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Extension Technology and
Computer Services


University of Missouri-Columbia   Extension Technology and Computer Services—ETCS

November 1999
  Vol. 16, No. 9

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists



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Screen Savers, Pictures, and Wallpaper
by Joe Lear

As we've been virtually visiting all the county offices over the last month, we've noticed that people love to customize their computer screens by adding wallpaper, screen savers and even pictures from the Web or pictures they scanned or took with the digital camera. While these features allow you to make the computer workspace your own, they can also rob you of processor power and other computer resources. It also makes it harder for us at ETCS to help you with the new SMS software that allows us to remote control your computer.

If you use a screen saver, have you ever tried to download a file from the Web or S:\ drive, Run ScanDisk or Disk Defragmenter, and wondered why it took so long or restarted every time you stopped your screen saver? Some screen savers take up almost 50% of your computer processor power. When you're trying to do things that take longer than the startup period for your screen saver, the screen saver kicks in and it interrupts what the computer is doing. It also slows the computer down by taking over memory resources, the hard drive, and some of the processor speed. This can restart scandisk and disk defragmenter causing them to take longer to run. Also, files take longer to copy from the Web and to and from the S:\ drive when screen savers kick in.

Screen Savers had a role to play when computer monitors were monochrome and more prone to image burn in. They kept things on the screen moving and prevented images from being permanently etched on the screen. Today's monitors don't have the burn in problems so now screen savers are mainly for entertainment and decoration. We recommend disabling the screen saver and see if your computer works faster.

While Wallpaper and pictures allow you to personalize your desktop, they also can rob you of computer performance. We have noticed that some computer wallpaper and images may be causing some of the computers to run slowly and to have other problems. Removing the wallpaper and/or image has solved the problem.

Wallpaper and images also can impair our ability to help you using the new remote control software SMS. Since we actually see your screen on our computer after you allow us access, our computers have to refresh the screen image on a regular basis at our end. Images and wallpaper increase the time it takes for changes in your screen to occur. For some images and wallpaper this can be up to 2 minutes. Therefore it takes us longer to help you and decreases the amount of time that you have to be productive on the computer.

Try turning your wallpaper and/or graphics off and see if it makes a difference in your computer's performance. If you want to keep your wallpaper and images, let us know when we call to assist you that you have them and we'll walk you through turning them off while we assist you using the remote control software. We'll also help you turn them back on so you can keep your personal workspace. Also if you want assistance making your scanned images on your desktop smaller in file size, give us a call and we will help you reduce the image file size so it will reduce the amount of resources it uses when on your screen.

We want you to be able to personalize your desktop, but not at the price of reducing your ability to get your work done on the computer at the computer's highest performance.



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