It is only a minor obsession. I'm satisfied to be within a second which is good for digital communications modes that depend on accurate time, rather than the millisecond or even microsecond precision. Human technology can keep time to within 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000,000 or so but I would soon find myself single if I started investing the family nest egg in Cesium or Hydrogen Maser clocks.
Around a second accuracy is good for the JT modes like JT65 and JT9 (in the WSJT-X or JT65-HF programs), as well as WSPR. It is also handy if you're networking the N1MM logger program so that stations do not enter logs that are in the future, as far as the other stations are concerned.
There are 3 ways I've used to satisfy the craving for accuracy.
- The Network Time Protocol (NTP). This protocol runs over an IP network and does a great job of keeping computers in synch with each other despite the delays inherent in networks. Windows supports NTP but the implementation is not the best, so I generally use another free package from Meinberg to keep the system aligned with expensive atomic clocks at the National Research Council and other centres around the world. My only complaint with Meinberg is that it takes its time setting the clock after the system starts - around a 1/2 hour - which is pesky, especially on a laptop. All Linux systems have an NTP client available to install.
- Short Wave Stations. WWV, CHU and others transmit precise time signals, although they are somewhat skewed by the ionosphere unless you happen to live near one. I have an inexpensive clock that is always right which uses WWV. I'm sure there's also an inexpensive way to use WWV to set the computer clock but I've never tried to find one because GPS is so readily available.
- GPS - GPS (also GLONASS and Galileo) satellites send out very accurate time signals as each satellite contains a Cesium timepiece. Technology is available to use GPS to keep very accurate time for advanced computer and telephony systems but simple software is available for using a standard GPS dongle (either a USB or Serial Port) that usually runs around $20-30 to keep the system clock from drifting. The GPS solution is useful if you don't have an Internet connection, like with portable operation, although NTP works just fine over a mobile phone hotspot.