Windows

What are screensavers? Reasons to use or not use them anymore

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Bubbles Screen saver

What is a screen saver?

When you are not using a computer, screen savers are programs that either leave the screen blank or fill it with moving graphics. They were originally designed to avoid burn-in on older computer displays, hence the name “screen saver.” Modern monitors don’t have a burn-in problem, but people still use screen savers because they like them and may use them to cover up any potentially sensitive information that is left on the screen.

Here are other related guides on the use of screen savers: How to enable or disable Screen Saver in Windows 10 or Windows 11 via Windows Settings or Group Policy, How to prevent Windows Users from changing the Screen Saver via the Registry Settings, How to configure screensaver timeout in Windows 10 and How to set Desktop Wallpaper, Prevent access to Registry Editing tools, enable Screen Saver Timeout, and Password Protect the Screensaver via Group Policy.

Why screen savers were invented

Burn-in was an issue with older Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT) monitors. Any image that was shown on the screen for an extended period of time was “burnt into” the screen. You would still see a ghost image even if you totally switched off the monitor.

With static pictures, like interface components, this is especially problematic. For instance, the Windows taskbar may etch into the screen because it is usually static at the bottom of the screen. An old television with a news channel and a ticker at the bottom may have the ticker permanently burned into the screen. A burn-in may develop on an ATM that mostly shows a single image.

In essence, the phosphors inside the CRT that generate light have been unevenly worn down, making certain portions of the screen darker. Screen savers fixed this issue by turning on automatically while the machine was idle. By preventing a single picture from being displayed continuously on the screen, screen savers significantly reduce the risk of screen burn-in.

Are screen savers harmful to LCD screens?

The output of your LCD screen can change over time if you use a screen saver. Most LCD panels lose brightness over time, even with typical use, and leaving the display on with a screen saver only hastens this process. A vital part of an LCD monitor’s construction is typically the fluorescent backlight. If a display becomes too weak, it is usually best to replace it entirely. To be clear, if you frequently leave your LCD monitor on at night, you might need to buy a new one sooner. As a result, it is advised to use screen savers primarily for entertainment. With our current technology, the use of screensavers does not save anything. It is more effective to have an LCD display preset to shut down by itself after an extended period of inactivity.

What impact do screen savers have on system power saving?

Screen savers do not conserve energy, they require more energy to keep the display on and play the animation on the screen. A graphics-intensive 3D screen saver that leverages your graphics hardware to produce intricate 3D scenery would take even more energy, putting your computer into game mode and burning electricity when you’re not even at your computer.

Modern computers have power-saving features. Instead of configuring your computer to display a screen saver while you’re not using it, you may set the computer to automatically turn off its display when it’s not being utilized. This will reduce the use of electricity as well as laptop battery life. 

To change when your computer automatically turns off its display, follow these steps:

  • Press the Windows key to open the Start menu, type “Edit Power Plan“, and press Enter. 
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Opening Edit power plan in Start menu
  • Change the “Turn of the display” to the time you want your computer display to turn off automatically and click Save changes.
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Edit Power Plan settings

Why should you use a screensaver?

The term “screen saver” has evolved into a vague term as a result of advancements in monitor technology. However, screen savers are still useful for running antivirus software and other utility programs as well as for fun. See this detailed guide on how to enable the screen saver via windows settings or group policy.

To use a screensaver on your system follow the steps below.

  • Press the Windows key to open the Start menu, type “Change screen saver“, and press Enter. 
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Opening screen saver settings
  • Click the Screen saver drop-down and select from the list of screen saver options you have there.
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Screen Savers Settings
  • Click the Settings button to tweak the screen saver default settings.
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Screen Saver Settings
  • Click the Preview button to see how your screensaver will display on your screen, then click Ok to apply the change.

Anyone who uses an LCD monitor may increase their return on investment by having it powered off when not in use. Therefore, it is best to avoid using a screen saver if you have an LCD monitor. Although they were first used for both fun and functional reasons, they should only be used for amusement now.

Conclusion

The option to utilize a screen saver is yours, but you should be aware that doing so waste electricity. Alternatively, you may make a concession and briefly utilize a screen saver before shutting off your display. For instance, you could program a screen saver to start after five minutes and have the display turn off on its own after ten minutes.

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