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The Link between Performance, Screen Savers, and Themes

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 9/10/2008

If you choose a resource-intensive theme, your computer may perform more slowly or hang up. The same is true of some screen savers, especially if they are poorly written.

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    Choose Non-System-Intensive Screensavers

    If you’ve chosen a wacky screensaver, one that is complex, one that requires complex calculations, or one you’ve downloaded from a Web site that can’t be trusted to create efficient program code, you might be seeing the effects of running a system-intensive or poorly designed screensaver. When a screensaver is used, the computer must offer up system resources to run it. If you’re having problems with system performance, including slow response coming out of a screensaver, a screensaver that hangs or freezes up, or one that locks up the computer, you should switch to a non-system-intensive or a default Windows screensaver.

    Even some of the Windows screensavers require a lot of system resources, though. Although one of our computers worked just fine when using the Windows XP Aquarium screensaver, when we upgraded, purchasing new fish and configuring seven of them to swim around on the office Desktop, it was just too much for for our computer. It would hang up and sometimes even lock up the computer. These are common problems.

    If you’re having screensaver problems, select a screensaver that’s not so complex:

    1. Right-click an empty area of the Desktop, and then click Properties.

    2. From the Screensaver tab, select a new screensaver.

    3. Click OK.

    Note: These instructions are for XP. For Vista, right-click and choose Personalize, and click Screen Saver.

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    About Themes

    If you’re concerned about performance on your older XP machine, choose one of the default Windows XP themes, like Windows XP or Windows Classic. Other themes may use more resources with their fancy sounds and other amenities. However, if you’re in it for the simple pleasure of having a nice background, screensaver, mouse pointer, colors, and interface, and if you have plenty of resources, by all means, browse for and choose a theme!

    Here’s how to explore additional themes and install them:

    1. Right-click an empty area of the Desktop and click Properties.

    2. From the Themes tab, use the drop-down list to see the available themes. If you’ve purchased and installed Microsoft Plus! or other software, you might have some already. If you only have the default themes, click More Themes Online, and click OK.

    3. Browse through the information.

    Tip: We’ll suggest you stay away from themes unless you have a screaming computer with resources that you don’t need. Even our best computer gets sluggish when we apply one!