Windows Time service doesn't start automatically on a workgroup computer that's running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2

Symptoms

On a workgroup computer that's running Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, or a later version of Windows, the Windows Time service stops immediately after system startup. This issue occurs even after the Startup Type is changed from Manual to Automatic. Additionally, the following event is logged in the System log:

Cause

This issue occurs because the Windows Time service is configured as the Trigger-Start service. and this has been implemented as the default setting in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Services and background processes have a significant effect on the performance of the system. The Trigger-Start service has been implemented in Windows 7 and Windows Service 2008 R2 in order to reduce the total number of auto-start services on the system. The goal is to improve the stability of the whole system, and this includes improving performance and reducing power consumption. Under this implementation, the Service Control Manager has been enhanced to handle starting and stopping services by using specific system events.

For more information, see Service trigger events.

Whether or not the Windows Time service starts automatically depends on whether the computer is joined to an Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domain environment or is configured as a workgroup computer. The Windows Time service on domain-joined computers starts when a trigger event occurs. On workgroup computers that are not joined to an AD DS domain, the startup value for the Windows Time service is Manual, and the service status is Stopped.

You can check the Trigger-Start service settings by running the following sc qtriggerinfo command:

sc qtriggerinfo w32time

Service Name: w32time

Start Service
DOMAIN JOINED STATUS : 1ce20aba-9851-4421-9430-1ddeb766e809 [DOMAIN JOINED]

Stop Service
DOMAIN JOINED STATUS : ddaf516e-58c2-4866-9574-c3b615d42ea1 [NOT DOMAIN JOINED]

Workaround

To start the Windows Time service at system startup, use any of the following methods.

Method 1

Run the following command to delete the trigger event that's registered as the default setting and to change the Startup Type setting for the Windows Time service from Manual to Automatic:

sc triggerinfo w32time delete

Method 2

Run the following command to define a trigger event that suits your environment. In this example, the command determines whether an IP address is given to a host, and then it starts or stops the service.

sc triggerinfo w32time start/networkon stop/networkoff

Method 3

Change the Startup Type of the Windows Time service from Manual to Automatic (Delayed Start).

Note If the Startup Type of the Windows Time service is set to Automatic (Delayed Start), the Windows Time service may be started by the "Time Synchronization before the Service Control Manager starts the Windows Time service" task. (This depends on the startup timing of the Windows operating system in question.)

In this situation, the service triggers an automatic stop after the success of the Time Synchronization task. Therefore, if you use Method 3, you must disable the "Time Synchronization to avoid the task to start the Windows Time service" task. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Start the Task Scheduler.
  2. Under Task Scheduler Library / Microsoft / Windows / Time Synchronization, click Synchronize Time.
  3. Right-click, and then click Disabled on the shortcut menu.

More Information

The Windows Time service on a workgroup computer is not started automatically at system startup by the Trigger-Start service. However, the Windows Time service is started by the Time Synchronization setting that's registered on the Task Scheduler Library at 01:00 a.m. every Sunday for Time Synchronization. Therefore, the default setting can be kept as is.
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Article ID: 2385818 - Last Review: Feb 16, 2015 - Revision: 1

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