How to Fix Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing?

The ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error most commonly occurs when Windows users try to sync their time automatically by attempting to use the Windows menu to connect with an NTP server. In most documented cases, the error message will appear with time.windows.com, time.nist.gov, and every other NTP server.

‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ time issue

What’s causing the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ issue?

  • Windows Time server is stuck in a limbo state – One popular reason that will trigger this error is a Time server stuck in a state between open and closed (commonly referred to as ‘limbo state). If this scenario is applicable, you can fix the issue by using the Service screen to change the Startup Status to Automatic and restart the service.
  • The time server is unavailable – Another popular cause that might spawn this issue is a situation where the time server that you attempt to contact is unavailable due to a scheduled maintenance or an unexpected outage period. In this case, you can circumvent the issue by using a different server.
  • W32 is not registered – If W32Time is not registered with your Windows installation, it’s probably why you’re getting this particular error message. In this case, you can fix the issue easily with a collection of commands that are capable of stopping the service, unregistering it and registering it again.
  • Router/modem inconsistency –  Although the frequency is rare, your router or modem can also be responsible for the apparition of this particular issue. If this scenario is applicable, you can fix the issue by rebooting or resetting the network in question.
  • 3rd party firewall interference – An overprotective 3rd party firewall can also be responsible for this error message. A false positive might determine it to stop communications between your computer and the time server. In this case, you can fix the issue by uninstalling the 3rd party suite that’s causing the problem.
  • Faulty CMOS battery – If the issue returns after you fixed it, it’s probably due to the fact that your system is unable to remember the changes between system boots due to a faulty battery. In this case, you can resolve the issue by opening the case and replacing the faulty CMOS battery on your motherboard.
  • Time updating interval is too long – As it turns out, this issue can also occur due to the fact that the default updating interval is insufficient to communicate with the time server. In this case, you can fix the issue by doing some registry adjustments.

How to fix the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ issue?

We have included several methods to address this issue. We suggest that you follow every Method listed below until the issue is resolved.

1. Restart the Windows Time service

As it turns out, the number one reason why this issue will occur is due to the fact that the Windows Time service is not running or becomes stuck into a limbo state. This issue is much more common than you might expect – A lot of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users have been complaining that this service has the habit of failing to sync up even if it’s running properly.

Several affected users that encountered this issue have confirmed that the issue was resolved after they accessed the Services window and changed the status to Automatic or restarting the service, forcing it to reinitialize.

Here’s a quick guide on doing this on a Windows computer:

Note: The steps below should be applicable regardless of the culprit that ends up causing the issue.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘services.msc’ and press Enter to open up the Service screen. If you are prompted by the UAC (User Account Control) prompt, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Type “services.msc” into the Run dialog and press Enter
  2. Once you’re inside the Services screen, move to the right-section and scroll down through the list of services until you locate the Windows Time service. When you see it, right-click on it and choose Properties from the newly appeared context menu.
    Properties screen of Windows Time
  3. Now that you’re inside the Properties menu of Windows Time, select the General tab from the top of the screen and use the drop-down menu associated with the Startup type to change it to Automatic.
    Changing the status of the Time service to Automatic
  4. Next, click on Stop to temporarily stop the service, then click on Start to restart the Windows Start service.
  5. Click Apply to save the changes, then repeat the operation and see if the problem has been resolved.

In case you’re still encountering the same ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ issue, move down to the next method below.

2. Use a different server

If the issue only started to occur recently, it’s also possible that you’re encountering this issue due to the fact that the time server that you’re currently trying to access is inaccessible due to an unexpected issue or due to a scheduled maintenance period.

If this scenario is applicable, you can fix the issue by accessing the Internet Time settings and hanging the default values so that a different server is used when your computer needs to Syncronize the Internet time.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Inside the text box, type ‘timedate.cpl’ and press Enter to open up the Date and Time server.
    Opening the Date and time window
  2. Once you’re inside the correct window, select the Internet Time from the horizontal menu at the top, then click on the Change Settings button below. When you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Changing the Time server settings
  3. Inside the Internet Time Settings window, start by checking the box associated with Synchronize with an Internet time server. Next, expand the drop-down menu associated with Server and set it to time.nist.gov.
    Changing the time server

    Note: If the time server was already failing with time.nist.gov, set it to time.windows.com.

  4. Click on Update Now to attempt to synchronize the Internet time server once again.
  5. See if the process manages to complete without the same error message.

In case the same error ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error message is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

3. Re-register W32Time via CMD

Another fix that might potentially help you in fixing the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error message is to use an elevated CMD prompt to re-register the W32Time service.

Several affected users that have encountered this issue before have confirmed that a series of commands finally allowed them to force the time server to update automatically. But keep in mind that before you can re-register the time service, you will need to disable it first. Luckily, you can do the entire process from a single elevated CMD.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘cmd’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated CMD window. When you see the User Account Control (UAC) window, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Running the Command Prompt
  2. Once  you’re inside the elevated terminal prompt, type the following commands in order and press Enter after each one to stop the time service, re-register w32time service and force the service to update itself:
    net stop w32time 
    w32tm /unregister
     w32tm /register 
    net start w32time 
    w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:pool.ntp.org /syncfromflags:manual /update
  3. In case you get the following success message, it means that every command has been successfully processed:
    C:\Documents and Settings\user>net stop w32time
    The Windows Time service is stopping. The Windows Time service was stopped successfully.
    C:\Documents and Settings\user>w32tm /unregister
    W32Time successfully registered.
    C:\Documents and Settings\user>w32tm /register
    W32Time successfully registered.
    C:\Documents and Settings\user>net start w32time
    The Windows Time service is starting. The Windows Time service was started successfully.
    C:\Documents and Settings\user>w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:pool.ntp.org /update
    The command completed successfully.
  4. If the operation is completed successfully, restart your machine and see if the issue is resolved at the next system startup.

In case the same ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ problem is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

4. Restart your Router/Modem

As it turns out, another common problem that might be responsible for the apparition of the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error is router/modem stuck in a limbo state. Whenever this happens, chances are the time server cannot be reached, so this error will be thrown as a result.

If this scenario is applicable, the easiest way to get the issue resolved is to force your network to refresh.

To ensure that you start by the less-intrusive approach and you don’t make any long-lasting changes to your network credentials, you should start by performing a router reboot. To do this, simply press the dedicated button (if possible), or press the ON  / OFF button twice to initiate a network reboot.  Alternatively, you can simply physically disconnect the power cable from the power outlet, forcing the network to restart.

Restarting your router/modem

If that doesn’t work, you should move forward by trying to do a complete modem or router reset. But keep in mind that this operation might also reset the custom login credentials of your router address. Even more, any other network adjustments that you previously made might also be lost.

Note: With most router manufacturers, the login credentials for your router will be reverted back to admin (for both username and password.

To perform a router/modem reset, simply press the reset button and keep it pressed for at least 10 seconds or until you see all the front LED flashing at the same time.  That’s how you know that the reset procedure was completed.

Note: Keep in mind that with some models, the reset button is inaccessible without a sharp object like a needle, toothpick or a similar object.

If you already did this and you’re still encountering the same ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error, move down to the next potential fix below.

5. Disable 3rd party firewall

As it turns out, another responsible culprit that might be responsible for the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error is an overprotective firewall suite. In some documented cases, this error appeared due to the fact that the 3rd party firewall was interrupting the connection between the time server and the end-user computer due to a false positive.

If this scenario is applicable, you can fix the issue easily by uninstalling the firewall that is causing the issue and reverting back to the default firewall (Windows Firewall).

Note: Keep in mind that simply disabling the real-time protection of your AV will not resolve the issue. It’s likely that the same security rules will remain in place despite the modification.

Here’s a quick guide on making sure that the external firewall no longer ends up creating the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features window.
    Type appwiz.cpl and Press Enter to Open Installed Programs List
  2. Once you’re inside the Programs and Features screen, scroll down through the list of installed applications and locate the 3rd party firewall that you’re using. When you see it, right-click on it and choose Uninstall from the next context menu.
    Uninstalling the 3rd-party firewall
  3. Once you see the uninstallation window, follow the on-screen prompts to complete the process of uninstalling the 3rd party firewall.
  4. Restart your computer and see if the problem is fixed at the next computer startup.

In case you’re still seeing the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error, move down to the next potential fix below.

6. Replace CMOS Battery

If this issue is recurring, meaning you fix the issue but the problem returns swiftly the next time you start your computer, chances are the issue is being caused by a faulty CMOS battery. This is a critical motherboard component that’s typically a CR2032 button cell.

The CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) battery (also known as RTC or NVRAM) is responsible for storing information ranging from time and date to system hardware settings. If your computer is unable to maintain the date & time between startups, it’s typically because of this component.

In case you suspect that you might be dealing with a faulty CMOS battery, you can fix the issue by clearing it once or replacing it altogether. Here’s a quick guide on doing this:

  1. Turn off your computer and ensure that it’s no longer plugged into a power outlet.
  2. Next, remove the side cover and equip your main hand with a static wristband if you have one at the ready.
    Note: A Static wristband will make sure that you are grounded to the frame and static electricity doesn’t end up producing damage to your PC components.
  3. Look at your motherboard and identify the CMOS battery. Once you see it, use your fingernail or a non-conductive screwdriver to remove it from its slot.
    Removing the CMOS battery

    Note: If you have a spare battery around, replace the current one to ensure that you don’t encounter this issue again. Else, clean it thoroughly (and the slow) to ensure that there aren’t any connectivity issues.

  4. Wait for a couple of minutes before putting them back case back and powering your computer again. At the next startup, return to the Date & Time window and attempt to update again, then restart again and see if the change is preserved.

If the same ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error is still happening, move to the final method below.

7. Adjust the updating interval

In some rare circumstances, you might encounter this particular issue due to the fact that a registry key is preventing date & time from refreshing at regular intervals. In case this scenario is applicable, it’s possible that the time.windows.com, time.nist.gov and any other NTP server might trigger the ‘Error Occurred While Windows was Synchronizing’ error due to the fact that it’s not unable to update the value again.

In this case, you should be able to fix the issue by changing the update interval to the next compatible value. Here’s a quick guide on doing this from using Registry Editor:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘regedit’ and press Enter to open up the Registry Editor. When prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Running the Registry Editor
  2. Once you’re inside the Registry Editor, use the left-hand section to navigate to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\NtpClient

    Note: You can also paste the exact location directly into the navigation bar to get there instantly.

  3. Once you’re in the correct location,  move down to the right-section and double-click on SpecialPoolInterval.
  4. Then, set the Base section to Decimal, then modify the default Value to 86400.
    Adjusting the Value data of SpecialPoolInterval

    Note: Changing the Value to 86400 ensures that the date and time will get updated after each day.

  5. Close Registry Editor and restart your computer to allow the modifications to take effect.
Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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