2 weeks ago at home, I received a notification from Geforce Experience that my Nvidia Drivers had a new version. Since I regularly install and play new games, I decided to install this driver update. After the clean install and a reboot, my wifi dongle (DLink, AC compatible, can't link it because the website doesn't work) wasn't recognized anymore, even after removing and reseating. It showed the PC icon with an ethernet plug and a red X in the taskbar, instead of the normal 5 pylons.
I reinstalled the drivers and rebooted, and after this reboot, it worked again.
Then, last week, after a game launcher didn't use my default browser to open the website, I ended up having to remove a registry value because changing the default action for .url files broke my steam shortcuts. After this reboot, my shortcuts worked again, but my dongle failed again. I didn't reinstall the drivers this time, but I rebooted again and it worked again.
I don't know why an update in my registry would cause my dongle to malfunction until reboot. Does anyone have an idea why this happened?
EDIT with additional information:
The driver update for the GPU was from Geforce 331.93 (R331 Beta - WHQL) to 332.21 (release, WHQL).
The drivers for the wifi dongle were the default drivers that came with the disk, I don't know the exact version number.
The registry change was removing the entire folder for the .url extension from
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts manually, then rebooting.