17.4. Understanding the Drift File

The drift file is used to store the frequency offset between the system clock running at its nominal frequency and the frequency required to remain in synchronization with UTC. If present, the value contained in the drift file is read at system start and used to correct the clock source. Use of the drift file reduces the time required to achieve a stable and accurate time. The value is calculated, and the drift file replaced, once per hour by ntpd. The drift file is replaced, rather than just updated, and for this reason the drift file must be in a directory for which the ntpd has write permissions.