A laptop on showing a full-screen digital clock.

How to configure multiple NTP servers on Windows

Though it may appear as Windows will only let you configure one internet time-server, it does support synchronizing with multiple time-servers for increased accuracy and reliability. Here is how you set it up.

Your Windows PC isn’t all that good at keeping time, and over time it will slowly drift away from what every other computer considers to be the correct time. To compensate for our computers’ inability to tell time accurately, we rely on internet time-servers to correct and update the correct time.

There are plenty of Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers around the world available for free. By default, Windows will only connect to a single time-server operated by Microsoft. Although, your network router may auto-configure other network servers on your behalf.

When is it useful or necessary to configure multiple NTP servers

Configuring multiple time-servers will increase the reliability and accuracy of your PC’s timekeeping abilities. On unreliable and slow networks, it can be especially useful to configure more than one time-server to improve accuracy.

Some managed networks, like a corporate network, may block connections to public time-servers — like the ones operated by Microsoft — and only allow the use of their own internal time-servers. Ask your network administrator for details if you’re having trouble.

However, this internal server is unlikely to be available if you bring your device home or onto any other network. Ideally, you would want to keep using a public time-server and only add the corporate time-server as an additional time source.

How to add multiple NTP servers in Windows

Neither the Windows Settings app nor the Control Panel will let you configure multiple time-servers in Windows. You’ll need to execute some commands in the Command Prompt to get this set up. I’ll walk you through the whole process:

  1. Open an administrative Command Prompt by searching for “cmd” in the Start menu, right-clicking on the program, and choosing “Run as administrator”.
  2. Ensure that the time service is currently running by stopping and starting it by entering following command and pressing Enter:
    net stop w32time & net start w32time
  3. Configure your list of preferred time-servers by listing their IP or DNS addresses within the quotation marks in the following command; separating multiple servers with spaces:
    w32tm /config /update /manualpeerlist:"pool.ntp.org time.windows.com time.apple.com time.cloudflare.com"

The above example configures Windows to use time-servers operated by the NTP Pool Project, Microsoft, Apple, and Cloudflare. Note that there shouldn’t be any line breaks in the command; it’s all on one line.

  1. Lastly, we’ll tell Windows to resynchronize its time against the newly configured time-servers and finally show the new configuration to confirm that everything is working:
    w32tm /resync
    w32tm /query /peers

Note that these changes won’t show up if you go to inspect your internet time configuration in the Time and Date section of the Control Panel. You shouldn’t make any changes there to avoid overwriting your manual configuration.

You can use the peers-querying command, as shown in step 4 above to inspect your configuration. You can also overwrite your setup with different time-servers by updating your configuration again as shown in step two.

You may find references online to changes you can make in the System Registry (regedit) to accomplish the same thing, but those changes are Windows-version dependent and won’t stick when you upgrade your system from one release version to the next.

The instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (and corresponding releases of Windows Server). Check out the MacOS version of this tutorial for your Macs!