In today’s day and age, we often take the accuracy of time for granted. We assume that when we check our computers, our cell phones, or any other electronic device, the time is correct. There is, of course, a science behind timekeeping in the technological world, and many people find themselves questioning the process. If you find yourself needing to understand this process, check out these five FAQs for Network Time Servers:
1. What is a Network Time Server?
Essentially, a time server gathers an accurate time from a source or reference, most often an atomic clock or GPS system, and relays the information to a computer network. An NTS allows different computer systems to run on the same time reference, so that information is communicated accurately. This is a very important component to a computer system, if not the most important, as it manages to keep programs and applications on a strict schedule.
2. What is NTP?
The term NTP stands for Network Time Protocol. The NTP is simply a set procedure dictating clock synchronization between computer systems. The goal of NTP is to bring into line multiple systems on the same time reference. It is based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is the commonly used time schedule worldwide. Remarkably, the NTP manages to synchronize time to within milliseconds. This is the most commonly used scheme in the world of time servers.
3. Why would you need an NTS?
The most important reason to maintain a Network Time Server is to align embedded systems accurately, so that the network continues to function efficiently and precisely. An embedded system is an application that is run within an electronic product but is not an actual computer. Embedded systems have one function and are thus cheaper and easier to manufacture than entire computers. An NTS allows embedded systems to communicate on the same time reference, thereby decreasing costs.
4. What is the difference between an atomic clock and a NTS?
An atomic clock is a device that utilizes atoms to maintain accurate timekeeping. Generally, atomic clocks are the most accurate timekeeping methods available, as they rely on electronic transition frequency. These devices are most commonly used in GPS systems. Often, a Network Time Server will rely on an atomic clock for its readings of time. The server takes the time readings from an atomic clock and ensures that all other applications are running according to schedule.
5. How is a network managed?
Just like any other computer system, regular scheduled back-ups should be maintained. If the Server fails to synchronize the multiple embedded systems, the entire network may fail. Also, these networks can be vulnerable to outside attacks. Monthly maintenance, at a minimum is recommended. The system log should keep track of time stamps and is the first place to check when there is a bug. The priority of any owner of an NTS should be to keep the network secure and regularly updated.
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