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Why does Vista screen saver not come on?

Posted on 2012-04-08
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Last Modified: 2012-04-10
I'm running Vista Home Premium 64bit.  I have 4 monitors.  They use to sleep but now never do.  The screen saver doesn't come on either.  My settings are:

Screen saver: 30 min(blank)
Display sleep: 45 min
Computer sleep: 2 hours

Vista updates have been applied.  Besides running one application at a time, how do I figure out what is causing this?
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Question by:brettr
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 37822113
Does the machine still go into Sleep mode?

Task Manager might give you an indication of the program or process stopping the screen saver.
http://www.mistywindow.com/windows-utilities/task-manager/

To dig even deeper try Process Monitor:
http://www.mistywindow.com/windows-utilities/process-monitor/
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Author Comment

by:brettr
ID: 37822119
No - it doesn't go into sleep.  I don't think it ever did.

How do either of those programs help in identifying any possible problem program?
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 37822201
Task Manger tells you what's running. You may spot a running program you didn't know about that's persuading Vista that the monitor is stil in use.

Process Monitor goes a step further. I gives a continual real time display of all running processes.
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 37822206
A couple of suggestions here which may help:
http://tinyurl.com/72r8833

When using Task Manager, you can "kill" running programs (one, or several at a time) and wait to see if the screensaver activates. It won't allow you to kill anything vital.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37822569
from    http://www.pcreview.co.uk/forums/screen-saver-does-not-come-t515454.html

An application that is running in the background may prevent Windows
from entering the idle mode. Check your startup settings to find out
what is causing this. Applications that start with Windows can be
found here:
- the WIN.INI, section [windows], entries "run=" and "load="
- the Registry keys
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices
- the folders
C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\ALL USERS\START MENU\PROGRAMS\STARTUP
C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\{username}\START MENU\PROGRAMS\STARTUP
See also "How to Troubleshoot By Using the Msconfig Utility in Windows
XP" (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=310560) and "How to Perform a
Clean Boot in Windows XP" (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=310353).
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Assisted Solution

by:Jim-R
Jim-R earned 50 total points
ID: 37824244
From the Author's comments, I believe the approach using the MSCONFIG tool suggested by nobus is the way to go here.

The clean boot should keep any possible background programs that may be foiling the screensaver from starting up.  Then it is a matter of the process of elimination to discover which program was the culprit.  This can be time consuming because a restart is required after each program is re-enabled with the MSCONFIG tool, but unfortunately, this can not be avoided.  You may choose a group of programs and or NON-Microsoft services to re-enable which should somewhat speed up the process, but it could be one or more items causing the issue.

Should none of the programs seem to be the culprit, some devices (hardware) can have settings that can either keep a machine "awake" or allow it to sleep.  In "Device Manager" (found in the Control Panel), devices in the list such as the network card, modem, mouse, keyboard and the like can have an "allow" option when it comes to "power savings" and an "allow" option to "wake" the computer.  Look at the Properties of each device while checking for a "Power Management" TAB and look at the subsequent settings on that TAB.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37826379
also - if your problem is recent, a system restore can help you out
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Author Comment

by:brettr
ID: 37828455
Seems like there is a time component to this.  I backed the screensaver down from 30 minutes to 20 and it works every time so far.  I can only test it during the evenings since I use the machine all day.  The monitor off mode doesn't seem to ever kick in though, which happen after 45 minutes.  But I guess this is still an app issue?
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37828644
is this an in built screensaver, or 3rd party one?  they may have settings of their own
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Author Comment

by:brettr
ID: 37828675
The one that comes with Vista.
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Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 450 total points
ID: 37828700
Then i suppose the Vista is corrupted; run sfc, or a repair install  :
      http://vistasupport.mvps.org/system_file_checker.htm            SFC in Vista
      http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial148.html      repair Vista

it can also be caused by malware -  if that is possible, run MBAM : http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
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Author Comment

by:brettr
ID: 37829547
@nobus:

Thanks.  I removed three malware programs using malwarebytes.  Screensaver then display sleep both work on first try.  I'm going to give it another day then post back or accept answer.

@vallis:

I was already aware of those suggestions and was looking for a more efficient method of finding the problem app than just trial and error with 98 processes.
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Author Closing Comment

by:brettr
ID: 37829830
This continues to work fine.  Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37831265
tx for the feedback !
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