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

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COM Surrogate

There are two kinds of computer users: curious ones and not-so-curious ones. If you fall into the former, you will likely play around with the system very often. You always want to discover each aspect of your computer because of curiosity.

When you play around with all those features, you will likely experience some issues, probably with some notifications. One of the common notifications you might get due to those tweaks is ‘COM surrogate has stopped working.’ What is COM surrogate?

Why does such a message pop up? Let’s find it out.

COM surrogate has stopped working

What is COM surrogate?

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?

The Term ‘COM’ in ‘COM object’ is an Acronym.

It stands for Component Object Model. And it is an interface of Microsoft, which was introduced 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 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 occurs, the COM object can terminate the host process no matter how important.

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.

Microsoft has offered a solution in the form of a COM surrogate process to resolve this issue.

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 the COM object crashes, the COM object will not be terminated. Instead, COM surrogate process will be terminated. 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 to generate the specific images’ thumbnails. COM surrogate works as the host to a COM object, initially designed solely to run that task.

So, if the COM object crashes while the process is carried out, the original File Explorer will keep running. COM surrogate will crash instead of the COM object so that it will not hinder the normal functionality of the computer.

PS: here, you will learn more about why Windows 10 is so slow.

How to differentiate a COM surrogate hosting?

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

com surrogate Hosting

Can You Disable the COM Surrogate?

One of the most popular questions many users ask is whether they can stop the COM surrogate process. The truth is that you cannot disable it. That is because the COM surrogate is an essential part of your operating system and must be functioning.

Without COM surrogate, your computer will not give its optimal performance. In addition, 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 computer users indeed experience this issue with COM surrogates. However, you must remember that COM surrogate is not a virus or any other malware. Instead, we recognize it as an essential part of your computer’s operating system (Windows).

However, there are instances in which COM surrogates can be affected by specific malware. As a result, the entire operating system can become a mess. But, still, that is not an issue related to COM surrogates.

Identifying if a virus infects COM surrogate is not as 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 surrogates.

COM Surrogate Has Stopped Working. How to Fix It?

Now that you have a substantial awareness about COM surrogates. Let’s move forward with the big question. 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 the COM surrogate that 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, choose what’s best for you, and try it.

Solution 01: Uninstall Specific Programs

Some software programs can cause COM surrogate errors on your computer system. Although those programs are completely innocent and useful, they can cause such errors and make things difficult for you. As we have learned, some of the software tools in the Adobe package (CS in particular) can cause this issue.

For instance, Adobe Photoshop CS3 is reported to be a common culprit behind this error. In addition, 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 suddenly occurs, uninstall the newest tool installed on the computer. However, most cases, uninstalling Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Nero 8 would solve the issue.

As we have noticed, the COM surrogate issue ‘favors’ Windows 64-bit systems compared to 32-bit systems. That means the COM surrogate issue tends to occur more in 64-bit systems than in 32-bit versions.

But that doesn’t mean 32-bit systems are resistant to issues related to COM surrogate. What we want to mention is that it appears more in 64-bit versions.

Various issues can trigger and annoy you if your software version is 64-bit and badly written. 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, what can you do if you are unsure how to identify the software that causes the issue? 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 Action Center option and go to ‘Reliability Monitor.’
  • If not, you can simply key in the text ‘reliability monitor‘ within the search box. It can be found in the top-right corner of your screen.
  • Then, you can click on the option ‘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‘.
Reliability Monitor
View All Problem Reports
  • Now, you should find the crash report that comes with the COM surrogate within the source. Then, to view the report, you should right-click on it and choose ‘View Technical Details.’
  • Check the entry with ‘Fault Module Name‘ because that tells you what the problematic program is.

Some reports about Kaspersky Internet Security software say it causes COM surrogate issues. 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 also know that ffdshow codec packs can cause this issue.

If you suspect the reason behind the issue, just try downloading 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.

Updating codecs has already helped many individuals 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, 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.

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 on 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 go to ‘Settings,’ which is located under the ‘Performance‘ section.

Advanced System Settings
Advanced -> Settings

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

Data Execution Prevention

Solution 03: Disable the Thumbnails

If the problem persists, you should also try this method 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 on at least an occasional basis.

Solution 04: Register the DLLs again

Registering the DLLs again can be another fix if the COM surrogate stops working. We should tell you 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.

Many users have succeeded with this method.


Q1. What is COM Surrogate?

COM Surrogate, or Component Object Model Surrogate, is a Windows process responsible for executing COM objects in a separate process to enhance stability and security.

Q2. Why does COM Surrogate stop working?

COM Surrogate may stop working due to various reasons, such as incompatible codecs, conflicts with third-party applications, malware infections, or corrupted system files.

Q3. How can I fix the COM Surrogate error on Windows?

To fix the COM Surrogate error, you can update your codecs, disable thumbnail preview, reset COM Surrogate settings, perform a System File Checker scan, disable Data Execution Prevention (DEP), update or reinstall problematic applications, run Windows System Maintenance Troubleshooter, perform a clean boot, update Windows and drivers, or use System Restore.

Q4. Are there any precautions to take while fixing the COM Surrogate error?

When fixing the COM Surrogate error, it’s important to download codecs or applications from trusted sources, create a system restore point before making any changes, and follow the instructions carefully to avoid causing any additional issues.

Q5. What should I do if none of the solutions work?

If none of the solutions provided in this article work, you can try seeking professional assistance or contacting Microsoft Support for further guidance.


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


Ten years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.

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