The action cannot be completed because the file is open in COM Surrogate

You may come across a situation where you are unable to rename a file on your Windows computer despite the file not being open anywhere. If you go on to rename it, you may see an error: File In Use, The action cannot be completed because the file is open in COM Surrogate.
The action cannot be completed because the file is open in COM Surrogate
The message will suggest you close the file and try again. If it helps, good for you. But it does not, then you could try one of these suggestions. But before you begin, do scan your computer with your antivirus software, as malware infection may throw up this message.

The action cannot be completed because the file is open in COM Surrogate

The dllhost.exe process goes by the name COM Surrogate, and the term itself is pretty generic – but it is used to host one or more operating system services. When COM Surrogate is unable to handle the code; you may receive this error.

1] Check the Task Manager

At times, the application might not show open in the task bar, but it might still be running elsewhere without the knowledge of the user. To isolate this possibility, please open the Task Manager and check the list of programs which are running. If your program is listed among them, right click on it and select the option ‘End Task’ to close it.

Also, try this. Open Task Manager > Under the Details tab, locate dllhost.exe process, right-click on it and select End task. Now see if you can do what you wanted to do.

2] Restart Computer and try

Restart your Windows computer and try to carry out the desired operation on the file.

3] Perform a Clean Boot

Boot your computer in Clean Boot State and then try to manually troubleshoot the issue. You will have to find the offending process manually. Clean-boot troubleshooting is designed to isolate a performance problem.

4] Remove recently installed 3rd-party program

At times, a few third-party applications might be interfering, and that could cause this issue. In case your system was working fine earlier and is showing the problem after installing a 3rd party application any recently, try uninstalling that program and check if it works after that.

5] Disable Hardware Acceleration

Hardware Acceleration means using computer’s hardware for performing a certain task and function faster than would be possible using a software. Disable hardware graphics acceleration and see it that helps you.

6] Disable Data Execution Prevention

Data Execution Prevention or DEP is a security feature that can help prevent damage to your computer. If a program tries executing code from memory in an incorrect way, DEP closes the program. Turn Off DEP for that individual Program or disable Data Execution Prevention  globally and see if it helps. Mind you when you disable DEP globally, it will leave your computer less secure.

If something does not work for you, remember to reverse the changes made.

Hope something helps!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

One Comment

  1. crismahn

    Suggestion one worked for me. I am running windows 8.1 and downloaded some .ico files earlier today. When I went into explorer to have a look inside my Icons folder the thumbnails for two of the new icon files were black. They opened up okay in my icon editor, but I didn’t care for the look of them and tried to delete them. That is when I got the message “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in COM Surrogate”. Never ever seen that message in all my years of working with windows. Not once, Never heard of COM Surrogate. So after fooling around and getting nowhere I searched for the message and landed here. I opened up task manager and under “background processes” there was COM Surrogate. I closed it and was then able to successfully delete the files. Thanks.

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