Synchronizing time

Having your computer keep correct time and date

Having your computer keep correct time and date is more important than some people realize.  Even if all you do is use it to send email, having an incorrect date can affect you.

With email sent from your computer, the date and time stamp that the email gets comes from your computer.  If the date or even the time is off by much, it can impact the delivery of your message.  Many anti-spam filters check the date that an email was sent, and if it is date stamped more than a few days in the past, the anti-spam software will filter it out.  Many times if it is date stamped in the future, it will be filtered out as well.  So if your computer date is off, it can cause your emails to not be delivered.  You will not get an error back, they will just not show up in the person’s mailbox.

With other applications, having the correct date and time is more important.  If you are running a point-of-sale system, for example, the date and time for a sale ticket are usually taken from the computer that the ticket was created on.

This happened to one of our customers a while back.  One of their employees had apparently opened the calendar on the point-of-sale workstation, to check when July 4 was.  They ended up setting the date to July 2, when it was actually the end of June.  From then on, the tickets that they did were dated a few days in the future.  When management checked the daily sales, the store was missing sales on the day that the date was changed.  The next day, it was missing all of its sales.

The data with the incorrect dates had to be corrected, and the date reset on the computer.  Fortunately, this had not impacted settling of their credit cards.  It easily could have, if the card processor had refused to settle them because of the incorrect date.

Fortunately, it is possible to have your computer set to always have the correct time.  There are several atomic clocks that are available via the Internet, and your computer can be set to synchronize with them.

At CCS Retail Systems, we have a couple of servers that synchronize to the atomic clocks.  The rest of our systems then synchronize to these servers.  The software that does the synchronization is intelligent enough to take into account the latency in communicating with the time servers. So, our computers are always within a few milliseconds of the actual time.

If you would like help implementing a system like ours, contact CCS Support.

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