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"COM surrogate stopped working" may mean that two pieces of Windows have stopped talking with each other. There are several repair options to try.

I have a new laptop running Windows 7. When I'm viewing photos using Windows Photo Viewer, I repeatedly receive the message, "Com Surrogate has stopped working. A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close program and notify you if a solution is available." It then crashes. This happens every time and many times while I'm scrolling my photos. I've never had this happen on my previous computers. I'd be very happy if you can tell me if there's a way to get past this problem. Thank you for your time.

In this excerpt from Answercast #84, I look at various ways that a COM surrogate error might be resolved.

COM surrogate stopped working

So there are many different reasons that something like this could be happening.

I'll start with malware. Malware certainly can cause various programs to misbehave and crash in ways that sound almost identical to what you've just described.

Do a virus scan

So the very first thing I would do is make sure you are running up-to-date anti-virus software, up-to-date anti-spyware software - and that you also consider running the free program from to see if there's anything else lingering out there.

Third-party software

The other thing that tends to happen, particularly with photo viewers, is that the software to decode specific file formats is sometimes either corrupt, or a third-party piece of software is installed for a file format that Windows doesn't install natively.

I don't really have a good way to fix that.

If you installed a third-party application that is somehow related to images (image viewing, image manipulation, or even video viewing or video manipulation), all of those things could leave something on your machine that could interact with Windows Explorer (or Windows Photo Viewer for that matter) in an unexpected way.

What I would try, I guess, is uninstalling any of those that you've installed recently or that you installed around the time that this problem started happening.

System file checker

Another approach would be a quick run of the system file checker. "Windows Com surrogate" is actually a piece of Windows. It is a piece of Windows that allows two different pieces of software to communicate with each other.

Things could be broken. The system file checker will run a check on all of the files that comprise Windows itself to make sure that they are in fact the proper version and that they haven't somehow been damaged. If they have, it will prompt you for your installation CD or potentially locate the master copy elsewhere on your machine to restore those files to their proper versions.

Recent updates

That also reminds me that I want to make sure you have Windows completely up to date.

Keeping Windows up to date resolves and prevents many issues like this - because once they're found, sometimes they then end up getting fixed and that fix becomes part of a Windows update.

So make sure Windows itself is up to date as possible.

Repair install of Windows

Finally, in the worst-case scenario, the only other thing than can I think of that might end up having to be done to repair the situation is a repair install of Windows itself.

That will actually cause the Windows components that are involved in this situation to be reinstalled from your original installation media.

I think it's not quite the worst-case situation. A worst case would actually be a reformat and reinstall of Windows. I don't think we have to go that far for this. The worst case I would expect you might run into is something like a repair install of Windows - which will, basically, refresh the copy of Windows on your machine from your original installation media leaving your program and your settings alone.

So those are the things that I would look at. Those are the things that I would try. It's very difficult to say with any kind of definitive sense that "this" specific thing is the problem - but hopefully, I've given you a couple of things to look at that will lead you to a solution.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6204 - January 2, 2013 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
January 4, 2013 9:05 AM

Recently had the same problem with "com surrogate stopped working" error message and fixed it by opening windows media player & changeing open file to point to my music folder as it was pointing to music in the cd drive that i had recently played but no cd in the tray
(win7 sys)

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