Microsoft

Poll: Do you still use or even have an active screen saver?

Take the TechRepublic Windows Blog poll of the week and compare answers with your peers: Do you still use or even have an active screen saver?

Once upon a time, computer users, particularly those using Microsoft Windows, spent extraordinary amounts of time, effort, and money worrying about their screen saver. For many, it was a defining part of their computing experience -- like having a nice car or expensive watch. It seemed you could tell a lot about a person by what screen saver he or she used.

I'll admit a certain fascination with screen saver applications myself. I was particularly fond of the fish aquarium screen savers -- perhaps it was the soothing sight of virtual fish swimming in a virtual tank that was appealing. It's funny, but I don't really remember. In fact, I don't really think about screen savers any more at all. It is all about the power settings now, I suppose.

Our residence Windows expert, Greg Shultz, just published a TechRepublic Photo Gallery that reflects a point in time where screen savers were a big deal. His gallery shows screenshots from After Dark for Windows 1.0, including the famous Flying Toasters screen saver. That is what got me thinking about the subject.

I am curious, though, are you still using a screen saver? Is it a third-party screen saver or one of the default applications that comes with Windows? Do you spend much time thinking about which screen saver you want to use? Do you change it often?

For me, the answer to all those questions is no. I set the time limit on the power settings and that is it. Am I in the minority or the majority in this regard?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

105 comments
twistedg
twistedg

It's a simple country scene with the real weather displayed live from just about anywhere you desire. You can even use your own picture. The basic version is free.

procomsol
procomsol

When I'm not using my computer, I'm not sitting in front of it to watch the screensaver; My attention is focused elsewhere. A screensaver uses more computer power and resources than just turning the monitor off. It's strictly a practical issue for me.

Northeast & Atlantic RR
Northeast & Atlantic RR

Thanks to BOINC I can put my all my computers to good use, when I'm not actively using them, with tasks like SETI at home, etc.

imissmh
imissmh

just the word 'screensaver' triggers a rise of mixed emotion in me (mad-sad-glad) as i have been (clearly!) impacted and forever changed by a single instance of misfortune. one day back in the day (windows 98) i was offered a free theme download to sample from the soon to be released windows plus! 98 and so casually enough i did. i selected the 'fashion' theme and it was a totally wonderful unexpected delight and ultimately was just what we (me & hp pavilion) needed to enrich our relationship and the hours spent together! then... 2000 upgrade happened and BYE BYE fashion theme! we can't take you with us... goodbye 'umbrella' pointer goodbye 'blinking eyelashes' in place of hourglass (which while we were waiting for whatever, we could drag those eyelashes all over and put them on anyone's face and we'd laugghh! and agree that they really only looked natural like they belonged, on dennis rodman.) good bye beautifully done excellent collection of b&w circa 40's 50's high fashion photo shots presented in artfully elegant slideshow which WAS my screensaver! HOW we are going to move on and what's more...WHY can't we take you with us? they can send a man to the moon for cryp's sake! i became obsessed with finding a way to make it BE... oh yes, WELL into xp (a couple of stabs to the heart with empty promises for a sure thing fix!) in the void which is my present, i have windows starfield screensaver. woo hoo. not really, BOO! HOO! boo hoo boo hoo - boo dreadful HOO!

ving
ving

I no longer user a screen saver. I have my systems (3 in all) set to go blank in 15 minutes and hard drives to shut down after 30 minutes.

ramjet
ramjet

But they are still active. I ran Amiga Computers to the very end, So I'm quite familiar with the Flying Toaster one (It was created as advertising for the Video Toaster which only ran on an AMIGA at the time), but my current screen saver is a matrix type streaming green character one, with fly up/away pictures inserted from my picture dir.

rocketmouse
rocketmouse

I loved that one. Had it running on my Mac mini, which is now packed away alongside my Dell (they were KVMed to one screen,) which used to run the Fire saver mentioned earlier. I can't remember why I abandoned the aquarium style savers. I certainly enjoyed those. With only a MacBook running these days I have OS X running the picture slide show. It's nice to be reminded of pictures I've taken, and the mosaic is a nice touch. XP in BootCamp still has the Fire saver, but I rarely see it. I tend to not walk away when I'm using Windows. One time I did and was startled to come back to a flaming screen.

bagladymo
bagladymo

I found the ultimate...while it is running, my computer's algorhythms are contributed along with all other users to create 'moving fractals' basically speaking. It is not spyware. Beautiful designs that evolve and if you want to , you can vote which designs you'd like your 'sheep' to 'mate' with current ones to propogate more ... it's a very interesting project. You can also add your own creative fractals to the mix and talk with others using it on the forum. LOVE IT! http://www.electricsheep.org

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

For the past two years I have gotten my screensaver fix from the official Iron Man/Iron Man2 web sites. They are some of the coolest screen savers I've ever seen!

BavonWW
BavonWW

As none of my PCs are less than five years old the answer is NO. It uses up valuable processing power and memory space. All are set to turn off should inactivity exceed one hour. Security not an issue as enviroment is impossible to enter without right credentials. There again I set my girlfriends super dooper notebook to the 3d pipes using her photo as texture. I rather like it and am fighting my customary miserly urges to go out and get a top of the range lap-top.

dogknees
dogknees

Loved After Dark and wrote several of my own years back. The best ever for my money (though it was free) was the Maya plant generator. That was seriously cool and a real masterpiece of the programmer's art. Shame it won't run on newer OS's. However, when it got to the point where screen savers became almost a synonym for slideshows and a set of pictures I kind of gave up on them. I think some are missing the point though. Yes, they were designed to stop burn-in initially, but they quickly became (at least for most of my friends and I) eye-candy to be stared at when "contemplating the universe". These days I tend to run up a fractal program or similar and watch it slowly appear instead. Alternatively, I can watch 3D renderings slowly appearing, ray-traced with radiosity and all the fruit turned on, for hours.

davdun75
davdun75

I set them up, on all my computers but usually have only a 4-6 min delay before they run, and my monitor goes "standby" in 10 min... I power down the monitor for any inactivity over about 60 min.

techrepublic
techrepublic

I loved the After Dark screensavers. I still have the boxed software on my shelf from the original Flying Toasters and all of the Star Trek ones and Babylon 5. Now I just have the power settings turn off my LCD monitors.

david.hunt
david.hunt

The first time I say it, I said to the owner, "that doesn't look good!" He then told me it was a screensaver. Ah, the 80's were a long time ago ;-)

david.hunt
david.hunt

- On my main workstation at work, Yes. One of the CentOS default picture shows, but it lasts about 10 minutes before the power settings blank the screen. - On all my Virtual Machines, No. A screen saver on a VM just wastes CPU cycles. "Blank Screen" is set on all of them regardless of Windows or Linux. - On my main workstation at home, No. Just blanks the screen and then power settings put the monitor in a low power state. It is mainly acting as a server and virtual machine host, but I also use it as a workstation (CentOS). - On my wife's PC, Yes. Rotates photos for about 10 minutes, until power settings shut down the screen. - On my laptop, Yes. Displays the host name in 3D moving text (Windows-7 built-in SS) for about 10 minutes, until power settings shut down the screen. - On monitoring PC, No. Screen is permanently active (Linux). It has proved that LCDs do suffer from image burn-in.

sterghe
sterghe

Maybe it's just me, but since my wallpaper will now change to a different picture every ten seconds--and because I occasionally go on picture-downloading sprees sufficient to make the most prodigious Park Ave. shopaholic weak in the knees-I have no particular interest in actual screensaver software. My screen's long past worrying about carrying around the scars of a permanent Pong game, and I'm just as likely to get distracted and waste time staring at nothing productive as my pretty pictures pass by as I ever was with spinning geometric shapes ... but what's the difference, really?

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

"For men the answer to all those questions is no." Ha ha - are you suggesting Real Men don't use screensavers?

jimmeq
jimmeq

I remember when Windows had its own section at the PC Expo's in NYC. Screen Savers were the rage back then as people spent less time at the keyboard. Now, I don't think my PC is idle long enough for a SS to kick in. I have noticed it on my personal laptop, but apparently it is the default setting. (I'm one of the 3%'ers who are clueless.)

Pats3
Pats3

I take lots of photos and put them on as screen savers - because I like to see them.

Realvdude
Realvdude

My screen saver kicks in at 15 minutes, which is just the starfield; then the monitor turns off 15 minutes after that. I use this scheme mainly for time tracking at work. The flying toasters always reminded me a the Commodore Amiga based editing system Video Toaster.

gsyck
gsyck

I have one because the corporate encryption program turns it on and sets it to 10 minutes at every login. It is a pain to have to turn it off every time I reboot. (several times a day)

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

I like the "radar" one, since I work in a radar research place. Mostly just to accentuate my running Linux.

mousebooster
mousebooster

I have a quite practical Sreensaver, the PowerDimmer. After the specified Delay time the screen dim down, subtly it goes darker and darker until black. No nasty breaks / Blackouts if reading large textes on the screen. A sage, soft solution. (Google for it; it's free.) :-)

timj219
timj219

I push a screensaver to all our PCs with content dictated by management. PR sends me new slides about once per week and I turn them in to a screensaver

TBBrick
TBBrick

Sites that promoted free uber-cool screensavers and emoticons used to be the quickest way for a user to get some kind of malware on their PC. Once in a blue moon I still get some doofus user take the bite.

chrisachangala
chrisachangala

I use a blank or login screen on my pc at work because I often have to hop up and help others and leave confidential or very volatile information on my screen. At home I roll with the photo gallery. It makes me smile to see memories that i'd forgotten about.

gekoman
gekoman

System 47 by mewho. Can't be beat if you use a screensaver either at work or home.

CodeCurmudgeon
CodeCurmudgeon

Our screen saver is set by network admin along with updates, and even users with local admin privileges can't re-set it. It's a security and privacy issue 'cause a lot of our users have access to confidential medical data and/or Social Security numbers.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I went as far as to create a folder in "My Pictures" called "Screensave Slides" I filled it with pictures of the kids, vacations, sporting events etc. I set the screensaver to 2 minutes, with an 8-minute grace period on the password. At 10 minutes, the screen is powered off. When I pause for a minute or two, pictures come up to remind me why I'm at work. When the screen turns off, I need to enter my password to sign back on. Otherwise, I just hit and what I was doing pops right back immediately.

codepoke
codepoke

Screensavers are now the locking method of choice for us.

kagnew
kagnew

Yes I use a screen saver. I don't worry about my screen but I like the slideshow of the My Pictures folder. I get to see pictures that I would only look at once every two or three years. I also have it running on my home theater system and it is always well received when visiting family members come to Florida.

Mooglytonkers
Mooglytonkers

I use Drempels. You even set it to BE the background picutre! It rocks my world

amybdeitz
amybdeitz

I use the bubbles stock screensaver because it still shows me what's on my desktop, so I'm less likely to ignore important work in favor of watching my photos go by or toasters.

kferraro
kferraro

When my grown children and their friends stop over I find them huddled around the computer just watching the screen saver.

BMoreRavens
BMoreRavens

I just alternate from a fake BSOD (from sysinternals) and a fake cracked LCD pic. only for 15 mins, then to power save. My LCD takes a few seconds to come back from power save, so the screen saver is my buffer if im watching a webcast or on the phone. Plus the fake BSOD really gets people.

Chug
Chug

These days with all the "green" initiatives and having the monitor just shut off through the power settings, there isn't much point in a separate screen saver anymore.

stevef61
stevef61

At Home just blank after 5 min and power down after 30. Corporate wise we use My Pictures Screensaver set to 5 minutes which points to our inventory software's pictures directory and randomly scrolls through every unit in the warehouse. The BIG boss loves it when customers walk through the office and see pictures of our "stuff". All of them are set to power down after 4 hours for overnight thought.

dennisbryant
dennisbryant

There has never been a better way to show the pictures you have taken. Instead of sitting hidden away in an album or hard drive they can be seen.

robertka1
robertka1

I am a tech supervisor for a large computer chain store. A fair number of our customers come in with crt monitors trying to get them fixed or replaced under warranty because of burnt marks on their screens, mostly from watching the stock market. Of course, warranties do not cover that and I guess I have developed a sense of concern for my monitors at home.

Arasaka
Arasaka

A screen saver set to short time, that has the "On resume, password protect" flag checked is a simple way of adding layered security to your system. We always can't lock the system when we are pulled away quickly, and most users forget or just don???t lock their workstations. Its not prefect, but security is all about layers.

pgit
pgit

There's a few very high quality web cams trained on fish tanks, set it to full screen and voila, "screen saver." And most people wouldn't realize it's not a normal screen saver, jiggling the mouse or pressing the space bar will not bring it back to the desktop. (you have to press esc, then you'll realize you're watching flash in a web browser) http://www.ustream.tv/discovery/live/animals-fish Take your pick. Notice a couple of them are on an honest-to-goodness river bed. The eagles are also mesmerizing: http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles#utm_campaigne=synclickback&source=http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/bald-eagle-cam/&medium=3064708 Haven't used a screen saver since probably 2000 or thereabouts. Except on one machine, which ironically has an LCD monitor that actually has burned the desktop icons in. The only LCD I've ever seen that on. And the last 4-5 CRT types I had were low power, didn't require a screen saver. I was quite surprised to see this LCD burn in like that.

cd003284
cd003284

I still have CRTs - great, big, beautiful, sharp, clear, clean, bright displays with gorgeous, rich, vibrant colors - so I still have screensavers, too, though they're only there as utilities. Not that I've got anything against flat panels; it's just that my SyncMasters and Trinitrons are exceptionally good monitors and I usually use things until they reach functional obsolescence.

Deltoid
Deltoid

My unused computing cycles are donated to various BOINC projects, and several of them use the GPU to perform calculations, so a screensaver would cut into the amount of work my machines can do when I'm not around. Occasionally I'll fire up one of the ReallySlick.com screensavers because, man, they're just cool!

terry.sanderson
terry.sanderson

If we're still using screensavers, aren't using the cloud, and haven't yet thrown away our PC's for a Motorola Atrix 4G, then we're losers? Sigh.

Ole88
Ole88

...more for security than anything else. I almost always lock my desktop when I walk away and have starfield set to come on with 10 minutes of inactivity and lock the comptuer. The "power save" function, which I hate is set at 20 minutes. If I'm gone long enough, sure turn off the monitor, but if it's just a couple of minutes don't bother. I am more concerned with security than power settings due to the fact that the system and monitor are both rather green units to begin with.

phighfill
phighfill

This is the only screen saver that I used to use, but unfortunately is does not work very well on the new "faster" computer systems.

Lizg
Lizg

I have the bubbles screensaver, but a slideshow for my desktop - I like the variety!

sjs
sjs

We are required by law to have our computer access locked after a few minutes of inactivity. So it might was well be a screen saver as nothing. I don't let anyone download screensavers - they can only use the default ones that come with windows. Ah for the days of flying toasters

pgit
pgit

Johnny Castaway, what a blast from the past! I ran it in the win95/98 days. I recall at the time I couldn't believe it was free. The whole concept of free software seemed so incredibly odd to me back then.

L72
L72

Everyone I know use to love this. It was especially fun the first time you saw him put up Christmas ornaments, or do something else for another holiday. I, too, wish this was still around and functional.

scott
scott

I loved this screensaver. Wish they would modernize it a bit, would be fun.

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