Why you shouldn’t have a screensaver


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Back in the day (which sounds odd since it’s only 10-15 years ago) monitors would suffer from a condition known as burn-in.  This is where an unchanging image on the screen (say the borders that surrounded a form you would fill in every day) would create a persistent dark spot on the monitor that could even be seen when the monitor was off.  It didn’t take much for a monochrome monitor to suffer from this, either.

Enter the screen saver.  This utility would blank the screen and possible display a changing image.  These began to get more extravagant as time went on.  The long-standing favorite was After Dark with its now iconic flying toasters.  Eventually screensavers would become integrated into the operating systems and not require a third-party software product (although After Dark was arguably more entertaining than what Microsoft or Apple included with their systems).

Today, however, screensavers are not as necessary as they used to be.  The color CRT monitor is less susceptible to burn-in than the monochrome CRT.  The now popular LCD is almost completely resistant to burn-in (I say almost because I have seen it happen once).  Even so, many people believe they have the need for a screensaver because of what history has shown us with burn-in.  Many people just simply like them as an entertainment of their own.  As such, they’ll often look for something less boring than what the operating system already has which will take them to risky places as I posted about on Saturday.

Why do I feel you should bother with a screensaver?  Simply, burn-in is less of an issue, and the power needed to drive the monitor during the screensaver when you aren’t actively using your computer is creating an expense you should be willing to do without.

Modern operating systems can be set so that the monitor can be shut down into a low-power mode after a certain time.  I usually set mine to do so after an hour figuring that if I’m not at my desk, I should have turned it off by then anyway.  This saves on both power and the wear on your monitor.  My computer will also go to sleep some time after that to save even more power and wear.

If after reading this you still just gotta have a screensaver, may I suggest Electric Sheep? I mentioned this on Saturday as well.  It has one advantage over other screensavers in that it changes constantly.  I actually do run this myself and I find it almost completely different each week.  It’s hard to get bored with it at that rate.  I have Electric Sheep itself turn off its processing when the monitor goes dark so as to encourage my computer to sleep when its time comes.

Any questions? 

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