Are Screensavers necessary and still needed?

Screensavers are a visual treat and there are plenty available all over the Internet. But are Screensavers necessary anymore? A screensaver is basically nothing but a computer program that  fills the screen with images or abstract patterns. It gets activated when the computer is not in use for a particular period of time. The idea behind this originally was to prevent phosphor burn-in on Cathode Ray Tube and Plasma monitors. But since now most of us use LCD monitors, they are used mainly for entertainment or security purposes.

Are Screensavers necessary anymore

Colorful and animated screensavers look good to the eye and sometimes give you a feeling of freshness and fill you with enthusiasm. Back in the 90s and 2000s, they were in abundance and the beautifully animated ones were a craze. Back then, they were necessary too, because of the CRT monitors. But as we moved towards LCD monitors, are the screensavers are activated for security purposes mainly.

Are Screensavers Necessary

Purpose of Screensavers

The working method of CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors made it necessary to have an object always moving on the screen. The CRT monitors used a gun that focused rays to different phosphorus pixel centers on the back of CRT screens and used to hit them. The phosphorus points were heated upon hit and produced light. Several hits all over the screen backside produced heat that converted into light to show us images on the screen.

If an image was left still, the cathode ray gun would hit the same phosphorus points again and again to retain the image. Since light was produced by heat, in those circumstances, the possibility of creating a permanent burn was high and hence screensavers were introduced. Screensavers used to make the gun hit different phosphor points as long as the screensavers were always moving.

One can argue why not simply turn OFF the monitor if not in use for a while. But the CRT monitors pulled a heavy load of electricity when turned ON. This was a reason why turning off CRT monitors was not recommended unless you were sure you won’t be using the computers for more than an hour or so.

Thus, with CRT monitors, the screensavers were a necessity as they prevented screen burn and saved energy, by way of keeping monitors ON. However, since most of us now use LCD screens, there is no real use for screensavers.

Are Screensavers still needed

If you are using an LCD monitor, you do not need screensaver. It is a different thing that some computer users still prefer visual treats and hence install good screensavers. Some prefer to have the screensaver activated when they are away from the screen and require them to logon again. Yet others may like to use a screensaver which will display some system information.

With LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors, there are no phosphors involved. Though the heat is there, it is not as much as the one created by CRT gun.

The images are created on an LCD monitor by aligning liquid crystals in different forms using electricity. The rear side of LCD monitor is also a screen containing liquid crystals. The crystals are arranged in a specific format and heated a little to produce light that in turn, produce image on the screen.

Since the heat is not much, you can keep a static image on the LCD screen for a considerable period of time without harming the screen. But keeping a static image consumes energy, so it is better to turn off the monitor as long as you are not using it. Unlike CRT monitors, there is no heavy pull of electricity when the screen is turned ON. So you can use the Windows Power Options to turn it off after a while of inactivity and turn it on simply by moving mouse or pressing any key. Screensavers are therefore not required anymore.

Save Battery Instead

Some people still use screensavers for fun, but that is entirely their choice and not a necessity. Using screensavers means keeping the screen ON. In the ON state, monitor drains off energy. In this age where we depend on battery life, saving each unit of energy is a necessity. It is always better to turn off the screen when it is not in use and later turn it on when required. That will pretty much save a lot of your battery juice.

Hence to conclude, the answer to “Are screensavers necessary and still needed” depends on the following:

  1. Yes, if you are using a CRT monitor of the 90s and 2000s;
  2. No, if you are using a modern computer monitor or integrated screens built into tablets and smartphones.
Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

13 Comments

  1. JSG

    Actually and LCD can also get screen burn. Just takes longer. I know this for a fact, since we have on at our office with screen burn. Same information displayed 24/7 for over 6 months on an LCD, and it will begin burning it in. The LCD monitor was almost never turn off and a good portion of the information, such as window frames or titles didn’t change, only content in the middle.

  2. Jim Boyd

    They have not been necessary or needed, not even with CRTs, since Windows 95.

    All one needs to do is simply set the monitor to tun off after a specified time in the Windows power settings. Not only saves your monitor….but also reduces the demand on your processor by actually letting it idle rather than running a screen saver.

  3. Jim Boyd

    Unlikely.

    While LDCs and Plasma displays do have a image retention issues similar to “screen burn”…(called images persistence)…it is never permanent and can be cured by simply turning the display off and unplugging it for a couple of days.

  4. joebatch

    @AnandK, Thanks for the article it was informative. I also put the fish tank as my new screen saver after I finished reading it.

  5. Peter

    What a confusing article. There is a good reason to keep the monitor on and to use a screen saver. First, if the screen is off people tend to just switch the computer off when going home. Since the screen is off there can’t be a program which needs a proper shut-down running, right?
    Secondly, leaving the computer open to anyone who only has to turn the monitor back on is poor security. If you leave the computer alone often, use a screen saver with password unlock.
    Safe from hands with ill intentions and safe from unintended but still inappropriate shut-downs.

  6. david hays

    ” saving each Ohm of energy is a necessity.” The Ohm is a measure of resistance, not energy. You might say Watts instead. (a measure of power)
    I use a screen saver at work, because I can display pictures of my interests. I am supposed to lock the workstation when I leave it as it is, so no it is not required. The monitors are set to shut down (standby) after a half hour anyway. Reviving the computer turns them back on, so you can log back in to the computer.

  7. Arun Kumar

    Normally, when I leave my computer, I lock it. All you have to do is to press Windows Key + L. That will keep people away from peeking into my computer because they’ll need password to unlock the computer.

  8. Lukas

    LCDs -CAN- get screen burn in. Luckily it’s not persistent as in CRTs. Most of todays monitor manufacturers embed a ” PIXEL SHIFT” solution to avoid this

  9. Jay

    If screensavers are no longer needed why when I mute my Samsung LED tv does the mute speaker icon move every few seconds? According to the manual it is to prevent screen damage.

  10. NahNood

    Or just use the “Blank” screensaver choice. 🙂

  11. DEU

    Time to rant and rave. Actually I would like a screensaver and would also like my computer to sleep when I instruct it to but since loading Windows 10, this is a big problem with many others including myself. Come on Microsoft we need a fix for this problem.

  12. R. Butler

    Because someone might leave the TV on for days or weeks at a time- say, at a restaurant that displays the news constantly. But it takes days at least for any burn in to occur (more often known now as “image persistence”, or “transient image persistence”, the latter of which is temporary). Computer monitors are rarely left on for that long nowadays, what with power saving options that are built into the OS, or the monitor itself even, that can turn it off or at least dim the display; even then they are usually in motion from usage or background programs, which shift the power state.

  13. R. Butler

    Why would people switch the computer off if the screen is off? That’s some serious old-school thinking there; most people at my workplace jiggle the mouse if the screen isn’t on. Its almost universally accepted that if the monitor is off but the power light is on, then just the screen is off. Only people I’ve seen turn off the computer when the monitor is off are kids.

    Plus you CAN secure the computer by automating it to “log out” or at least “lock out” after a long period of inactivity (15~30 minutes if you’re paranoid or have work-related stuff on it; up to an hour if not). Plus, whenever its allowed, people often use encrypted flash drives to store information off the computer, instead of leaving it physically where someone can get to it quite easily. So no, it’s not really that insecure.

    Additionally, I’ve come across a really weird problem since upgrading my home computer, where the screen saver will accelerate until it freezes up entirely. So I’ve just done away with the bubbles and ribbons entirely, and reconfigured it to shut the screen off after a period.

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