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Will the Time Change Be the New Y2K?

Ready your computer system for extended daylight-saving time.

Imagine being an hour late for all your appointments one day. Now imagine that happening to all your computing equipment. That day will be March 11, 2007, unless you take some straightforward steps to prevent it.

Starting in March 2007, daylight-saving time will begin on the second Sunday of March and end on the first Sunday of November--lasting four weeks longer than the current regimen. If your computer systems don't make that transition quickly, reports may not run at the right time, transactions may get the wrong time stamps and backup systems may get confused.

The good news is that computer time is typically managed by the OS and is usually a relatively simple fix. "All OS vendors will have software updates available to their users long before the spring 2007 change," predicts Randall Palm, chief technology and information security director for the Computing Technology Industry Association. Though if your vendor no longer supports your software, such as pre-XP versions of Windows, you'll need to manually change the clocks on your desktops and servers.

The situation may be further complicated by applications that run their own clocks, notes Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupitermedia Corp. "Some applications update their system clocks from elsewhere, checking with different time services around the world," he says.

"The trickiest applications will be those with high error consequences, such as financial and transportation applications," says Palm. Experts suggest you review your critical applications and stay in touch with vendors about any action you'll need to take. In some cases, you may want to call in consultants.

In general, says Gartenberg, "review what electronic devices have a clock and what functionality is dependent on that clock."

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