The local system time of a computer is usually provided by two distinct components.
There is a battery-powered clock that is used to establish an initial time estimate when the machine is turned on. These clocks are typically very inaccurate. Local and international synchronization errors are often 5-10 minutes. In some cases, the battery clock is incorrect by hours or days.
The ongoing system time is provided by a software function and a pulse source. The pulse source “ticks” at some rate between 1-1000Hz. It has a nominal tick rate that is used by the system software. For every tick the system software increments the current time estimate appropriately. E.g., for a system with a 100Hz tick, the system time increments 10ms each tick.
This lacks any external synchronization and is subject to substantial initial error in the time estimate and to errors due to systematic and random drift in the tick source. The tick sources are typically low cost quartz crystal based, with a systematic error up to approximately 10 -5 in the actual versus nominal tick rate and with a variation due to temperature, pressure, etc. up to approximately 10 -5 . This corresponds to drifts on the order of 10 seconds per day.