There are many network protocols that are used to allow our computers to connect to the Internet and to receive and transmit signals. There are many factors that are necessary for our daily browsing. In this article we are going to talk about what NTP is and why it is important for our connections. We are going to see the main aspects to take into account if we come across this term and want to see what it really works for.
What is the NTP protocol
NTP stands for Network Time Protocol . In Spanish we can translate it as Network Time Protocol. Its main function is to synchronize the clocks of computer systems. To do this, it uses packet routing in networks with variable latency. We are facing one of the oldest network protocols and it is still important to maintain the correct functioning of the connections.
As a transport layer, it uses UDP through port 123. It emerged in 1981 and is currently in version 4, which is the one used by the equipment. We can say that most operating systems that are based on Linux and Windows use this protocol as a control system.
The NTP protocol will serve to launch a synchronization request. First, a message is sent by the client and checks whether the time lag between the server and the requestor exceeds 17 minutes. Later that message reaches the destination server. If it actually exceeds 17 minutes, the process would stop and not continue. This means that it would end out of sync.
Now, if that time is less than 17 minutes (or what is the same, 1024 seconds), that synchronization would continue. The server will also send an additional message indicating the time. That package is received by the customer and an adjustment begins. Approximately 128ms every minute.
In order for NTP to work correctly it uses a reference clock . This allows it to act as a fixed point for all the synchronization processes that take place. This causes all the clocks to be synchronized taking that primary clock as a reference.
This we mentioned makes it really accurate. You are going to select the best possible font. In addition, it relies on information that it has stored to solve possible temporary connection problems.
Why is the NTP protocol important?
The NTP protocol is important for time synchronization and preventing possible differences from causing problems. This could make the job of network administrators difficult. It will be used to synchronize the clock in a TCP / IP network between the hosts, which makes it very important for the exchange of information between systems.
The precision is maximum, since we are talking about nanoseconds. It also has different indicators in order to specify the precision.
The version 4 is the latest, as mentioned above. It came to improve some aspects of the previous one, with the aim of being more precise and solving certain problems that may arise. An important change is that it allows IPv6 addressing between servers and clients. It also adds new layers of security through packet encryption. We already know that maintaining security on the network is very important and we must always opt for services and platforms that have everything necessary to be protected.
Another improvement that came with version 4 is reducing the size of the package and thus increasing the range of available values.
Runs in the background
It should be noted that the NTP protocol runs in the background on our system. We have indicated that it is present in both Windows and Linux-based operating systems. They are two of the most important and have the most users globally.
It is therefore one of the many processes that are constantly running on our systems. It is responsible for verifying packet exchanges and time, to avoid problems that may affect connections.
Let’s take as an example that a computer requests the time from another device. However, they are going to communicate through a medium that is very saturated. This could lead to the fact that, once the response arrives with that requested time, a long time has passed and a significant mismatch occurs.
This that we mentioned would cause that they never get to be synchronized. That is where the NTP protocol comes into play, to avoid just this and make everything work correctly, without errors of any kind.
Very useful for the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is how the devices that we have connected to the network in our homes are known. Here we can mention televisions, smart bulbs, surveillance camera systems, video players … It is a reality that we have more and more connected devices. This is also going to pose some difficulties.
Let’s say we have a surveillance system at home. They are going to be different cameras connected to each other. For the time to be the same, for the records to be synchronized, it is necessary to have a protocol capable of achieving this. This is the function of NTP.
Therefore, we can say that the NTP protocol is very useful for the Internet of Things. You will avoid major problems in time synchronization , something that could lead to a malfunction of those equipment. All of them are going to need to be connected to the network in some way and communicate with each other. Such a mismatch can lead to major failures.
In short, the NTP protocol is essential for the proper functioning of the equipment connected to the network. It will be used to synchronize the servers and clients. This will avoid a mismatch in time that leads to problems when configuring or using these types of devices. We have seen that especially for IoT devices it will be something fundamental.