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  • #2272567

    Screen saver/ wall paper policy


    by tech06 ·

    We’re in the process of upgrading all Win98 machines to WinXP and our IT dept is thinking about imposing user policy on those machines by restricting changing of the screen saver and wallpaper that users brought from home. At the same time we’ll implement a policy but not sure to what extend the rules have to be. We’re a small/medium business with about 70 LAN users. Could someone please shed their experience in dealing with restricting screensaver on work computers? Do you disallow ALL screen savers or just the ones from outside the company?
    Thanks for all input:)

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3165302

      A happy worker is a productive worker

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      I hate restricting my users. Sometimes I have to, but I prefer to educate rahter than restrict.

      My users are restricted from installing any software, but they are free to make any changes to their desktop and screensaver, that don’t require software installation.

      • #3165260

        sounds about right

        by tink! ·

        In reply to A happy worker is a productive worker

        Being I’ve never had more than 15 users, and currently only have 5, I’ve never actually implemented a formal policy. But once did have to install a customized company screensaver on all machines because the President didn’t like one employee’s scantily clad Christina Aguilera screensaver.

        Restriction of outside screensavers sounds about right. Allowing employees to customize their computers using only the pre-loaded options is good. It allows them some freedom of choice but within controlled boundaries.

      • #3164529

        installing screensavers from web

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to A happy worker is a productive worker

        brings spyware. add siteadvisor plugin then goto google and search for screensavers

        you’ll see a large# bring activex spyware onto your system (the red checked sites).

        one problem we have is that users endlessly change their PCs settings. I suppose if it makes them happy.

        I’d restrict ability to install new ones tho because of spyware. the OS selection is pretty limited tho. maybe you can give them an approved sites list.

        • #3143583

          Screen Saver Advocate

          by donaldcoe ·

          In reply to installing screensavers from web

          I have read many of these blogs, which saddens me to think why the problems with workstation maintenance are in such a state of confusion.

          First I want to say, ?That I am a Screen Saver Advocate? and for desktop wallpapers that show good taste and that do not harm the workspace public. Being in the IT business since before it was an IT business and or when no one really cared since they had nothing to look at anyway and when the first VGA monitors use to show that burned in look of screen images be they text or organizational logos. From a maintenance point of view it was pure good sense to activate some form of screen saver. No one seems to notice that every version of Windows since version 3.1 screensaver assortments were offered freely by Microsoft with the operating system installation including a select few of background images.

          I now work in an environment that promotes locking down workstations that user?s cannot even perform simple maintenance optimization tweaks such as ?hard drive defragmentation?. To me, we should be concerned about maintaining the operational performances thus the overall longevity of the PC not how best to keep a job.

          I have learned that No One likes a Plan John or Jane, just take a look in the parking lot how many of the same style-color-cardboard boxes do you see. It is my bet you don?t see more than two.

          Cut with the spyware claims because we all know that’s BULL.

        • #3143548

          Try this:

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Screen Saver Advocate

          Get the siteadvisor plugin. (mcafee –
          search for screensavers on google.
          you’ll see about 60% ARE infected with spyware.

          why should users be performing defrags? they are not in IT and not equipped to diagnose problems. sure they are generally good. Kind of like a driver saying ‘I hear a noise from transmission, why don’t I change the air filter’

          sure we should be concerned with keeping PCs alive. but that’s not the end users concern, and spyware reduces that life.

          And you’re right on with the last comment. My horror is that everyone will start thinking the same. we’ll all drive the same cars, go home to the same houses… I don’t know if you read CS Lewis sci fi where they went to a planet where exactly this was happening.

          But at work, PCs owned by the company are not the place for personalization since it’s been demonstrated to 1) waste endless time of end users constantly changing wallpaper and screensavers, 2) LOTS of screensavers, i.e. whole websites are dedicated to installing spyware. maybe not keyloggers but definitely registry and performance destroying pop-up ad spyware.

          Kind of like letting your kids go where ever they want, so that they can feel like un-restricted free spirits, but not telling them to keep out of seedy neighborhoods where they get robbed.

          edited to show actual google results, search for ‘screensavers’:
          sponsored hits (two)
 – green
 – many spyware downloads
          top hits (in order)
 – still a spyware site
 – at least one spyware download
 – links to spyware sites
 – links to spyware sites
 – apparently no spyware
 – links to spyware sites
 – at least 10 spyware downloads
 – spyware free
 – spyware free
 – spyware free

          – this was just the first page and more than HALF had spyware.

          you really didn’t know, did you?

        • #3143450


          by tekwar007 ·

          In reply to Try this:

          Inappropriate material is one thing, but if someone wants to put an appropriate picture of their family on their desktop, so be it. Why does a user do a defrag? That’s got to be one of the dumbest questions I’ve seen from an IT related person!! You obviously believe everyone but an IT person is an idiot. And just how dangerous is doing a defrag? I haven’t seen one yet that caused the end of the world. Wake up – ease up, let people have lives!!

        • #3144676

          no dumb questions, just dumb users

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Grinch

          we even had an IT guy whose answer to everything is to do a defrag even if they have an unrelated problem; and who’s being a grinch with ‘dumbest question’ stuff? IT should schedule defraggers to run automatically after people leave, not to slow them down. dumb or smart, end users are not responsible for their PC.

          I could do an oil change but should I on a company car? should the maintenance dept think I’m dumb because company policy won’t let me change the oil in a company car?

          and as someone else mentioned in this thread, ‘appropriate’ picture of their family quickly turns into ‘appropriate’ swimsuit model or naked centerfold.

          they can put a picture of their loved one on their desk. no reason for it on the COMPANY owned PC. PCs get moved about and swapped. sometimes someone has to come in and work on another persons PC for a while. should everything be hard to see because of background pix, for the other person?

          if they were smart, companies could allow personalization not to the PC but via the login to network. then whatever PC the person was working on would show up with their settings, and not for temp workers or for someone else logged into their PC.

        • #3144246

          How many users WANT to do a defrag?

          by tink! ·

          In reply to Grinch

          I agree with Dr. Dij in that users should not be doing defrags. The IT department should schedule these outside of work hours.

          Besides 90% of end users, including those who know HOW to defrag, don’t WANT that responsibility, or the to take the time to do it. And the company certainly doesn’t want them to be losing productivity to do defrags.

          As for personal pics on the computer, I agree in a larger company with many computers, one should NOT put personal items on the computer. You just never know when something will happen to your computer and that personal stuff gets put into someone else’s hands.

        • #3144239

          I agree…

          by tech06 ·

          In reply to How many users WANT to do a defrag?

          If I’m not mistaken, administrator’s right is required in order to defrag (at least on Windows 2000/XP machine). If we let the users defrag, doesn’t that mean they’ll have the admin authority and who knows what else can happen if they abused the power…??

    • #3164533

      Depends on location of PC

      by thefrown ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      We will use a standard wallpaper and blank screensaver on PCs that are in public-facing areas. Otherwise, we let give our users a certain amount of freedom with wallpaper (however in Local Government our users have to abide by a “Dignity at Work” policy so nudity/violence/religious/racist etc stuff that may offend a colleague is out). We also restrict screen savers to those supplied with Windows; as we don’t allow our users to install their own software or update the OS.

      We consider locking the machine with a password protected screen saver after 15 minutes of inactivity to be more important, so all machines will lock after 15 minutes inactivity, 5 minutes for machines in public areas. Whilst this is a poor substitute for good training, it does offer an individual some degree of protection against someone using their logon should they be called away from their desk in a hurry.

      • #3164519


        by tech06 ·

        In reply to Depends on location of PC

        Thank you for your kind replies. As a user and a IT person in the company, I do agree to give them some ‘freedom’ but also have to watch out for company’s interest. We have users who run those 3D screen savers/favorite football teams/seasonal holiday screen savers/vacation photos slides and then complain their computers are running so slow! I guess it’s human nature to attempt to use it if it’s there. We’ve informed users about the the potential risks of running those screen savers but due to the lack of policy and standards not every user follows the rule and it’s hard for people like us to enforce it.

    • #3164499

      Our policy is in the employee handbook

      by oldbag ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      Our business is selling and servicing cars. Our users are only allowed product related screen savers and wallpapers. We do not allow any competitive products (if you work at the Toyota store and your favourite vehicle is a Harley, sorry not allowed.) Any others are removed when found and a warning issued to the user.

      This policy not only eliminates the possiblity of offending customers and other users but helps with marketing.

      • #3141518

        Agree with Happy employees

        by scasey45 ·

        In reply to Our policy is in the employee handbook

        Allowing users to change their desktop/wallpaper and screen saver makes for a happy employee.
        I have even encouraged my users to use webshots.
        I’ve done it for years and have never had any problems with it. Unless you have roaming profiles then nothing should be used except defaults.

      • #3155486


        by techierob ·

        In reply to Our policy is in the employee handbook

        Coming from the automotive industry myself, I agree whole heartedly here. For sales and service staff in publically viewed areas, limiting the screensaver and wallpaper choices to franchise related themes is enforced by the departmental manager. Only in administration are employees allowed to have personal wallpapers, whereas screensavers are limited due to the spyware risk imposed by them. Any screensaver was reviewed before installation (employees didnt have access to install programs, not even on their roaming profile drives) and if it was ok, it was installed. There was a pretty general line in the sand and no one really brought in anything too risque anyway. Our admin department was by far the cheekiest lot in the dealership, but they still kept to the guidelines and no one felt the need to go beyond that.

        Controlled content, but flexibility in installations is probably the best happy medium for employee wellbeing and company security issues.

    • #3164358

      Company policy

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      We do allow users to change wallpaper and screen savers, but only to what is made available from the IT dept. We do scan in photos for users, but they’re not allowed to download anything to their individual desktops. We once had a user who had loaded “comet cursor” and her own photo gallery, what a mess, her machine took 5 minutes to boot and slowed the LAN to a crawl. The units that might be seen by customers are only allowed the company logo for wallpaper or screen saver.

    • #3143725

      You need to protect your network

      by rasilon ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      As much as I would love to allow people the flexibility, in a corporate network environment, giving people unrestricted access to wallpaper and screen savers is inviting disaster.

      You should block your users’ ability to install either one. Only I.T. should be able to add wallpapers or screen saver options.

      Best thing is to provide a reasonable selection of both and allow the user to select their preference.

      Hank Arnold

      • #3271021

        Att.HELP FROM YOU

        by bigben2g42000 ·

        In reply to You need to protect your network

        Please can you brief some thing that is being my worry.pls i have lean NETWORK ENGINEERING but i don’t how to put thing together,can you help show how to achieve my go.

    • #3143688

      Now is the time if…

      by j’s ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      In my County government setting users have written procedures against installing any software, including software, they do it anyway. The problem is with enforcement; management doesn’t always back you up…there is always an exception.
      Recently we found a problem with custom toolbars and screensavers that caused real problems with a several hundred-thousand dollar pilot project. Once the unapproved software was removed the users, some upper management, could successfully participate.
      The posts here all appear to have common themes: keep the users happy and don’t take away freedoms they already have. You may have to come to some middle ground: use default or IT supplied screen savers or help them set up a slide-show type screen saver, through XP, providing the workstations are adequately protected against known security threats.
      You are in a unique position to make changes due to your OS upgrade. It is the perfect time to evaluate and/or modify policy.

    • #3143681

      Moving foward with desktop policy

      by luis.a.rodriguez ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      Hi, in my exprience managing large networks I have found that restricting all third party screen savers especialy those downloaded from the web is the best practice, to minimize application problems that would affect business operations. The bigest ofendors are screen savers that also add other web toolbars tracking weather, sports. These could put serious demands on banwith and open the oportunity for other problems like spyware and keyloggers to gain access to network PC’s. The policy should be very clear and on what users can and can not do on work computers with a streamlined process on how to address policy violations. I can tell you that we have over 5000 Desktops and when it comes to network security we lock everthing down as much as posible via group policies; preventing non IS staff members from performing any installs that are not part of the standard configuration agreed by the organiozation.
      Luis Rodriguez
      Business Applications Analyst
      Pharmacy Technoloy BMC.

    • #3143678

      SoX, HIPAA, and others

      by smilingsheep ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      I work in a setting where we are a HIPAA covered entity. We have set via GPO a default screensaver and a lock on the system when the screensaver goes on. A 15-30 minute delay depending upon the location of the machine is what we’re working with.

      Also, if you are backing up a machine that is running a screensaver more complex than the basics from MS (no 3D), then your back-up will take a performance hit.

    • #3143602

      Screen saver policy

      by me109 ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      We are a small bank w/20+ computers. On our Teller line we allow only the Marquee but they are allowed to change the wording and colors for different holidays. We have to have it time out in 3 min. per our privacy policy. The remaining are allowed to use the screen savers that come with XP, but most have the marquee with our bank name scrolling. If a person wants different wall paper, they can bring it in on a disk, we scan it and then apply it, with approval from our IT committee. We try not to be too hard nosed about it. It makes a better work atmosphere to give alittle yet still follow policy.

    • #3143581

      sometimes you must lock them down

      by systemsgod ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      I hated doing it to my users, but, I really didn?t have much choice. Users were downloading and installing everything and anything they could get their hands on, and fixing all the resulting issues this caused (slow machines, spyware, viruses, etc.) reached a point where it was over-utilizing IT resources.

      After getting the blessing of the heads of our local business units, I locked all the pc’s down with policies using a plain background and the default cursor and screensaver.

      The users really hated it at first. But, after a few weeks even the biggest offenders began to notice how much better their pc ran and how the number of issues drastically declined. There were a couple who were very upset, but, because I had gotten approval from their boss beforehand, there was nothing they could do.

      The bottom line is that our company views the pc as company equipment, and not the user?s plaything. With time even those who were upset with me for taking away their ability to “individualize their pc” came to understand why I had to do it. The user?s managers were all very supportive of it, as they saw how much faster I was able to respond to other, more important issues (because I wasn?t bogged down with responding to “slow computer” issues, etc.).

      I must emphasize that you get management support for these changes beforehand, however. Without their support, there is no way this policy can succeed. As long as you have their buy-in, you?re golden.

    • #3143576

      Pre-approved “known-to-be-good” screensavers

      by simon_mackay ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      As far as screensavers g, I would prefer users work with either the Windows-supplied ones or third-party screensavers that are known to bebave properly on the computers. For example, I use and trust the ScreenPaver shareware photo screensaver ( which uses images from at least one user-nominated directory.

      What I look for with screen savers is how much excess baggage they supply to the system and what they supply. With ScreenPaver, I checked what was provided by the installer and only the .SCR file was provided. Some that are written using VB, Java, .NET or other p-code may need to supply certain runtime modules, but I would be careful of any that supply more than that.

      I also observe how they affect the system especially when they do a background task like virus-scanning, network-printing or file synchronization for example. I would even do a worst-case setup of a file synchronization via VPN while a screensaver is running. This makes the machine have to encrypt / decrypt data and move it out to the server while running the screensaver.

      With regards,

      Simon Mackay

    • #3143517

      ScreenSaver and Wallpapers on Network Computers

      by support ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      Left to their own devices, users will unintentionally sabatoge themselves, the net admin and other users…. that’s just our human nature. I’ve been a net admin since 1991 and EE since the late 70’s. A lot of water has passed under the bridge. So, this is said from experience. Personally, I like wallpapers and screen savers but either or both can introduce failure points and service disruptions in a pc whether networked or not.

      For instance, a background image, if it gets corrupted, can make a windows machine unbootable and you may never stumble onto the cause or solution in a reasonable amount of time. This has happened twice at my customer locations in the last 15 years. For a second instance, background images CAN consume a lot of graphics memory. Not an issue in newer machine since graphics memory has increased with new architectures…. but something to keep an eye on. What you want to be on the watch for is making sure some Lone Ranger (usually a guy type) doesn’t use porn images for the background. Check your organization’s IT policy. If it ain’t in writting, then as an Net Admin, it may not be your place to block the event. Use common sense.

      ScreenSavers can be both good and bad. If a user processes database info and a long query is running, a screen saver set to launch in 1 minute might not be a wise choice. Even 5 or 10 minutes may not be wise during a long, interactive database query. ScreenSavers usually are designed to do exactly that… save the screen! The underlying rules often say that all other processing will be either suspended or interrupted. Bottom line? A 7 minute query takes 45 minutes or never finishes and the user wants to blame someone or convince the boss to buy a new, more powerful computer…. go figure…

      ScreenSavers downloaded from the web and installed by a user OFTEN contain a lot more than just screen saving images. Running in the background, it isn’t unusual to find malware functioning on its own.

      The policy I recommend is to disallow non-approved screensavers and set the screensaver timeout at the server (Active Directory Policy Management) to 15 minutes or more depending on the client. It gets locked down and the users cannot alter the launch time. An enforced written policy, to me, is the best approach. You can and should do only so much regarding policies. It’s best to have upper level management sign-off on the written policies. The company, the employees and the net admins all know better where they stand and how policies can be administered and enforced.

      Larry Martin
      DataCom Systems
      Austin, TX

    • #3143481

      General Security plus HIPAA benefits-a double hitter!

      by rolandwelsch ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      We have 500 nodes on a network, 32 servers, and lots of different groups that don’t like the screen saver. We are County government and we have a nursing home, a public health department, a human services department, and a personnel department that all deal in HIPAA. No one really wants to spend any money on HIPAA and setting up a Windows Group Policy to do this made sense since it’s free and just about everyone here was too relaxed about security anyways. Plus, it helps meet HIPAA requirements.

    • #3144706

      Policy and Security

      by tig2 ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      I used to work in a company that was the technology arm for a healthcare provider. We insisted on referring to computers as “Network Connectivity Devices” and the only screensavers/wallpaper permitted were installed with the OS.

      The rationale for calling computers Network Connectivity Devices was to reinforce to the end user that the box on their desk was there to facilitate their job. Nothing else. The wallpaper/screensaver thing was about making sure that the computer locked down after a period of inactivity.

      It worked remarkably well. No one complained. What is on the screen past the windows makes remarkably little difference if the end user isn’t expecting to use the computer beyond work.

    • #3144648

      NO screensavers

      by leilani ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      I did tech support for years. I found that screensavers, as did this web site, pull too many resources as they are ALWAYS running in the background, whether you see them or not. Set to “start” in 3 minutes, or whatever, that also uses resources. Viruses can come in a .scr. I would not allow screensavers at all. Set it to NONE and forget it. As for wallpaper… I’d set policy to incorporate some sense of decency. 🙂

      • #3141715

        Group policy required

        by paul ·

        In reply to NO screensavers

        If you go to any large organisation, you find that the wallpaper is uniform and can not be changed, usually incorporates the company logo or similar. Screen savers are just using resources and with LCD screens they no longer required. I would set it to blank with password in no more then 5 minutes. The less the user does to the system the longer it will last and the less you as an admin have to run around like a chook without head. Work place is for working. Group policy is the tool and if your organisation uses same workstations create a ghost image that can by pushed out every so often to refresh the OS and remove all garbage from workstations. Here in school this is absolute must as students will damage what they can if allowed.

        • #3155606

          Set it to NONE

          by leilani ·

          In reply to Group policy required

          “Blank” is still a screensaver. Change it to None 🙂

    • #3141489

      Wish After Dark was still around…

      by the admiral ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      I turned off the Windows XP screen saver because it was easily hacked. I instead installed an old version of After Dark and it locked up my PC much better than the default savers.

    • #3141454

      Over here

      by too old for it ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      Wallpaper is up to the user. Corporate screensaver (basically the corporate logo that bounces around).

      Works for some 10,500 machines.

    • #3270896

      We have a secure website with approved

      by j.lupo ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      screen savers and wall paper, You have to log in to the site and you can’t save it really. But it does set your screen saver and wallpaper.

      So it is definitely controlled and limited.

    • #3143069

      Yes we lock it down!

      by it cowgirl ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      We use Win XP and have a set of company pictures which are used as the screen saver. GPO locks down all machines.

    • #3284074

      Here’s your solution …

      by bob_steel ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      Choose an OS with a nice black and green text-only screen. No more problems.

      Lock it down or you’ll spend your life running around fixing PC’s. It’s work, employees are happy because they get job satisfaction and get paid well – not because they are allowed to spend works time re-sizing pictures of Fido to go on their screens and make the workplace look untidy.

    • #3204122

      Unlocking in multi-user environment

      by admingurl ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy

      In a multiuser environment enabling a password protected screensaver often leaves many computers tied up. Users often resort to simply powering off the computer. To solve this problem, I want to give certain users the ability to unlock the computer. I don’t want to give these users administrative access.

      So far, the only solution I have found was a third party product called Unlock Administrator ( ). This product allows you to assign which users can unlock a system (either a full unlock or forcing the current session to close). Regular users can unlock using thier Windows username and password.

      I am sure many others have the same problem. Does anyone have a better solution?

    • #2587209


      by eryasir2001 ·

      In reply to Screen saver/ wall paper policy


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