Posted tagged ‘Troubleshooting’

Monitor Changes to Non-default Resolution on reboot–caused by startup service

September 20, 2011

I had an issue with a monitor changing resolution on reboot a little while ago. Hopefully anybody having a similar error will find this post useful as a guide to finding the issue.

I’ve been running dual monitors for some time. When I’m working on remote systems, it’s great to be able to have a remote system on one screen and my local PC on the other. Using 2 screens takes a bit of getting used to at first, but then you never want to go back.

At the beginning of 2011, I bought myself a new monitor. It was 24”, 16×9, 1920 x 1080, adjustable height and came with VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs. The other monitor I was using was an older 19”  4×3 monitor that I used as the primary screen. I got everything setup and was very happy with all the extra screen real estate I had.

But I noticed that every time I rebooted the PC (which wasn’t often at that time), the new monitor would end up at less than the default resolution. I had to go in and manually adjust the resolution up to 1920 x 1080 from the 1680 x 1050 that it kept defaulting to. I assumed it was a driver or hardware issue. I updated to the latest drivers for my video card and made sure I was using the proper .inf file for the monitor.

The problem didn’t go away.

Internet searches produced a lot of hits about people having trouble with monitor resolution changing after a reboot of Windows 7, but nothing conclusive about how to fix it. Most of the suggestions related to drivers which I had already tried. So I started to wonder if it was some kind of issue due to having a mix of 4×3 and 16×9 monitors, or maybe a problem with the video card.

So one day when I’d had enough, I decided to try and solve the problem once and for all. I changed video cards – Didn’t help. I went down to only one monitor (the new 24” Monitor) – it got worse! Now it was changing to 1280 x 1024. At this point it was difficult to keep blaming it on hardware or drivers.

One of the things I noticed with all this testing – when the PC first rebooted and the Welcome screen appeared, the resolution appeared to be OK. The after a couple of seconds, the resolution changed down to the other setting. This kind of got me thinking it could be a software problem. I had found one forum post from a couple of years ago where someone claimed that his issue was caused by Windows Live Messenger loading at boot. I don’t have messenger loading by default, but it at least pointed me to a startup program or service.

I loaded MSConfig and selected a diagnostic startup. This disables all startup programs and non-essential services.


When the PC rebooted, the resolution didn’t change. Hmmm!

The recommended procedure for this kind of troubleshooting is that you go back into msconfig and enable one item at a time, reboot and see if the problem appears. When it does, it’s likely that the last item you enabled caused the problem.

I don’t have that much patience. So I had a look at the various items to see if anything looked suspicious. One thing jumped out based on the forum post I mentioned – “Windows Live Mesh remote connections service”. I seem to recall that I installed windows Live Mesh somewhere around the same time as I got the new monitor.

Since a lot of stuff wasn’t running well with all those services and startup items disabled, I enabled all of them except Windows Live Mesh remote connections service and rebooted. Much to my delight, the monitor came up in the proper default resolution.

Just to be sure, I enabled Windows Live Mesh remote connections service and rebooted. The monitor changed resolution a couple of seconds after the Welcome screen appeared. I disabled the service again and have never looked back.

I use Windows Live Mesh on this PC but I don’t use it for Remote Access. So I never looked any further. But when I was putting this post together, I decided to have another look. I went into the services snap in and enabled Windows Live Mesh remote connections service. The resolution on my wide screen monitor changed to 1280 x 1024. (AT this point I have the widescreen as the primary monitor on the left and the 4×3 19”monitor on the right). The 19” monitor was running at it’s default resolution of 1280 x 1024.

Knowing the cause of the problem, I could do a more targeted internet search. I found an entry on the Microsoft Answers site that solved the issue. It pointed to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Live Mesh\Remote Desktop\DisplayDevices\DEVICE0. Not surprisingly, the key fields are width and height.

In my case, I had an entry for Device0 and Device1. Device0 was set for a width and height of 1280 x 1024 and Device1 was set for 1680 x 1050. As I recall, when I originally installed Live Mesh, I was running the 19’ as the Primary monitor and I had a 22’ that had a resolution of 1680 x1050. I edited the Device0 entry and changed the width to 1920 and the height to 1080.

resolution change 1

Then I did the device 1 entry. It was set for 1680 x 1050, but I guess since that was higher than the default resolution of the monitor, it stayed at it’s default. I changed it the width and height to 1280 and 1024.

resolution change 2

I also changed the “x” value from 1024 to 1980. I assume the x and y values are the offset for the second monitor which I have configured as an extension of the desktop to the right of the primary monitor. I haven’t been able to test this since I don’t have another setup with a similar monitor arrangement.

I’ve left the Windows Live Mesh remote connections service disabled since, as I mentioned before, I don’t use it for remote access to this PC. I did test starting and stopping the service several times and there is no resolution change now.