Google’s public NTP servers?
I was struggling with finding a good set of low-ping NTP servers for use as upstream sources in the office. Using
pool.ntp.org is great and all, but the rotating DNS entries aren’t fabulous for Windows NTP clients (or really any NTP software except the reference
ntpd resolves a server hostname to an IP once at startup, and then sticks with that IP forever. Most other NTP clients honor DNS TTLs, and will follow the rotation of addresses returned by
pool.ntp.org. This means Windows NTP client using the built-in Windows Time Service will actually be trying to sync to a moving set of target servers when pointed at a
pool.ntp.org source. Fine for most client, but not great for servers trying to maintain stable timing for security and logging purposes.
I stumbled across this link referencing Google’s ntp servers at hostname
time[1-4].google.com. These servers support IPv4 and IPv6, and seem to be anycast just like Google’s public DNS servers at 220.127.116.11.
time4.google.com is only few milliseconds away from some widely dispersed servers to which I have access. Indeed, plugging
time4.google.com into CA’s global ping tool shows that they are clearly “close” in terms of latency to multiple locations globally, which is only possible with anycast routing.
Are these servers truly public like Google Public DNS? They’re not publicized by Google, but they seem to work pretty well as an alternative to
pool.ntp.org for systems that run NTP software other than