Screen Saver Dos and Don'ts in Vista

9/5/2010 9:36:40 AM

Screen savers are designed to turn on when a computer has been idle for a specified period of time. The original job of the screen saver was to prevent image burn-in on CRT monitors by displaying a continuously changing image. With today's monitors, burn-in is no longer a problem, but screen savers are still around. The primary benefit they offer today is the ability to password-lock computers automatically when the screen saver turns on.

Configuring Screen Savers with Password Protection

Password-protecting the screen saver deters unauthorized users from accessing a computer, which can protect both the personal data of the user and the intellectual property of the organization. As an administrator, you should ensure that the computers you deploy have password-protected screen savers enabled.

You can password protect the screen saver by performing the following steps:

  1. Right-click an open area of the desktop and then select Personalize.

  2. Click the Screen Saver link to display the Screen Saver Settings dialog box, shown in Figure 1.

    Image from book
    Figure 1: Set a screen saver with password protection for user and organization security.

  3. Use the Screen Saver list box to select a screen saver. To disable the screen saver, select None and skip the remaining steps.

    Real World 

    Unfortunately, screen savers can use up a lot of the computer's resources, increasing both the energy usage of the computer (which otherwise would be idle) and its memory and processor usage. Some screen savers, particularly the three-dimensional ones such as 3D Text, can cause the processor to run at a high percent utilization. The reason for this is that 3D designs are very complex and the computer must make a lot of computations to maintain and update the screen saver image. For tips on reducing resource usage when screen savers turn on, see the sections of this chapter entitled "Reducing Screen Saver Resource Usage" and "Setting Energy-Saving Settings for Monitors."

  4. Select On Resume, Display Logon Screen.

  5. Use the Wait box to specify how long the computer must be idle before the screen saver is activated. A reasonable value is between 10 and 15 minutes.

  6. Click OK.

Reducing Screen Saver Resource Usage

A computer that is running Windows Vista and that performs background tasks or network duties, such as print services, should not be configured to use a complex screen saver, such as 3D Text. Instead, the computer should be configured with a basic screen saver, such as the Blank screen saver. You can also modify the settings for advanced screen savers to reduce resource usage. Typically, you do this by reducing the redraw and refresh rates of the advanced screen saver.

To reduce screen saver resource usage, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click an open area of the desktop and then select Personalize.

  2. Click the Screen Saver link to display the Screen Saver Settings dialog box.

  3. If you want to use a screen saver that uses fewer resources without making configuration changes, use the Screen Saver list box to select a basic screen saver, such as Blank or Windows Logo.

  4. If you want to use a more advanced screen saver but reduce its resource usage, select that screen saver and then click Settings. Afterward, use the Setup dialog box to reduce the Complexity, Speed, or similar field values that affect the drawing or refreshing of the screen saver. In the example shown in Figure 2, I've reduced the resolution and set the Rotation Type to None to reduce the resource usage of the 3D Text screen saver.

    Image from book
    Figure 2: Advanced screen savers have settings that you can use to reduce resource usage.

  5. Click OK once or twice as necessary to close the open dialog boxes.

Setting Energy-Saving Settings for Monitors

Many newer monitors have energy-saving features that cause them to shut off after a certain period of inactivity. Enabling this feature can reduce the organization's electricity bill because monitors typically use a lot of electricity to stay powered up. On some systems, this feature might have been automatically enabled by the operating system during installation. This depends, however, on the operating system properly detecting the monitor and installing any necessary drivers.

On a portable laptop computer running on batteries, saving energy is especially important. By configuring the monitor to shut off when the computer is idle, you can save the battery life and extend the battery availability time when the laptop is unplugged.

To manage a monitor's energy settings, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click an open area of the desktop and then select Personalize.

  2. Click the Screen Saver link to display the Screen Saver Settings dialog box.

  3. Click Change Power Settings. The Power Options Properties dialog box is displayed.

  4. In the left pane, click Choose When To Turn Off Display.

  5. Use the selection list provided to specify when the monitor should be turned off to save energy. By default, all the standard power plans turn off the computer's monitor after 20 minutes.

  6. Click Save Changes.


If the computer is connected to a monitor that doesn't support Energy Saving settings, some power options might be grayed out or unavailable. If you are configuring the computer in a build area and are using a different monitor than the one the user will have, you might want to obtain the user's monitor model and repeat this process.

Real World 

Typically, you'll want to turn off the monitor after 15 to 20 minutes of idle time. On my office computer, I turn on the screen saver after 7 minutes and then turn off the monitor after 15 minutes of idle time. On my laptop, I use settings of 5 minutes and 10 minutes, respectively.

  •  Modifying Display Appearance and Video Settings
  •  Installing Programs in Vista: The Essentials
  •  Configuring Program Compatibility in Vista
  •  Managing Installed and Running Programs in Vista
  •  Managing Remote in Vista
  •  Improving Disk Performance in Vista
  •  Working with Basic and Dynamic Disks
  •  Working with Disks, Partitions, and Volumes in Vista
  •  Partitioning Disks and Preparing Them for Use in Vista
  •  Moving a Dynamic Disk to a New System
  •  Troubleshooting Common Disk Problems
  •  Managing Offline Files in Vista
  •  Configuring Disk Quotas
  •  Installing Networking Components in Vista
  •  Configuring Local Area Connections
  •  Managing Local Area Connections
  •  Troubleshooting and Testing Network Settings
  •  Detecting and Resolving Windows Vista Errors
  •  Scheduling Maintenance Tasks in Vista
  •  Backing Up and Recovering a Computer with Vista
    Top 10
    Synching an On-Premises Database with SQL Azure
    How To Specify And Build A Media PC (Part 1)
    Collaborating Within an Exchange Server Environment Using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 : Understanding the History of SharePoint Technologies
    Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 1) - Windows Media Center
    Computing Yourself Fit (Part 4)
    Parallel Programming : Understanding and Using Tasks
    iPhone Application Development : Building a Multi-View Tab Bar Application (part 2) - Implementing the Area View
    Sharepoint 2007: Use the My Links to Manage Your Links
    Working with the Windows Phone 7 Application Life Cycle (part 1) - Observing Application Life Cycle Events
    Most View
    Programming the Mobile Web : Testing and Debugging (part 3) - Client-Side Debugging
    Asus Zenbook UX31A : In The Prime Of Zen
    V For Venerable One
    Developing an SEO-Friendly Website : Optimizing Flash (part 1)
    Leveraging and Optimizing Search in SharePoint 2010 : Customizing the Search User Interface
    The ASP.NET AJAX Infrastructure : The Script Manager Control
    iPhone 3D Programming : Blending and Augmented Reality - Stencil Alternatives for Older iPhones
    Online Critiquing (Part 1)
    Windows 7 : Rolling Back to a Stable State with System Restore
    Safeguarding Confidential Data in SharePoint 2010 : Enabling SQL Database Mirroring
    Tasmania - Ideal Destination For Landscape Photographers (Part 1)
    Blackberry World 2012 (Part 3) - Mobile computing platform
    The Return of The iPad
    Every Cloud...(Part 1) - Storage Space
    IIS 7.0 : Troubleshooting - Using Tools and Utilities
    Microsoft Surface VS Apple iPad
    Windows Server 2008 : Planning Operating System Virtualization (part 1)
    Deploying the Client for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 : Installing the Outlook Client for Exchange Server
    IIS 7.0 : Configuring IIS Logging
    Super-Thin LED Screen From Viewsonic : VX246h-LED monitor