Network Time Protocol (NTP)

August 25, 2015 | Views: 3993

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NTP and Its Function

There are many network services running silently and without any interaction. One of them is the NTP (Network Time Protocol) service. Many often forget how important this protocol is.


What is NTP?

In the most basic description, NTP is a networking protocol that helps us keep the time up-to-date. However. its’ importance is very high. It’s one of the oldest protocols in use. Every device connected to internet network should use this protocol.

Ordinary devices like personal computers, laptops, routers, etc. are not designed with the purpose of time calibration/computation There’s a lack of accuracy within time computing by them. Therefore, we have to synchronize the time from time servers on regular basis.


NTP Layout

The hierarchical layout of NTP function is not what I want to explain here. I’d like to focus on the first level, the highest one, which is called “Stratum 0”. The Stratum 0 time source is the most accurate one, which is made from atomic, GPS or even radio clocks. These devices use the most accurate way to compute time.


NTP Pools

As a client, you often hit an address similar to This address corresponds to a pool of servers which are designed and configured for time synchronization. This makes more reliable system, easier usage and the most precise and accurate synchronization.


NTP Importance

Why is NTP and time synchronization important? There’s a very simple answer. Many other services depend on this protocol. For example, with Active directory, problems often happen when time is not correctly synced and the difference between when a client was trying to log in to the domain and domain server is more than acceptable. He won’t be able to log in, synchronization of files can fail and so on. Also, systems as is can fail in many processes like logging. You can even reach filesystem inconsistency or worse, you could deal with security breaches.


The main purpose of this short post is not to educate much about NTP, but inform you about importance of little things in network environments we have to deal with. As every higher resource on networks or even system administration depends on these old and basic protocols, we must have a look at them and understand their basics.

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  1. good article

  2. Really good définition and explicit made easy To Understand post. Thanks for your hard work.

  3. Nice. maybe I would add the importance of adding a secondary NTP server in high traffic network or servers if they are used for more than only authentication, as there are chances that the client’s are not served and will require them to try again, causing unnecessary traffic.

  4. Many other services depends on this protocol. For example Active directory. Often problems happen when time is not correctly synced and difference between client trying to log in to domain and domain server is more than acceptable, he won’t be able to log in, synchronisation of files can fail and so on.

    Practically experienced the above when reading up for and practising on Windows Server.

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