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Issue #846: October 8-14, 2023

Q: My computer had a problem where it did not know the correct time nor did it know its correct location. It displayed west coast time and Stanton California as its location. I focused on the incorrect time using, “the google” to find a solution. I was directed to msc services-windows time-properties-startup type. I set this to “automatic”, hit apply, then ok, then restarted my computer. Problem solved! Time (and location!) are now correct. Is this a proper fix or did I only mask the problem?

– Dave G.
Destin, Florida

A: Honestly, Dave, it took me some serious cogitating to figure out exactly what you are describing that you did on your computer.  But in order to have even a hope of answering your ultimate question of whether what you did is a “proper fix” I needed at least a vague understanding, so I threw myself into it.  Here’s what I did, what I discovered, and ultimately, the answer to your question.

So first, I’ve never heard of “msc services-windows time-properties startup type,” although there are a few familiar elements within that phrase.  Specifically, “msc” which is the file extension for snap-in controls usually associated with the Microsoft Management Console, and “services” which are programs that run in the background of Windows that have very specific tasks to accomplish.  Depending on whether you want any given service, it can be set to automatically run at startup (another key word in the phrase you used).  Putting it together, there is a Windows snap-in to display the status of all known Services.  Conveniently, it’s named “Services.msc.”  I needed to launch it in order to go any further.

I started by using the key combination [WinKey]+R to bring up the Run… box.  Then I typed “Services.msc” into it, and clicked Ok.  The Services snap-in appeared, populated with the aforementioned list of Services.  On a hunch, I scrolled down and found yet another part of your phrase: “Windows Time.” Ah-ha!  This was starting to make sense now.

First, you should know that this service was not and is still not enabled on my computer.  This is largely because of its description.  According to Windows, it: “Maintains date and time synchronization on all clients and servers on the network.  If this service is stopped, date and time synchronization will be unavailable. If this service is disabled, any services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start.”  While a casual read of this might make it sound like what you’re looking for, this service is not for setting the time on a single PC (even it that’s what it seems to have done for you).  Rather, this service is designed to be used within a network of devices to keep them all synchronized with each other.  My computer doesn’t need that functionality, and I’m betting neither does yours.  With all that said, I would have to say that your solution was not the “proper fix” you were looking for.

Here’s the way I would have suggested fixing your time issue.  Start by putting your cursor over the clock in the lower right corner of your screen.  Right-click, and from the menu that appears, select Adjust date and time.  The Windows Settings box appears, with the screen set to Time & language > Date & time.  Note the many switches to automate everything having to do with setting the date and time, including automatically adjusting the start and end of daylight-saving time. You can force a manual synchronization at any time by pressing the Sync Now button.

Unlike the service we discussed above, these synchronization controls, both automated and manual, do not synchronize with other devices on your network, but rather with a time server on the Internet, most likely  So, once things are properly configured, as long as your computer has a connection to the Internet, the time will stay set.  Even if you lose your connection, the computer’s internal clock hardware will keep the time reasonably accurate until the next time it’s connected and can perform a sync. 

By the way, the time and location data in your description sound a lot like system default values.  If your computer has been around for a little while, a dead or dying BIOS battery can cause such a condition.

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