How to Set an NTP Server Group Policy

By Steve McDonnell

When users share files on a network and the clocks on their computers are different, it can be hard to determine which version of a file is the latest version. That's just one reason why it's critically important for the clocks on networked computers to be in sync with one another. On a Microsoft Windows network, configure the Group Policy settings for the domain controller to synchronize its time with an external NTP server, and configure the Group Policy settings for the client computers on the network to synchronize their time with the domain controller.

Set Domain Controller Policy

Step 1

Click "Windows-R," type "gpmsc.msc" in the text box, and then press "Enter" to launch the Group Policy Management Console.

Step 2

Expand the forest and domain in the tree, and then select "Domain Controllers." Right-click "Domain Controllers" and choose "Create and Link a GPO Here..." from the context menu.

Step 3

Type a name for the policy, such as "Master Time Synchronization," and then choose "OK."

Step 4

Right-click the GPO you created and choose "Edit" from the context menu to open the GPO editor.

Step 5

Choose "Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | System | Windows Time Service." Select "Time Providers," and then double-click "Windows NTP Server."

Step 6

Click the "Enabled" button to enable the server as a master time server for the network. Enter the name of the external time server in the NtpServer box -- for example, "us.pool.ntp.org."

Step 7

Select "NTP" for the Type field, and then choose "OK" to save your changes.

Set Client Computer Policy

Step 1

Locate the "Client Computers" container in the tree under the forest and domain while still in the Group Policy Management Console.

Step 2

Right-click the container and choose "Create and Link a GPO Here..." from the context menu. Type a name for the policy, such as "Client Time Synchronization," and then choose "OK." Right-click the policy you created and choose "Edit" from the context menu.

Step 3

Choose "Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | System | Windows Time Service."

Step 4

Select "Time Providers," and then double-click "Configure Windows NTP Client."

Step 5

Choose the "Enabled" radio button to enable the service. Enter the name or address of the domain controller that's providing the time service in the NtpServer field.

Step 6

Select "NT5DS" in the Type field, and then choose "OK" to save your changes.

Tips & Warnings

  • You will have to wait for the group policy to propogate before it takes effect on the network. To update a client computer immediately, open a command prompt, and then type the following commands, pressing "Enter" after each: "gpupdate /force", "net stop w32time" and "net start w32time".
  • The master time server must be able to synchronize with the external NTP server over port 123.