Syncing Time on Windows & GNU/Linux Dual Boot Setups

Feb 01, 2018

This post is going to be one of those that I have written for my reference. Whatever I am going to mention in this post is not new. Everything has already been said and written many times on many websites and Linux forums.

So I will start by explaining the problem. When you try to dual boot your machine to run both GNU/Linux and Windows operating systems, you might have noticed that the time is not the same in both the operating systems. It is generally one operating system showing the correct time, and the other one showing the wrong time. It happens because Microsoft Windows thinks that the hardware clock (CMOS clock or BIOS clock) of the machine is using the local time (depends on your current time zone), and hence it doesn't do anything and shows you the same time. But most GNU/Linux operating systems (Ubuntu, Arch Linux, etc.) think that the hardware clock is set to track UTC. Hence the mismatch in the time happens. For example, assume that the current real-time is 10:22:51, and the hardware clock time is set to 10:22:51. Windows will interpret this time as local time and show 10:22:51, but Linux based systems will show 15:52:51 because they will understand this time as UTC. Of course, the above example is true if we assume time zone as India, which is +05:30 from UTC.

This issue can be fixed either from Windows or from GNU/Linux OS. I prefer to adjust the behavior of Windows to use UTC. It is much more convenient to use when traveling between different time zones. Please note that this method might not work or cause instability with older versions of Windows OS. I have tried this fix on Windows 10, and it works without any issues.

Open an Administrator Command Prompt by pressing ⊞ + x⊞ + x, then type aa. This method of opening the Administrator Command Prompt does not work on Windows 7.

Now execute the following command:

reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\TimeZoneInformation" /v RealTimeIsUniversal /d 1 /t REG_DWORD /f
reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\TimeZoneInformation" /v RealTimeIsUniversal /d 1 /t REG_DWORD /f

Windows Time Service, which keeps the clock in Windows OS accurate, will still write the local time to the Real-time clock (RTC) regardless of the registry settings on shutdown. So I prefer to disable the Windows Time Service.

sc config w32time start= disabled
sc config w32time start= disabled

Now you may need to change the time in your BIOS to UTC time, although that depends on whether your Windows OS was showing the correct time before applying the above modifications. If yes, then changing BIOS time to UTC will make sure that both Windows and GNU/Linux convert hardware clock to local time.


  1. Multiple Boot Systems Time Conflicts
  2. UTC in Windows