toaster Simply put, a screensaver is a program that your computer runs when your mouse and keyboard have been idle for a certain amount of time.  It often displays pictures or moving text.   Note: the term, screensaver should not be confused with your wall paper, which is the background for your desktop.   In this post, we’ll take a quick look at screensavers and we’ll answer the question, who cares?

The purpose of a screensaver is… ready for this?…saving your screen.   Here’s the idea.  The screensaver displays different and/or moving images or text so that the screen is not displaying the exact same thing for an extended period of time.  So how does that save the screen?

Older CRT‘s, especially the monochrome variety, were susceptible to phosphor burn-in.  Basically, when the same image or text was displayed for an extended period of time, the phosphors in the monitor would literally cause a discoloration of the glass screen.  This would produce a faint overlay of the image or text when you were viewing something else.  You may have noticed this on older public screens like ATM’s or library catalogs.  As you withdraw your money or search for your book, you can still see a faint image of the initial screen.

So what are the concerns now days?  Advances in CRT technology have greatly reduced a screen’s susceptibility to burn-in, and LCD monitors are immune from this phenomenon all together.  Also, today, most computers have power management options which will stop sending signal to the monitor, or even tell the monitor to shut down.  For these reasons, screensaver functionality is now primarily just aesthetic.

So the answer to this post’s title question is no.  You don’t need to be concerned about your screen’s health if you fail to turn on the screen saver.

[NOTE:  Should you manage to damage your screen by somehow burning an image into it, please keep in mind that this post is for entertainment purposes only, and does not purport to offer any technological advice.  Any liability by the author or HTIPE is disclaimed.  Reading this paragraph constitutes your legal agreement to hold the author and HTIPE free of any liability for damages caused to your computer screen.  Too late, you’ve already read it–can’t go back now.  Furthermore, you stipulate that HTIPE is a great little blog and you promise to tell your friends to come check it out.]

Further Reading

Put “screensaver” into your favorite search engine and see what comes up.