Dealing With Problematic Windows Updates

April 15, 2013

Someone posted a comment on a previous post and I thought it was a question that I should also pass along to all readers as the answer can be quite important.

First, let’s look at the question:

for the past 2 nights my computer has done an automatic update. in the morning, everything on my computer is smaller! desktop icons, folders, fonts, email, everything!! can anyone tell me why? what to do? I keep having to restore to 3 days ago…

Let’s first talk about whether it is a good idea to even have updates install automatically. Microsoft certainly wants it to be automatic because many users will never take the time to install them otherwise. First, you’ll want the settings in the Windows Update Control Panel. By default, the first setting is set to “Install updates automatically (recommended)”. You’ll see my settings and those that I recommend below.
Windows Update Frequency
If you change your settings as I suggest, you will need to be proactive about checking available updates and installing them. This also allows you to wait a few days to install them as I suggested in When Should You Install Windows Updates?

OK, so that addresses the first part of the question where the automatic updates were causing the problem. The next part of the question is to determine which update is causing the problem. Often multiple updates will be installed at once. If you install them manually, you can install them individually to determine which one is the troublemaker.

Given the problems caused by the update, my guess is that the troublemaker is an updated video driver. If you are getting updated video drivers from Microsoft, you are getting an outdated driver. You should be checking with the manufacturer of your video card (or hardware) for the latest drivers. This was discussed in Faulty Drivers Often the Cause of Windows Instability.

And since the complaint is that the “size” of elements on screen is changing, my guess is that the updated video driver changed the monitor resolution to the correct setting of the native resolution. I can’t stress enough that running an LCD at any resolution other than the native resolution is a very bad thing. Please read Monitor Resolution and Monitor Size Both Important for a detailed explanation.

In this case, we’re talking about screen elements being “too small.” Many of those elements can be displayed at a different setting if you simply change the defaults. That way you can run your monitor at the correct resolution and have the elements at the size you desire.

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