Dead Pixel on Monitor

Category: Hardware

Sometimes that tiny spot on your monitor screen just won't come off, no matter how you scrub. That may be because it's not dirt but a dead or stuck pixel. Dead pixels are as annoying as flyspecks when you're trying to read a screen. Is there anything you can do to avoid dead pixels and their opposites - stuck pixels that remain too bright?

dead pixel

How to Fix a Dead Pixel

A pixel is like a tiny light bulb that can illuminate with one or more colors. Just like a light bulb, a pixel can burn out, leaving a dark spot on your screen. A pixel can also become stuck in the "on" position, injecting light that is too bright or the wrong color into your on-screen view. There are millions of pixels in a monitor screen, so inevitably some leave the factory defective in one way or the other. It's a good idea to test a monitor for defective pixels before you buy it.

Retailers don't make it easy to detect defective pixels in their showrooms. Generally, they put some complex image on the screens to attract interest and show off the monitor's capabilities. But to detect defective pixels you really need a totally blank screen that can change from one color to another. Color-changing allows you to spot pixels that are defective in just one color.

InjuredPixels is a simple, small program that runs a dead pixel test by displaying a blank screen in multiple colors. Run it on your current monitor or download it to a USB thumb drive and take it with you when you shop. Test the actual monitor you plan to bring home, if at all possible, or run InjuredPixel as soon as you install the monitor and check for bad pixels. InjuredPixels won't fix a dead pixel, but there is another tool that may help.

Fixing a Dead, Stuck or White Pixel

A stuck pixel shows up as a spot on the screen where color doesn't belong, particularly a bright dot on an image that is supposed to be totally black. It could be a black pixel, a white pixel, or some random colored one. Pixels stuck in the "on" position often come unstuck after a time as electricity is turned on and off to the stuck pixel during normal operation. You can sometimes hasten the "jarring loose" of a stuck pixel with JScreenFix, a free Java application that rapidly exercises a screen's pixels.

I ran JScreenFix on an LCD monitor of mine that had three stuck pixels near the center of the screen -- one red, one green and one white pixel. After a few false starts, I discovered that you have to disable the screensaver AND temporarily disable the setting in Control Panel / Power Options that turns off the screen after a specified number of minutes. After letting JScreenFix do it's thing for an hour or so, the white pixel was fixed (gone) but the other two persisted. Your mileage may (hopefully) vary.

I've also read that turning an LCD screen off and back on, while putting a little pressure on the affected area, will sometimes fix a stuck pixel. The theory goes that somehow this will slosh around the "liquid" part of the liquid crystal, and unstick whatever is stuck in there. It sounded a bit hokey to me, but I tried it anyway, using my fingertip and also a pencil eraser to apply pressure to the spot with the nixed pixels. No luck there, either.

Burn-in is another occasional pixel problem. If you leave a particular pattern or image on a screen long enough, it persists after you switch images. Basically, pixels left on long enough get stuck in the on position, or do not shut off completely. The purpose of screensaver programs is to keep shifting the images on a screen so that burn-in does not occur. JScreenFix can also mitigate burn-in, although it may not eliminate it totally.

Defective pixels of all kinds are a subtle nuisance. It's best to avoid buying a defective monitor; use screensavers; and periodically check your screen for defective pixels that you can fix. If your monitor is still under warranty, and the problem annoys you that much, check and see if it can be replaced by the manufacturer.

Do you have something to say about dead pixels? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Dead Pixel on Monitor"

Posted by:

24 Feb 2010

Before you buy a new monitor, search the OEM website for its policy re warranty replacement for hot or dead pixels. If you can't find it on the website, send an e-mail to their support group for the answer. If they decline to answer, send an e-mail to the OEM sales department for the information. In general, I've found the more you pay for a monitor, the better its quality control and useful life. Of course I have no valid #s to back that up, just statistically invalid personal experience.

Posted by:

Zeke Krahlin
24 Feb 2010

Screen burn-in is back? For years and years, CRT monitors no longer had a burn-in risk; this was only a problem with the early models. Screen savers became a fun thing, not needed any more for its original purpose. Now, you're saying that, with LCD screens, screen burn-in danger is back in force? Jeez!

Posted by:

25 Feb 2010

This is the first time I have heard that our current LCD monitors are susceptible to "burn in"... Everyone else (well at least everyone that I have read) indicates that screen-savers aren't necessary like they were with the CRT monitors. Out of curiosity - how long is "long enough" that you mentioned???

EDITOR'S NOTE: It's more correctly called Image Persistence on LCD screens, but it can happen.

Posted by:

Ravi Agrawal
26 Feb 2010

Nothing much to say here. Just avoid a monitor with dead pixels or live with it. Dead pixels are really dead and there is no fix for that.

One reason for the high pricing of LCD monitors is that dead pixels cannnot be ruled out in a manufacturing process. This results in more wasted units which add (or push to) the price of actual number of shipped units.


Posted by:

01 Mar 2010

I have my screen go to black instead of to a pretty screensaver picture. Is that good?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Can't hurt!

Posted by:

27 Jan 2011

I adjusted the pixels and it made my screen blank out. I can't see to change it back!Help!

EDITOR'S NOTE: How did you "adjust" the pixels?

Posted by:

27 Jan 2011

I "adjusted the pixels" when I increased the screen resolution in Display

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