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COM Surrogate Has Stopped Working – What Is It & How to Fix It?

There are two kinds of computer users: curious ones and not-so-curious ones. If you fall into the former, you are likely to play around with the system very often. You always want to discover each aspect of your computer because of the curiosity. When you play around with all those features, you are likely to experience some issues, probably with some notifications. One of the common notifications you might get as a result of those tweaks is ‘COM surrogate has stopped working.’ What is COM surrogate? Why does such a message pop up? Let’s find it out.

PS: here, you will learn more about why is Windows 10 so slow and how to fix some of the most commonUSB connectivity issues, as well as how to fix the Last USB Device Malfunctioned on Windows 10 easily.


What is COM surrogate?

COM surrogate can be found running on the task manager of your Windows PC. In general, this process comes with the file name dllhost.exe. All the versions, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and older, play host to the processes of COM surrogate. With that said, what is COM surrogate? What can you do with it? How to fix the issue?

In fact, the term ‘COM‘ in ‘COM object‘ is an acronym. It stands for Component Object Model. And, it is an interface of Microsoft, and it was introduced back in the early ’90s. The purpose of adding COM interfaces and objects to other applications is to extend them. This interface was developed with several programming languages as well. If you need an example, think of the Windows File Manager. It uses the aforesaid COM objects and builds thumbnails. As a result, users can see the folders clearly and open them conveniently. COM object becomes exceptionally important when it comes to processing videos, graphics, and any other file that generate thumbnails. As a result of using these thumbnails, ‘File Explorer‘ can even extend their compatibility, so they support new codecs.

Regardless of the usefulness of COM Object, it can create plenty of hassles when it crashes. When a crash takes place, the COM object can terminate the host process no matter how important it is. And, it will affect the entire windows explorer process if it happens when you are in the middle of a very important task, needless to say, how annoying it is. In a nutshell, such an issue could be the last thing you want to experience.

To resolve this issue, Microsoft has offered a solution in the form of a process called COM surrogate. As per this solution, Windows runs COM objects without affecting the original process. The original process means the process that runs on the COM object command on your system. So, if COM object crashes, the COM object will not be terminated. Instead, COM surrogate process will be terminated. In order to get a better understanding of such an instance, let’s take a look at an example.

In fact, Windows Explorer starts a COM surrogate process in order to generate thumbnails of the specific images. COM surrogate works as the host to a COM object, which is initially designed solely to run that task. So, if COM object crashes while the process is carried out, original File Explorer will keep running. COM surrogate will crash instead of the COM object. So, that will not hinder the normal functionality of the computer.


How to differentiate a COM surrogate hosting?

Indeed, the Windows Task Manager doesn’t let you know which is COM surrogate hosting. However, you will be able to get the information simply by installing the Process Explorer tool of Microsoft. With this software, you will be able to access exactly which COM object or DLL file does the hosting.


Can you disable it?

One of the most popular questions asked by many users is whether they can stop the COM surrogate process. The truth is that you cannot disable it. That is because COM surrogate is an essential part of your operating system, and therefore, it must be functioning. Without COM surrogate, your computer will not give its optimal performance. In addition to that, COM surrogate allows you to see thumbnails, especially when opening folders. Other programs can use the same to create various processes, which are also essential. You must remember that other programs initiated all those dllhost.exe files on the computer. That is done to execute a process.


Is it a virus?

Most of the computer users indeed experience this issue with COM surrogate. However, you must remember that COM surrogate is not a virus or any other malware. Instead, we recognize it as an essential part of the operating system of your computer (Windows). However, there are instances in which COM surrogate can be affected with specific malware. As a result, the entire operating system can become a mess. But, still, that is not an issue related to COM surrogate.

Identifying if a virus infects COM surrogate is not that difficult as one might think. Do you see a large number of dllhost.exe processes on your computer? And, do they consume a significant amount of system resources like CPU? In that case, you must know that a virus infects COM surrogate.


COM surrogate has stopped working. How to fix it?

Now that you have a substantial awareness about COM surrogate. Let’s move forward with the big question. In fact, the main intention of writing this article is to let you know how to fix the issue. In other words, in this section, we explain how to fix ‘COM surrogate has stopped working’ issue. There is more than one method to solve this issue, depending on the cause. You can go through the methods carefully and choose what’s best for you and try it.

Solution 01: Uninstall specific programs

Some software programs can cause COM surrogate error on your computer system. Although those programs are completely innocent and useful, they can cause such error and make things difficult for you. Some of the software tools in Adobe package (CS in particular) can cause this issue as we have learned. For instance, Adobe Photoshop CS3 is reported to be a common culprit behind this error. In addition to that, Nero 8 has a bad reputation for such an error. However, that doesn’t mean that Photoshop CS3 and Nero 8 are the only programs that cause this error. There can be various other programs that might trigger COM surrogate error.

There are several ways to figure out the culprit. If you experience COM surrogate error right after installing a new program, that program should be a prime suspect. So, try to uninstall the respective program, give your computer a reboot and check if the problem is gone. If the problem has occurred all of a sudden, uninstall the newest tool you have installed on the computer. In most of the cases, however, uninstalling Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Nero 8 would solve the issue.

As we have noticed, COM surrogate issue ‘favors‘ Windows 64-bit systems compared to 32-bit systems. That means COM surrogate issue tends to occur more in 64-bit systems as opposed to 32-bit versions. But that doesn’t mean 32-bit systems are totally resistant to issues related COM surrogate. What we want to mention is that it appears more in 64-bit versions. If your software version is 64-bit and it is badly written, various issues can trigger and annoy you. In that case, you should download the latest 64-bit version of the same software and try it. So, be sure that you download all the third-party software in 64-bit versions and keep them updated. Such an approach will minimize the potential of experiencing the COM surrogate issue on your PC.

However, if you are not sure how to identify the software that causes the issue, what can you do? In that case, you can use Windows 7’s Reliability Monitor and identify the culprit. To do that, you should follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Go to Control panel on your Windows 7 computer.
  • Select the option labeled ‘System and Security.’
  • Then, head to the option called ‘Action Center‘ and then go to ‘Reliability Monitor.’
  • If not, you can simply key in the text ‘reliability monitor‘ within the search box. It can be found at the top-right corner of your screen.
  • Then, you can click on the option called ‘View All Problem Reports.’ This is located towards the bottom of the screen. Then, you will be able to see the screen titles ‘Problem History‘.

  • Now, you should find the crash report that comes with COM surrogate within the source. Then, to view the report, you should right-click on it and choose ‘View Technical Details.’
  • Check the entry that comes with ‘Fault Module Name‘ because that tells you what the problematic program is.

There are some reports about Kaspersky Internet Security software saying that it causes COM surrogate issue. If that is the case with you, you can simply whitelist dllhost.exe for Kaspersky. That means you have to add it to the exclusions list on Kaspersky Internet Security. If you are experiencing the same issue with another virus guard, you can simply try whitelisting dllhost.exe.

We have also come to know that ffdshow codec packs can cause this issue. If you suspect that it as the reason behind the issue, just try to download the latest version, if not, you can simply uninstall the existing codec pack to see if the problem is resolved. Also, don’t forget to uninstall the codec packs such as K-Lite if you have already installed them. If not, you can reinstall a fresh copy of the latest codec pack to replace it.

In fact, updating codecs have already helped many individuals to overcome this issue. If you see the message ‘COM surrogate has stopped working’, just give the codecs an update, as mentioned earlier. This can be one of the easiest ways to resolve the COM surrogate issue. In addition to that, if you have DivX installed on the computer, we suggest you update it. Updating all those codecs into the latest version can solve the COM surrogate and ensure better media performance too.

Solution 02: Turn off Data Execution Prevention or Add Exception

There is another way to solve this issue, and it requires you to turn off DEP (Data Execution Prevention). If not, you should add an exception to it. This can be done in your Windows computer and to start the process, just right-click on ‘My Computer.’ Then, go to ‘Properties.’ Click on the option labeled ‘Advanced System Settings.’ Then, click on the ‘Advanced‘ tab and then go to ‘Settings‘, which is located under the ‘Performance‘ section.

Finally, click on Data Execution Prevention and click on Turn on DEP for all programs except those I select and add dllhost.exe to the list.

Solution 03: Disable the thumbnails

If the problem is still persisting, you should try this method as well and see what happens. As per this method, you should try to disable the thumbnail previews on your system. Various individuals have succeeded with this method. Even if it works, we should remind you that it is not a permanent fix. However, it can offer you some relief at least an occasional basis.

Solution 04: Register the DLLs again

Registering the DLLs once again can be another fix if COM surrogate has stopped working. What we should tell you is that this method is easier than it may sound. You can follow the steps mentioned below to complete this method and solve the COM surrogate issue.

  • Click on the Windows button and type CMD in the search field to find the command prompt.
  • Then, you should click on the command prompt to open it.
  • Once the command prompt window is opened, you should type the following commands. Make sure that you hit enter after each line.
  • regsvr32 vbscript.dll
  • regsvr32 jscript.dll

Many users have succeeded with this method.


So, that’s our article about ‘what is COM surrogate?‘ and how to solve ‘COM surrogate has stopped working‘ issue. If you have further questions, please do let us know.

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