum levels depending on the complexity of your NTP device network.. Each Stratum level adds a possibility of loss of accuracy in a network. As a consequence, a best practice for using Network Time Protocol is to try to limit the number of stratum levels that you use as much as possible. This will vary between different workplaces, but the closer a client is to your stratum one server, the better.

Monitor the Functional Status of Time Servers

It is important to monitor the function of NTP servers on a continuous basis. There are many different monitor packages available for this purpose. Products like the TM2000/TM2500 support SNMP monitoring that can be useful for getting real time status information about the time server, such as if GPS signal is lost, or holdover timing has expired. SNMP is a standards based monitoring system that may already be employed on a network and adding a couple additional devices can generally be easily accomplished.

Place Antennas in Unobstructed Areas

The time sources that many stratum one servers reference are GPS satellites. They obtain their time data by linking with those satellites using antenna. Naturally, if you place your servers in locations where there are structures and large objects blocking their signals, they may become less reliable. An ideal setup is to have an antenna in an outdoor position where nothing hinders it in any direction. Some higher sensitivity GPS receivers—such as those used with our TM2000 servers—can achieve sufficient connections from indoor positions near windows. Still, you may want to have outdoor antennas to achieve optimal NTP network stability.

Obtain NTP servers to form the backbone of your time network, as well as individual WiFi NTP digital clocks, by visiting TimeMachines online.

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