Syncing Time on VPS Server: How to Calculate the Timestamps on Unix

How to Calculate the Timestamps on Unix

One of the main aspects of maintaining a server is to manage time. For businesses that have a set scheduled date for all their activities or small developers who have deadlines to meet, managing time is of utmost importance. This is when the Unix timestamp comes into play.

Many of our users may not be familiar with what a Unix timestamp is. To make sure all our users are properly informed of critical knowledge, we have given a detailed description of the Unix timestamp and why it holds such significance for your servers:

Unix timestamp

In 1969, at the advent of the technological revolution, Unix engineers realized the dire need for a clock that could calculate coordinated universal time. For this purpose, they used programming languages for calculating all milliseconds that passed from a particular point on. Now the problem was to decide when to start the timer.

All the engineers involved in the project unanimously agreed that on the date of 1st of January, 1970, the Unix time would start counting. The Unix epoch precisely started at '1970 01 01t00 00' in Unix time format. If we convert it into a simple date format then January 1, 1970, at 00:00:00 was when the value of the Unix timestamp was 0 including the fractional part.

Having your date and time represented in the form of random binary digits like '1970 01 01t00 00' can be a hassle, that is why software exists to convert Unix time into human-readable date and time.


Now that you know the historical significance of the Unix timestamps, you might be thinking about what the actual function of the timestamp would be. To put things into perspective, before the Unix timestamps, every operating system had its own way of representing time and date.

This might not seem like a big issue but on the grander scale of things in which data had to be shared across multiple different platforms, having a difference in date and time values, and date and time functions created major problems.

To combat these problems, the Unix timestamp was introduced which as an example calculated all hours, seconds elapsed, milliseconds, microseconds, and even nanoseconds. These calculations are being performed to this day as the timer continues to track time and date. However, the Unix timestamp is currently not counting leap seconds since the Unix time follows the epoch time of leap years.

The Unix Problem

Since the Unix timestamp was started in the 1970s when modern technology was only beginning to revolutionize itself, the Unix time was only accustomed to handling 32-bit integer numbers format. This meant when the timer would reach 2,147,483,647 seconds, the timer would reset back to 1901.

The reset was scheduled to happen on the date of 19th January, 2038. This wasn't an ideal situation considering many of our vintage software worked only with the 32-bit numbers format. Fortunately, we were able to convert the software to handle 64-bit integers which led to the problem being solved.

How to calculate Unix timestamps

Calculating a Unix timestamp involves determining the number of seconds that have passed between a specific date and time and the Unix epoch (January 1, 1970, at 00:00:00 UTC). Here's how you can calculate a Unix timestamp:

Choose Date:

Decide on the date and time you want to calculate the Unix timestamp. It doesn't matter which date you are choosing, for example, it just needs to be a date after 1st January 1970 since midnight UTC is when the timer was started. Make sure to include the year, month, day, hour, minute, and even down to the second. You can ignore leap seconds since the Unix timestamp does not account for them.

Convert to UTC:

Unix timestamps are based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). If the date and time you have chosen are not already in UTC, you need to convert them to UTC. You do not need to consider any time zone offset and daylight saving date and time adjustments since our server will do it all for you.

Calculate Difference:

Find the difference in milliseconds between the chosen date and time and the Unix epoch (January 1, 1970, at 00:00:00 UTC). You can use a programming command or tool to perform this calculation. But what is even better is that our VPS servers already provide you with the facility to convert the Unix time format into a readable date.

Significance of Unix time in VPS Server

After gaining insight from epoch Unix to our current technologically advanced world, there would be one question keeping you wondering. How does the Unix timestamp relate to a VPS Server?

Just as Unix time and date are indefinitely important to all software around the world, it is also of great significance to our server. Like all virtually advanced servers, our VPS hosting server also follows the Unix time format. You can change your epoch time and dates to vary from an hour to some hours depending on your preference.

Due to the coordinated universal time and dates, our system values the Unix time stamps too. By now, we think you understand just how important these Unix timestamps are, but to emphasize their importance, let us look at a few reasons why the Unix timestamp is imperative to the functioning of our server:

  • Keeping Data Consistent:

Consistency is one of the most important factors for the need for Unix time and date functions. All computer systems, servers, and the software they run on, need to be synchronized with one another.

Before the Unix timestamp, various computer systems and programming languages had their own ways of representing a date. This lack of standardization made it difficult to share and manipulate time-related data across different systems.

If a specific type of date and time work for only a single server and vary across platforms then data loses consistency. On the other hand, our current Unix time number allows consistency in data exchange across all servers. Since our server aligns itself to your local timezone automatically, you do not have to worry about inconsistencies in your data.

  • Advanced Efficiency:

The Unix timestamp is currently counting the number of seconds that have passed from 1st January 1970. This Unix time number has allowed us ease of reading time and date. Even though we represent Unix time in the form of numbers such as '01 01t00 00', there is no need for you to be worried. Since the Unix time and date format is harder to understand, our software automatically converts this date and time to human-readable time seconds.

Since the Unix epoch, we have been able to pinpoint a particular date and time without needing to go back in history. It is very easy to calculate a timestamp on Unix or Linux and convert it.

Besides this, it is also much easier to store and parse data in the form of integers which makes handling data more efficient in terms of both memory and storage. Representing time as a single integer simplifies calculations and comparisons involving date and time.

It's much more efficient and easier to perform arithmetic operations on a single numeric value than on various components of date and time.

  • Maintaining Server Events:

Since the current timestamp on the Unix is able to tell you the current date at UTC time, it is easier to maintain your server. Much of the updates and other bug fixes for servers are assigned to specific data in accordance with your local time and dates. These updates can only be properly postponed if the server is tracking the running total of Unix milliseconds.

Servers generate various logs to record events, errors, and activities. These logs often include a timestamp to indicate when each event occurred. The Unix timestamp ensures that event timestamps are consistent across different logs. The time elapsed between each log is also monitored separately to make sure there are no errors to be dealt with.

  • Platform Compatibility:

Linux or Unix timestamps are widely supported across different operating systems and programming languages. Our servers also coordinate your time zone with the UTC time to make sure all systems are compatible with each other. Server compatibility is important for the transfer of data across multiple servers.

Some people have the misconception that if a server is temporarily powered off, it stops counting time but this is simply not true. The physical hardware of any server has an embedded battery due to which the count starts even when the server is powered off.

In this way, the server which follows the Unix time number system, counts hours, seconds, milliseconds, microseconds, and even nanoseconds.

You can also change your timezone on your server if that is what you want. All you need to do is give a command to your server to represent the time of the timezone you prefer and the server will make adjustments accordingly.

  • Scheduling Various Tasks:

Many computer systems and applications need to log events, schedule tasks, and maintain chronological order. The number of seconds passed determines which action needs to be performed next. That is why, the Unix timestamp provides an accurate and standardized way to manage such tasks.

Server maintenance tasks like updates, backups, and cleanups are often also scheduled to occur at specific times. The Unix timestamp is used to schedule these tasks accurately, ensuring they run at the intended times regardless of server location or time zone.

For example, if you have scheduled tasks or jobs that depend on specific times, changing the time zone can affect when these tasks are executed. Make sure to review and adjust any scheduled tasks to match the new time zone.

Many other servers have a problem following two time zones, but our server only follows your local time. This does not create any unnecessary problems for our users went the Unix time is easily converted into a human-readable date and time. This representation took place because the binary code of the timestamps was not easy for non-programmers to parse.


Now that you know and understand everything there is to know about the Unix epoch time format and even how to convert the date and time elapsed into a readable format, you will not have any need to worry. Understanding the relationship between VPS servers and the Unix timestamp is essential for effective server maintenance.

The timestamp may not follow leap seconds but the format is of great importance to not only your server but also the software imbedded in all your applications. By understanding the power of the Unix timestamp, developers can maintain a reliable and efficient VPS environment. This timestamp can be the fuel for your server if you learn to use it properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a VPS Virtual Server?

A virtual server is a protected environment to store your data. We make sure all your data is consistently backed up and protected with the help of the Unix timestamp. At a certain point in every timestamp, there is a task that has been assigned to take place an hour or maybe hours after another task.

It is important to note that the server makes sure all these tasks are being properly executed with the help of the Unix timestamp since even milliseconds count.

Why is time synchronization important on a VPS?

Time synchronization is very important for a server because it ensures that a VPS maintains accurate and consistent dates. The Unix timestamp is also crucial for event tracking, debugging, and scheduling tasks across different applications and services.

Since the start of the epoch time, this Unix timestamp has counted the number of seconds that have elapsed to synchronize time. All hours or seconds calculated eventually help to align server functions and tasks. After a certain number of seconds have gone by, the server will inform the CPU to be ready for upcoming tasks.

How does the time zone offset relate to a server?

A time zone offset is a numerical value that represents the difference in time between a specific time zone and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It indicates how many hours and minutes a particular time zone is ahead of or behind UTC. This is used to set your local time to standard UTC time.

Our server automatically adjusts your current date (current epoch) to the Unix format. VPS servers often synchronize their time with reliable time sources using protocols like NTP (Network Time Protocol). This helps ensure that the server's internal clock remains accurate.

At which point was the Unix epoch timestamp?

At the epoch time, the values of the Unix setup were calculated to be 01 01t00 00. The Unix epoch time directly is written as 1970 01 01t00 00, but in a human-readable format, the date and time were 1st January 1970, at midnight UTC. This timestamp was originally a 32-bit counter, meaning it would stop in 2038 but due to adjustments to the format, we no longer face this issue.

The Unix timestamp can count each hour and second up to a certain date and is an example to represent civil time. Regardless, some applications running on a VPS might need to handle time zone offsets based on user preferences or geographical context.

Ozair Malik
The author
Ozair Malik

Ozair is a Cyber Security professional hailing from Islamabad, Pakistan. He holds a bachelor's degree in Cyber Security and has been president of AUCSS (Air University Cyber Security Society) for 2021-22. Ozair's expertise lies in Technical content writing, Information Security, and Cyber Security. As the founder of CySecOps, a Cybersecurity company that specializes in SaaS & E-commerce digital security, Ozair is passionate about ensuring the safety of businesses online. Alongside his exceptional team building and leadership skills, Ozair is an analytical, observant & critical thinker. Stay up-to-date with Ozair's work by following him on Twitter @OzairMalik13, LinkedIn, or visiting his website at