What to do if Com Surrogate has Stopped Working

What to do if Com Surrogate has Stopped Working

/ Shayne Sherman

When a computer begins running slowly or freezing, many users open the task manager to see which com surrogate process is causing the problem. When an unfamiliar surrogate process is a culprit, the first thing that may come to mind is that your Windows operating system computer has a virus issue.

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COM Surrogate is just one of many processes that are shrouded in mystery. If your COM Surrogate process is freezing up your computer, read on to find out how to fix this problem.

What Is COM Surrogate?

The COM Surrogate process is a necessary Windows operating system component, and COM is the abbreviation for “Component Object Model.” Although many apps can use these COMs, COM is vital to the host process. That means that if the COM part of the app malfunctions and crashes, it can cause the entire program, including Windows Explorer, to crash with it.

For this reason, Microsoft created the COM Surrogate process. This allows the developer’s program to create a “surrogate” or “proxy” COM that is not vital to the system. If the COM surrogate process crashes, it will not cause the host process to crash because it exists outside the host process.

Is COM Surrogate a virus?

Some Internet rumors claim that the COM Surrogate process is a virus, which is mostly untrue. Yes, a virus can have a similar name, but most likely, the virus, like other programs, is merely using the COM Surrogate process feature of Windows for its purposes. The COM Surrogate is also known as the COM Surrogate Sacrificial process.

Just as it has hijacked the rest of your computer, it has also hijacked the COM Surrogate process. Even though abnormal COM Surrogate processing power usage can signify a virus, there are several other reasons these surrogates might malfunction. As a COM surrogate sacrificial process, it naturally “acts in another place.” Made so to protect your PC system from possible issues. In short, the COM surrogate sacrificial process can be suitable for your computer.

For example, when you access a folder in your Windows Explorer and try to generate thumbnail images, your Windows processes fire a COM Surrogate to bring the thumbnails within the exe file.

How to Fix a COM Surrogate Error

Fix #1: Manually Force COM Surrogate to Close In The Task Manager

Sometimes the COM surrogate process becomes stuck, and you need to shut it down within your operating systems to be resolved it. This is the quickest and easiest fix.

Step #1

Right-click the taskbar to open the Taskbar Menu and access Windows Task Manager.

open task manager

Step #2

In the Task Manager window, scroll down until you find the “COM Surrogate” task. Click on it, and then click the “End Task” button on the page’s bottom. You should repeat this until you have closed all COM Surrogate processes at least once. Close your Task Manager.

com surrogate task manager

If the COM Surrogate restarts, it should be using a minimal amount of processing power. If it is still causing a problem, continue to the next step.

Fix #2: Update Your Antivirus and Scan Your Computer

One of the main reasons for surrogate processes to consume too much processing power is that your computer has a surrogate virus. To ensure that a surrogate virus isn’t contributing to the COM Surrogate processing issue, update your antivirus software.

Since all antivirus software is different, it isn’t easy to post exact instructions for doing this.

If you use Kaspersky Antivirus, there is a known problem with the antivirus itself that causes issues with COM Surrogate processes, so it is essential to update the entire program instead of just searching for antivirus definitions.

You may have to uninstall the software and reinstall it. If the problem goes away when the software is uninstalled and returns when reinstalled, you might want to change antivirus programs.

To update the built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, you type “Windows Defender” into the Start menu, select it, and click “Check for Updates Now” when it opens.

You need to run a complete system scan when your antivirus is up-to-date. This scan can take a long time, but it is vital to ensure that you do not have a surrogate virus interfering with or using the COM Surrogate process. Once the scan is complete, have the antivirus remove any surrogate virus it can find and restart your computer.

If you are using a third-party antivirus, you can visit the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on how to update it and use it to remove any surrogate virus. Once you have updated the antivirus, you must also ensure that Windows Defender is disabled.

Finally, if the virus scan does not find any surrogate virus but still believes you might have a virus, you can try to run an offline scan. It is also highly recommended to check for other malware infections that may be causing you an infected computer. Again, you need to follow the antivirus manufacturer’s instructions to do this.

Fix #3: Make Sure Windows Is Updated To Fix COM Surrogate Issue

Another cause of poor COM Surrogate process performance is the Windows 10 OS (operating system) is not up-to-date. Having an outdated version of Windows running can lead to many issues. To update Windows 10 manually, follow the steps below:

Step #1

Type “Settings” into the search bar, select the corresponding option or click on the “Settings” icon in the Start Menu.

open windows settings

Step #2

From the Settings menu, choose “Updates & Security.”

Step #3

Make sure to select “Windows Update” on the menu on the right. On the left, click the “Update status” button that says “Check for updates.”

check updates

Step #4

If any updates are installed, you must restart your computer before they go into effect. To do this, click on the Start menu “Power” icon and select “Restart.”

restart computer

If a stalled or missing update is interfered with once the COM Surrogate process runs, this method should take care of the issue. If you continue experiencing COM surrogate problems, continue to the following method.

Fix #4: Repair COM Surrogate Issue By Updating Windows Media Player

Your Windows Media Player is used to play any video or media files. However, If you don’t use Windows Media Player (or open it) frequently, the player may be out-of-date. This will, in turn, cause COM surrogate issues in your entire system. You can repair the problem by updating your media player. That way, you will also be able to enjoy media files again.

Step #1

Type “Windows Media Player” into the search bar and select the appropriate option, or click on the “Windows Media Player” icon if it is available on your taskbar.

windows media player

Step #2

When the app opens, allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it needs to update, it will do so automatically, and an “Update complete” message will appear at the bottom of the window.

update windows media player

Step #3

Close Windows Media Player, and restart your computer. To do this, click on the Start menu “Power” icon and select “Restart.”

restart computer

After you fix your video or media files player, restart your PC and see if the COM surrogate issue is resolved.

Fix #5: Run a System File Check

Windows 10 has a program that will check files for errors even if they occur in other programs running on the system. It can easily find files that may cause the COM Surrogate process hosts to use too much processing power. In addition, running a file check can also help check if there are any surrogate viruses causing problems to your system. This is how to run a file check:

Step #1

Enter “cmd” in the Search bar, and press [Enter].

run command prompt administrator

Step #2

Right-click on the “Command Prompt” option and choose “Run as administrator” from the drop-down menu that appears.

command prompt as administrator
sfc scannow

Step #3

Once the Command Prompt window opens, type “sfc /scannow” after the prompt (without quotation marks) and press [Enter]. Wait until the process is done. It may take some time to complete.

Step #4

When the scan finishes, you must restart your computer. As before, click the “Power” icon on the Start menu and choose “Restart.”

restart computer

Continue to the following method if the issue is still not resolved.

Fix #6: Remove or Clean up Thumbnails on Your Windows 10 Computer

Sometimes, COM Surrogate tries to access an unused corrupt file. Since the file is corrupt, you cannot open the file location, which cannot be accessed. To fix this problem, you must remove old thumbnails.

Step #1

Type “File Explorer Options” into the Start Menu and click on it.

search file explorer options

Step #2

Click the “View” tab in the File Explorer Options window. Make sure the “Always show icons, never thumbnails” option under “Files and Folders” has a checkmark next to it. Then click “Apply” and finally click “OK.”

folder view

Step #3

Open the Start menu and type in “Disk Cleanup.” Then click to open that app.

disk cleanup

Step #4

Select the drive you want to clean. This is usually the C: drive. If unsure, repeat this step and step #5 until you have cleaned all the drives.

disk cleanup drive selection

Step #5

Make sure there is a checkmark next to “Thumbnails.” Then click “Clean up system files.”

clean up system files

Step #6

Reopen the File Explorer Options by typing “File Explorer Options” into the Start Menu and clicking on it.

search file explorer options

Step #7

This time in the “View” tab in the File Explorer Options window, uncheck the “Always show icons, never thumbnails” option under “Files and Folders.” Again, click “Apply” and finally click “OK.”

folder view

Step #8

Close the window and click on the Power icon on the Start menu to restart your computer.

Fix #7: Re-create the Thumbnail Cache Using Command Prompt

Sometimes, you must delete all your thumbnails and have Windows rebuild its thumbnail cache. Faulty thumbnails will likely cause COM surrogate issues. To ensure your thumbnails open file location correctly, follow these steps:

Step #1

Type “cmd” into the search box, and right-click “Command Prompt” to bring up the “Run as administrator” option. Choose that.

run command prompt administrator

Step #2

After the command prompt appears, type “taskkill /f /im explorer.exe” without quotation marks (or cut and paste it) into the window, and hit [Enter]. This command stops File Explorer.

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe

Step #3

Now, type “del /f /s /q /a %LocalAppData%MicrosoftWindowsExplorerthumbcache_*.db” without the quotation marks (or cut and paste it) into the window, and hit [Enter]. This command deletes all the thumbnail files in the database.

delete localapp data in cmd

Step #4

Finally, restart File Explorer by typing “start explorer.exe” without the quotation marks into the window, and hit [Enter].

start explorer exe in cmd

Windows Explorer comes with a COM object that allows it to recreate thumbnails automatically. Check if refreshing your thumbnails fixed your DOM surrogate process issue.

Fix #8: Re-register the DLL Files

In some cases, the .dll file used by COM Surrogate works, but it may need re-registered to function correctly. You re-register it by performing these steps:

Step #1

Type “cmd” into the search box, and right-click “Command Prompt” to bring up the “Run as administrator” option. Choose that.

run command prompt administrator

Step #2

After the command prompt appears, type “regsvr32 vbscript.dll” without the quotation marks into the window, and hit [Enter].

regsvr32 vbscript cmd

Step #3

Next, type “regsvr32 jscript.dll” without the quotation marks into the window, and hit [Enter].

regsvr32 jscript cmd

This should reregister the dll files used by COM Surrogate and allow your computer to run smoothly. If it does not resolve the problem, continue reading.

Fix #9: Run Check Disk in the Command Prompt

Corrupt files are the frequent cause of a process using too much CPU power in Windows Explorer. As a result, you will likely see a COM surrogate issue. You can check your computer disk drives for errors by following these steps:

Step #1

Type “Command Prompt” into the Start menu as in other methods. Right-click the “Command Prompt” option and choose “Run as administrator” from the drop-down menu.

Click “Yes” to allow the program to make changes and continue to the Command Prompt.

run command prompt administrator

Step #2

Enter “chkdsk c: /r” at the prompt without quotation marks. Remember that c: is the name of the drive you wish to check, so you might have to replace that letter with a different one. Now press “Enter.”

chkdsk command

Step #3

The system will prompt you to restart the system. Choose Y to restart now and then press [Enter]. This process can take some time, especially if it is the first time you have done it. 

However, Windows should automatically repair any errors it finds. Once done, try to see if the COM surrogate issue persists.

Fix #10: Exclude COM Surrogate From Data Execution Prevention

If you are getting an error message: COM Surrogate has stopped working, this method will help that and other COM Surrogate process errors. Here’s how to exclude COM surrogate from DEP (Data Execution Prevention)

Step #1

In the Start Menu, type “advanced system settings” and click “View advanced system settings.”

view advanced system settings

Step #2

The “Advanced” tab should already be selected when the System Properties window opens. Under the “Performance” subheading, click the “Settings” button.

advanced performance settings

Step #3

Now, click the “Data Execution Prevention” tab and click on “Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select.”

data execution prevention

Step #4

Now, click “ADD.”

turn on DEP for all programs and services

Step #5

If you have 32-bit Windows 10, navigate to C:WindowsSystem32, or if you have 64-bit Windows 10, you need to navigate to C:WindowsSysWOW64

Please note: you will probably start in the System32 folder even if you have a 64-bit system (64-bit systems have both folders).

To navigate to the correct folder, you need to click the up folder icon (located next to the “Look in:” box at the top of the pop-up window.

windows system folder

Step #6

Once you have found the correct folder (System32 or SysWOW64), find dllhost, click on it, and select “Open.” This will add it to the exclusion list.

dllhost in system32 folder


syswow64 dllhost

Step #7

Click “Apply” and then “OK” to save your changes.

open task manager startups

Check if the COM surrogate process error is fixed. Try the next step if not.

Fix #11: Update or Roll Back Drivers

If you have recently updated a driver, follow these instructions to roll back the device driver to a previous version. In some cases, updates may be released with bugs that affect the COM Surrogate process.

Rolling back the driver will temporarily restore proper function to the process.

If you are unsure if any devices have recently been updated, it is best to check drivers for graphics, video, and display first and then audio/microphone drivers.

If these drivers have not been recently updated (the rollback feature is not available), you should attempt to update them by following these steps:

Step #1

Press the [X] key and the [Windows] key on your keyboard. This opens the Quick Link menu, where you must choose “Device Manager.”

windows search device manager

Step #2

Click to open the type of device you know was recently updated, and right-click on the name of the updated device. If you do not know if a device driver has recently been updated, click the “Display Adapters” subheading to expand it.

Now, right-click on the name of the first device listed and click “Properties.”

updating graphics driver

Step #3

Choose “Roll Back Driver” in the driver tab if available. If it isn’t available, skip to step #4.

A screen will appear, asking you why you are rolling back the device. Fill in the information and click “Yes” to confirm you want to roll back to a previous version of the driver. Skip to step #7.

roll back graphics driver

Step #4

If the “Roll Back Driver” option is grayed out, click “Update Driver” instead.

update driver option

Step #5

When you click Update Driver, you will see an option to have the computer automatically search for driver software. Choose this option.

Alternatively, you can note the current driver version and check on the manufacturer’s website for the latest version. You can download the newest version and install it manually from the manufacturer’s website if you do not have the latest version.

update audio driver automatically

Step #6

The computer should perform an automatic search. If your driver is up-to-date, you will see a message stating you already have the best driver installed for that device. Otherwise, the computer should automatically update the driver.

best drivers are already installed

Step #7

Close the pop-up window once the search (and update if needed) is finished.

You should restart your computer and see if the excess CPU issue is resolved.

If it hasn’t, you can return to the device manager window (Step #2) and reinstall the driver you rolled back. Follow the instructions for the next device driver until you have checked all graphics, video, display, and audio/microphone device drivers that are listed.

restart computer

Continue reading if you still haven’t resolved the COM surrogate error.

Fix #12: Uninstall Programs Know to Interfere With COM Surrogate

Two third-party programs have been known to interfere with COM Surrogate and cause high CPU usage: Acronis TrueImage and VLC Player (when using the 32-bit version with 64-bit Windows 10). With VLC Player, you can reinstall the 64-bit version once you follow the steps below to uninstall a program.

Unfortunately, if Acronis TrueImage is the culprit, there isn’t an alternative now. In some cases, other third-party media players might cause the issue, and Uninstalling them could help.

Step #1

Open the Start menu and type “Control Panel” without the quotations.

windows search control panel

Step #2

Click “Uninstall a Program.”

select uninstall a program option

Step #3

On the list that populates, find the program you wish to uninstall and click it. Then click Uninstall/Change and confirm you want to uninstall it.

uninstall programs
restart computer

Step #4

When the program has finished uninstalling, restart your computer.

Fix #13: Create a New User Account With Administrative Privileges

windows powershell in list

Sometimes, specific settings you saved can create COM Surrogate issues. Creating a new account with administrative privileges will reset these settings and restore the search feature.

Step #1

Press the [X] and [Windows] keys simultaneously. Select “Windows PowerShell (Admin)” and agree to allow the program to make changes.

Step #2

When the PowerShell opens, type “net user DifferentUsername DifferentPassword /add” without the quotation marks in the PowerShell prompt.

You need to replace DifferentUsername with the username you want for the new account. DifferentPassword should be replaced with the password you want to use for the new account.

Neither the password nor the username can contain any spaces, and both will be case-sensitive. When you have finished typing the command in, press [Enter] to execute it.

net user command powershell

Step #3

You must restart your computer before the changes take effect. Close the PowerShell window, and restart using the Start menu Power icon or by pressing the [Ctrl], [Alt], and [Delete] keys simultaneously on your keyboard to access the Task Manager menu and the Power icon there.

When the computer restarts, you must log on to the new user account you created using the unique username and password you typed into the PowerShell command.

Fix #14: Change How Your View of Menus

This will not fix the underlying problem but can help you regain control of your computer when nothing else is working. To change menu views, you can either follow steps #1 and #2 of the sixth method mentioned here, or you can use the following steps to change how you view menus temporarily.

This method will work if the COM Surrogate issue is caused by a known problem and Microsoft is developing a fix. When the fix is released, you can view the menus with thumbnails.

Step #1

Type “File Explorer” into the Start Menu or click the Start Menu File Explorer icon.

file explorer into start menu

Step #2

In the File Explorer window, click the “View” tab.

file explorer view tab

Step #3

Now, click either “List” or “Details“—whichever look you prefer.

list or details

If you have tried all the methods above and still notice COM Surrogate using too much CPU, you can check out the blog post on How to Rectify the 100% Disk Usage Error on a Windows 10 Computer for more ideas.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert on all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. Aside from entertaining at his home theater, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie.