Year 2038 problem

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Animation showing how the date would reset, represented as a signed 32-bit integer (at 03:14:08 UTC on 19 January 2038).

The Year 2038 problem could cause problems for computers that use 32 bits of data to store time values, which are represented as the number of seconds since 1st January, 1970, also called the epoch.[1]

The problem arises as the biggest number you can store in 32 bits is the equivalent to the 19th January 2038, 03:14:07 UTC. This means that in the second after this time, the number will reset to 0 and be represented as a negative time. Depending on how the computer has been programmed, this could either crash the system or count backwards from the epoch.

A solution to this problem is to store the time in a 64-bit number, which will not reset for millions of years. Most 64-bit computers already store the time in a 64-bit number or can be configured to do so.

References[change | change source]

  1. "The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6". pubs.opengroup.org. Retrieved 2017-08-25.