Understanding and Using Timestamps - Montana Webmaster

Understanding and Using Timestamps

What Is a Timestamp?

Photo of a digital clockA timestamp is a value that generally includes year, month, day, hour, minute and second and time zone. Timestamps can show up in quite a few formats. But, in each case, they are recording the specific time that something happened in a digital device. The key is that what you see is actually, just a formatted value, not the actual value itself.

The truth is, that a timestamp is just a long integer value. And, and not all timestamps even have the same number of integers: 10 digit, 13 digit, 16 digit, 19 digit. So, if you are working with timestamps, it’s good to have a little background information to use in your decision making.

You may see a T or a Z in a timestamp. The T separates the date from the hours. The Z stands for Zulu or UTC time zone at 0° longitude. It’s the current version of “Greenwich Mean Time”. Times in other places are calculated with an “offset”. The offset for Mountain Time (MT) is -7 hours.

Where Does a Timestamp Come from?

A timestamp is the record of internal time in some digital device. There is no implied accuracy in that timestamp because the device’s internal clock can be wrong, whether deliberate or not. The reason there is a Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) is to allow there to be a “real” timestamp that is agreed on worldwide.


  1. Timestamps in a legal environment

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