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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting the Motherboard and System Devices | CMOS Memory or Real-Time Clock ]

The system clock is losing time or not keeping time accurately

Explanation: The system clock is not accurate; it loses a number of minutes each day, or stops incrementing the time when the system is turned off.

Diagnosis: The most common cause of this problem is the CMOS battery, which also backs up the date and time so it isn't lost when the machine is turned off. A weak CMOS battery can lead to problems with the real-time clock even if the battery isn't weak enough to cause the loss of BIOS settings. Some motherboards apparently disable the clock as a power-saving measure when the battery voltage gets low. Of course, sometimes the problem with the clock is simply that it is inaccurate. As motherboards get cheaper and cheaper in both price and construction, the quality of some of these components gets very questionable.

Recommendation:

  • Troubleshoot the battery to make sure that it is not causing the problem.
  • Troubleshoot the motherboard to ensure that some other strange situation is not causing the problem.
  • If the battery is not at fault, and you cannot find any problem with the motherboard, your remaining solutions are to replace the motherboard or to use software methods to compensate for the clock. There are utilities that will resynchronize the system clock with Internet time servers, and others that allow you to program them to adjust the system clock forward or backward a number of minutes each day, to keep the clock roughly accurate.

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