How to Fix COM Surrogate has Stopped Working on Windows 10, 8, And 7

Troubleshooting dlllhost.exe issues

A 'COM Surrogate has stopped working,' or 'dll host not responding,' error is a weird and frustrating one to come across. COM Surrogate errors aren't catastrophic, but if they occur often enough they can be quite disruptive.

How to fix the COM surrogate problem depends on your operating system, but we can walk you through it whether you're running Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7.

What is COM Surrogate?

COM Surrogate is a catchall name for processes called dllhost.exe that is designed to separate the church and state of Windows Explorer and individual DLL hosts that have the potential to crash; In particular, DLLs that deal with media thumbnails. There are many others, but that's one of the most common ones.

Com Surrogate in Task Manager

COM Surrogate makes it so that if any of those DLL files crash, they don't crash the entire Windows Explorer. Think of it as a first line of defense for system stability.

What Causes COM Surrogate to Stop Working?

The 'COM Surrogate has stopped working' error doesn't appear to stop you doing much, but its interruption can be irritating and it's not often obvious what's caused the problem.

Nailing down the precise cause of why your DLL host isn't responding isn't always easy. There are a few ways it can go wrong, with the most obvious and typical being there has been some corruption in a codec which allows the thumbnails of certain media to be displayed. In other cases, a corrupted display driver can be the cause, or errors on your storage drive.

In some more niche cases, we've heard reports of specific applications like Adobe Photoshop and Nero disk burner, causing COM Surrogate to stop working. That's less likely, and we'd certainly advocate some of the more general fixes below before pointing the finger at any particular application, but it's always worth bearing in mind. If you recently installed a new app and are suddenly experiencing any kind of errors, rolling back to before you installed it can be a good first step.

Fix COM Surrogate Has Stopped Working in Windows 10

Without an always obvious cause for COM Surrogate errors, it's often good to try some general fixes that can fix a sweeping array of problems first. After any of the following fixes, reboot your system and repeat the steps to trigger the COM Surrogate problem. If all is well, it shouldn't appear again.

While these steps are designed to work with Windows 10, they are also applicable to both Windows 7 and 8.1, the methods for getting there might just be slightly different.

  1. Run an antivirus scan. It's probably not a malware problem, but it's always a good idea to run an antivirus scan if you're having an issue with your Windows PC.

  2. Update your graphics drivers. A dodgy display driver can be the reason for COM Surrogate has stopped working errors, so removing the existing one and installing an updated version (or an older one confirmed to work) can be a good place to start to fix dll host not responding problems.

    If you want to be doubly sure you removed everything to do with your graphics drivers, download and run Display Driver Uninstaller too. It's a little more involved, but the steps are self explanatory and the wizard will walk you through them.

    If this doesn't fix the error and you think updating to a recent driver may have caused it, consider downloading an older driver you know will work and installing that instead.

  3. Check for disk errors. Problems with your storage drive can be the cause of DLL host errors, so giving it a once over is a good idea if you encounter that problem.

  4. Add a DEP Exception. Data Execution Prevention, or DEP, is a Window security tool that prevents unrecognized scripts from loading into reserved memory. It's possible that an overzealous DEP is preventing COM Surrogate from running properly. To fix that, you can add it to the DEP Exception list.