Shall I turn the monitor off or use a screensaver?

Martin Brinkmann
May 24, 2008
Updated • Jan 5, 2013

There is still some confusion about the use of screensavers and I would like to explain it to those who do not know if it makes more sense to use a screensaver or to turn off the monitor. Screensavers were invented in a time to prevent phosphor burn-ins from images that were displayed for a long time on the monitor. They made sure that the image on the screen changed frequently to eliminate the chance of a burn-in.

Today's monitors however are not prone to those burn-ins which makes screensavers for that purpose obsolete. If you want to save energy you should therefor turn off the monitor. I have set the Energy Saving options to turn off the monitor after fifteen minutes of inactivity but you can do it manually as well if you prefer that or change the interval to a longer or smaller time frame instead.

Moving the mouse turns the monitor on again and work can resume afterwards. Screensavers these days serve mainly two purposes. The first is entertainment. A wide variety of possibilities exist including video screensavers, virtual tours or graphic demos that look pretty when they are playing on the monitor, and if you like that, you may stick to screensavers for that purpose. There are certain locations, a computer shop for instance, where using screensavers may make sense as it is better than a line of black monitor screens that do not reveal any information about the monitor.

The second is a basic protection of the computer which can be configured to ask for the user password before work can commence. While it does not protect the PC overly well, it may keep some users from accessing your PC while you are away.

How is your computer configured to handle inactivity?


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  1. Vik said on March 9, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I have a CRT monitor. Will turning the monitor off act as a screensaver? Is it okay to to disable the screensaver and just have the monitor turn off?

    1. Martin said on March 9, 2010 at 1:10 am

      It is actually always better to turn off the computer monitor as you save power doing so.

  2. danny said on June 15, 2009 at 5:23 am

    ive got a probleme…… i set my screen saver off….and my power setting to perfomance…pist off to get my screen become black evritime listening a movie ….. so the probleme is ! after turning evrything off my screen still coming black again after 10 minut…:( ???? im using the crapy vista!…send me answer on

  3. Marc-O said on May 26, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I use the incredible electric sheep (scientific) screensaver. That’s true, I don’t need a screensaver, but some are just too plain good to pass on.

  4. Declan said on May 25, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I just turn off the monitor manually. I don’t like turning it off automatically, because if I ever need to leave it on without using the mouse or keyboard (watching etc.) I have to change the settings.

  5. Justin said on May 24, 2008 at 7:09 am

    I turn off my monitor and disable the screensaver. There’s no point to play screensaver on my LCD monitor…

  6. MrD666 said on May 24, 2008 at 7:04 am

    I have always used the 20 minute setting, as I have found that I can usually resume my usage (if distracted or having to leave for example) before 20 minutes. My wife ABSOLUTELY detests me doing this, using the setting to turn off the monitor and bitches EVERY SINGLE TIME, for which now I no longer care to listen about. Regardless I had the same old, outdated CRT monitor from 1998, until 2005 on my test machine (which was running 365/24/7 REALLY this box was never turned off, as it only went off during a power surge), and I used this monitor for everything. I believe it was due to the power saving option. I’m doing it now with my ASUS 19 inch LCD too.

  7. Jonathan said on May 24, 2008 at 6:57 am

    No screen saver, just turn off the monitor at night. Another option would be to use a program written by Steve Gibson called wizmo. It is free at and can shut off monitors(energy save mode), activate screen saver, restart the PC, shutdown windows.

  8. Annon said on May 24, 2008 at 4:09 am

    i just turn off the monitor

  9. Starboykb said on May 24, 2008 at 2:31 am

    I usually just turn off my monitor manually when not used or torrent. However, i do find that using the Window to configure energy saving will cause problem and damage the monitor itself in the future. I am experience with such problem and seen many CRT monitor become like that, but im not sure about the LCD these days.

  10. Rarst said on May 24, 2008 at 2:29 am

    You forgot third option – screensavers that are doing some computing (those distributed projects) or just local computer stuff (like defragmentation).

    I have my two monitors to stand by after 2 hours. Less time doesn’t work for me cause I can be nearby and not torturing my pc (reading or something) but still want to see what’s going on. If I go away or to sleep I usually turn them off manually (I don’t turn off computer itself, it acts as kinda lonely home server)… In truth that stand by is only useful if I fall asleep with book. :)

    btw it seems that recent middle-upper class Asus motherboards (don’t follow other brands closely, these one are one of the most popular around here and competing gigabyte ones totally suck lately) have curious “AI Nap” function that can put not only usual components to standby but almost all of them like video card, sound card… while keeping disks and network up.

    It would be interesting to try that when I bother to upgrade (which is extremely rare since I stopped playing games).

  11. Todorov said on May 24, 2008 at 1:16 am

    It’s not true that new monitors “are not prone to those burn-ins”. You can see the result on my colleague’s monitor:

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