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Date error on SBS network

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  • Date error on SBS network

    I recently had an issue on a SBS 2003 network that caused a big headache for me and the customer and i cannot find out the cause.

    The DC is an HP ML350G5, SBS 2003 sp2, all service packs applied. All clients running XP Pro sp3. Router is a Draytek 2820 configured to allow remote access only. Email is using the Exchange POP connector.

    Last week the date on the DC and all client pc's rolled back 20 days. This was not done manually and there is nothing in any of the event logs to suggest what did this. All machines are getting their time from

    We had an issue with the ISP as the ADSL connection was very sporadic. There were times when it was working normally and all sites could be accessed and then it would just drop out. TRACERT would get out of the router and time out around hop 5-10 when it was not working. Navigation to websites using IP address was sometimes successful but not always so i ruled out a DNS issue. I by-passed the network and went straight through the router with a laptop and still had the same issue. I changed the router and still had the same issue which led me to believe it was an ISP issue. This was raised with the ISP and finally corrected.

    It was during this time all of the machines had their date changed!

    Could this have been caused by a cached page that was 20 days old? If the ISP were using an ISA type service to patch over any service outage could this have caused the issue?

    The date has now been changed on all machines and it is all working fine. I have scanned for viruses and malware and it is all ok (Using Eset NOD32).

    The key purpose of the network is to run the retail side of the business. The software used takes a time stamp from the local machine when printing reciepts and producing reports. I am trying to find possible causes so i can look at a way to stop this happening in the future. I have scanned through various searches on goolge and come up with nothing. Anybody got any ideas?

  • #2
    Re: Date error on SBS network

    I would focus on the DC as that's where all the clients get their time from. I wouldn't think it was an ISP issue as the time service uses the NTP protocol and not HTTP. I don't see how an ISP problem could cause the DC to get the wrong time and as far as I'm aware there is no caching of the time data. Have you looked at the hardware clock on the DC? Is there anything at the hardware layer that "phones home" and gets the time from HP? I know you said that all SP's and patches are current but have you verified that all systems have the appropriate DST patch from MS? Are there DST settings on any other device (router, etc.) that need to be looked at? Are there any time service related events in any of the event logs?


    • #3
      Re: Date error on SBS network

      Thanks for the super quick reply!

      I will need to have a look on all of the client machines to confirm the DST patch but the server is all ok.

      There is nothing out of place in the HP managment software and nothing that i can see trying to "Phone Home".

      It seems strange that only the date was changed. The time did not get changed at all.

      There is nothing in the event log at the time of the incident. There is however a series of W32time events saying that no valid response has been received from the configured time server. These all tie in with the ISP issue.


      • #4
        Re: Date error on SBS network

        I'd suggest using a server other than - Google it and you'll see there have been numerous cases of lengthy downtime.
        Gareth Howells

        BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

        Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

        Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

        "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

        "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (Genesis 9:3) - For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.


        • #5
          Re: Date error on SBS network

          For sure the events logged about not getting a reply from the time server ( are related to the ISP problem, but I'm at a loss to see how that would cause the date to go back 20 days.

          I would look at the hardware clock on the DC and see if it's correct. Also, often times a faulty CMOS battery will cause the hardware clock to be wrong.

          Did you power down or reboot the DC during the period of time that you were having ISP issues? If so, that would strongly point to the hardware clock on the DC as the problem.


          • #6
            Re: Date error on SBS network

            I am currently rolling out a new GPO to sync with the NTP at manchester university. I have many servers getting the time and date from this resource with no issues at all.

            Once i manually changed the date back on the server it was re-booted a few hours later out of working hours. It retained the correct time and date. I then powered down the server, unplugged the power cable for 5 minutes and powered back up. It still had the correct time. I was thinking it could be the CMOS battery. Normally a flat CMOS battery changes date and time by bigger jumps than 20 days.

            It might be worth changing the CMOS just to eliminate it as a cause but i am confident it is OK.


            • #7
              Re: Date error on SBS network

              It's strange for sure. There are only two ways for a system to get it's time: from the hardware clock or from an external time source.

              Anything on the HP web site?

              Is the DC virtualized by any chance?

              Is the date correct on the router?


              • #8
                Re: Date error on SBS network

                I think i'll spend some time going through the HP site but nothing came up on google.

                The date and time is correct on the router. I read that comment and thought we had hit the jackpot and had to dial in and check! It is using a different time source to sync its clock but it is correct.

                The SBS server is also running Virtual Server 2005 with an XP pro virtual machine running. This was the easiest way to let one of the partners log onto the system without having to have his PC turned on all the time. The SBS2003 is the physical host.

                I might turn my focus to the software vendor as this is the only avenue not fully explored. A rougue batch file possibly?


                • #9
                  Re: Date error on SBS network

                  IDK. I'm stumped at this point. If I have any other ideas I'll post back here. Keep us posted on anything you find as well.


                  • #10
                    Re: Date error on SBS network

                    Thanks for your help on this. much appreciated.

                    I'll post back when i finally get to the bottom of this.