Windows comes with a safeguard to prevent this from happening. Such as a dialog that pops up asking you if you want to accept the new settings to the monitor after you change it. If you answer Yes it will save the settings, if you answer No it will revert to the previous setting (or if you don't answer the dialog in 15 seconds).
Although for some reason if your monitor gets locked into a refresh setting that it doesn't support. For example, when changing out an old monitor with a new monitor that doesn't support the older resolution settings.
There is a way to force Windows to startup in a lower resolution to correct this problem. This feature is called 'VGA mode.' When this feature is enabled, Windows will boot normally with one exception, it will use a basic VGA video driver running the monitor at 640 x 480 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate.
To access the VGA mode option :
- Restart your computer, and press F8 repeatedly as your computer boots
- On the 'Windows Advanced Options Menu', select 'Enable VGA mode' and press the Enter key.