A screen saver is a program that displays images - or
even nothing at all - when your monitor hasn't been used for a certain period
In general, screen savers will prolong your monitor's life and help
you avoid screen-burn (ie having an image burned into your monitor
screen because the same image has been displayed for too long).
Screen burn is something that used to be a big problem with early cathode
ray tube monitors but is far less of a problem with today's flat-screen
LCD monitors, which don't produce images via phosphors.
As a result, most screen savers in use today have more of a decorative
or entertainment function more than a practical one.
Nonetheless, some quite practical uses that screen savers can still be put
providing rudimentary security for PCs (eg: asking a user to enter
a password before allowing them to resume work)
activating a useful background task (such as a virus scan or a distributed
computing application like the SETI@home project). This is convenient because
these applications only use resources when the computer would be otherwise
delivering real time images and/or data on computer displays (some
applications have now been developed which will display live weather, news
headlines or traffic data on computer screens).
Windows comes supplied with a variety of screen savers, and you can
set which one will be displayed and the inactivity period after which the
screen saver will kick in through your Control Panel (this is generally
found in Start > Control Panel > Display > Screen Saver).
However, many people find Windows screen savers dull and prefer to use their
own instead. So they either build their own using a
Screen Saver Maker or download
one from the many that are freely available on the Net.
Unfortunately, some screen savers on the Net can be infected with
adware, spyware, viruses or other malware. So downloading
and/or installing new screen savers without adequate protection can
be a fast road to ruin. In 2006, for example,
BBC reported that "screensavers" and "free screensavers" respectively
were the first and third most likely search terms to return
links to malware
Because of this, we recommend that you use trusted screen saver sites
that either distribute the files off their own servers or
pre-emptively scan the screen savers they review, rather than from
anonymous sites (though movie web sites which make screen savers available
to promote their movies are a pretty safe bet).
Here's our quick guide to 8 of the best and most trustworthy screen
saver mega-sites on the Net. Between them, they'll easily give you more than
2,000 unique, often beautiful and completely free screen-savers to