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07-19-2021, 01:42 AM   #1
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Weird issue with USB card reader and Compact Flash card [SOLVED]

I recently bought a Hama USB multi-format card reader, as I own a variety of older cameras that use Compact Flash, SmartMedia, FujiFilm xD etc. It works well generally, but I'm running into a (thus far, minor) problem when using it with Compact Flash - specifically, a Cisco 256Mb Type II card (I haven't tried it with any others yet).

I insert the CF card into the reader, then plug the reader's USB cable into my laptop. The reader appears as drive "D:" on my system. I navigate to the photos (in this case, they're TIFF files), double click on one to open it with Windows Photo Viewer, and the photo displays as expected. Now, if I click the window close (X) button to close the viewer, it closes the photo but not the application, which - after a short period - displays "(Not responding)" in the title bar. If I click the close button again, I get the following error dialog:
"COM Surrogate is not responding. If you close the program, you might lose information."
When I choose to close the program, the OS reports the problem to Microsot and then it closes.

If I now try to eject the D: drive by clicking on the icon in my system tray, I get the following error dialog:
"'USB Drive [D:]' is currently in use. Save any open files on this disc, and then close the files or programs using the files before trying again. If you choose to continue, the files will be closed, which might cause data to be lost."
If I continue, the drive is ejected.

I've repeated this process numerous times opening the same and different files on the CF card, with exactly the same results. There doesn't appear to be any damage to the files, but it's a little concerning nonetheless.

Even if I don't use Windows Photo Viewer and instead simply copy the files from the reader to my laptop's main drive, when I come to eject the D: drive, I get the error message above.

This only seems to happen with CF cards (or, rather, the one CF card I've tried). When reading SD and xD cards, it works perfectly.

I'm running Windows 10 (10.0.19043, build 19043), and the reader doesn't use a proprietary driver. I get the same problem using a second laptop with the same OS build.

If any of my fellow members have experienced this and can offer a solution, I'd be most grateful. Alternatively, any ideas or pointers would be just as welcome.

Thanks in advance!


Last edited by BigMackCam; 07-20-2021 at 03:03 AM.
07-19-2021, 02:13 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Does it do this if you download the files to the PC instead of opening one?
07-19-2021, 02:21 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Does it do this if you download the files to the PC instead of opening one?
Indeed, it does. In fact, even if I simply navigate the CF card's directories in File Explorer then try to eject the drive, I get the same error...
07-19-2021, 04:16 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Next step is to try another CF card to find out if it is the card or the reader.

07-19-2021, 05:12 AM - 1 Like   #5
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"Drive in use" seems to indicate that the card is not properly finishing or confirming the writing of data by a Windows process to the card reader and card. That the viewer app refuses to close normally further suggests that the card or reader or Windows isn't successfully handling the command to close the CF card files that the viewer opened.

1. Have you tried copying a file to the CF to see if it succeeds?

2. Does Windows have any utilities to see what files are open and which processes are using them?

3. Can you reformat the card in a camera that uses them (or with Windows itself) to see if that clears the problem?

Hope you find a fix!

P.S. <RANT> I hate when computers report that a drive can't be ejected because it is "in use" but provide zero details on which program is using the drive. </RANT>
07-19-2021, 05:16 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I recently bought a Hama USB multi-format card reader, as I own a variety of older cameras that use Compact Flash, SmartMedia, FujiFilm xD etc. It works well generally, but I'm running into a (thus far, minor) problem when using it with Compact Flash - specifically, a Cisco 256Mb Type II card (I haven't tried it with any others yet).

I insert the CF card into the reader, then plug the reader's USB cable into my laptop. The reader appears as drive "D:" on my system. I navigate to the photos (in this case, they're TIFF files), double click on one to open it with Windows Photo Viewer, and the photo displays as expected. Now, if I click the window close (X) button to close the viewer, it closes the photo but not the application, which - after a short period - displays "(Not responding)" in the title bar. If I click the close button again, I get the following error dialog:
"COM Surrogate is not responding. If you close the program, you might lose information."
When I choose to close the program, the OS reports the problem to Microsot and then it closes.

If I now try to eject the D: drive by clicking on the icon in my system tray, I get the following error dialog:
"'USB Drive [D:]' is currently in use. Save any open files on this disc, and then close the files or programs using the files before trying again. If you choose to continue, the files will be closed, which might cause data to be lost."
If I continue, the drive is ejected.

I've repeated this process numerous times opening the same and different files on the CF card, with exactly the same results. There doesn't appear to be any damage to the files, but it's a little concerning nonetheless.

Even if I don't use Windows Photo Viewer and instead simply copy the files from the reader to my laptop's main drive, when I come to eject the D: drive, I get the error message above.

This only seems to happen with CF cards (or, rather, the one CF card I've tried). When reading SD and xD cards, it works perfectly.

I'm running Windows 10 (10.0.19043, build 19043), and the reader doesn't use a proprietary driver. I get the same problem using a second laptop with the same OS build.

If any of my fellow members have experienced this and can offer a solution, I'd be most grateful. Alternatively, any ideas or pointers would be just as welcome.

Thanks in advance!
Hello BigMackCam, perhaps you can try this: connect your cardreader to the PC and wait for it to be recognized by Windows. In File Explorer you must see the drive. Then insert the CF card. What happens then? What struck me is that you get driveletter D: which is reserved for a hard drive or a partition on a hard drive. I would expect that you get a driveletter such as G or onwards, which are reserved for external drives. It explains to me why you get the warning about the drive. If it works the right way you should see (unless empty drives are not shown in windows 10) a drive letter for each of the reader slots. Another thing you can do is after you have connected the cardreader to the pc without a card inserted to it,go to Device Manager and look for the Hama drive. Delete it from the system and turn the PC off. Disconnect the card and start the PC again. After starting up connect the drive again to the PC without a card inserted. After the drive is recognized by the system (you can see that in device manager if it is not shown in the File Explorer) then insert the CF and watch what happens. Hope this helps a bit.
07-19-2021, 05:19 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
"Drive in use" seems to indicate that the card is not properly finishing or confirming the writing of data by a Windows process to the card reader and card. That the viewer app refuses to close normally further suggests that the card or reader or Windows isn't successfully handling the command to close the CF card files that the viewer opened.

1. Have you tried copying a file to the CF to see if it succeeds?

2. Does Windows have any utilities to see what files are open and which processes are using them?

3. Can you reformat the card in a camera that uses them (or with Windows itself) to see if that clears the problem?

Hope you find a fix!

P.S. <RANT> I hate when computers report that a drive can't be ejected because it is "in use" but provide zero details on which program is using the drive. </RANT>
Rant: Since an update of Win 10 this is usual behaviour with it. My external disc drives are always in use despite the light on the drive are all out, which means it is asleep...


Last edited by AfterPentax Mark II; 07-19-2021 at 09:59 AM. Reason: typo
07-19-2021, 05:30 AM - 1 Like   #8
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1. Plug the USB in FIRST, then insert the card. Not the oher way around as you've described.
2. Copy the files to your C: drive before opening them in a program. Otherwise, the program will default to looking on the USB drive (eg F: or whatever), and then when you remove the card, it will be unable to access the default folder.
3. Alternatively, after you close the file on the USB, open/browse on C: from the program in question - otherwise it will default to the last place it looked, which was the now non-existent USB card.
07-19-2021, 05:36 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
"Drive in use" seems to indicate that the card is not properly finishing or confirming the writing of data by a Windows process to the card reader and card. That the viewer app refuses to close normally further suggests that the card or reader or Windows isn't successfully handling the command to close the CF card files that the viewer opened.

P.S. <RANT> I hate when computers report that a drive can't be ejected because it is "in use" but provide zero details on which program is using the drive. </RANT>
I have noticed this anomaly / feature myself - even with all programs closed, Win10 still insists that something is using the drive. Since all my SD cards are write-protected before I let Win10 anywhere near them, it has not as yet proved anything other than a minor annoyance.


Thought - as the card is write-protected, maybe Win10 is trying to write to the card, but cannot do so, hence the message. Can anyone confirm, please ?
07-19-2021, 06:17 AM - 3 Likes   #10
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Corrupted codecs can cause com surrogate (dllhost.exe) problems. Windows file explorer will be launching a com surrogate to extract the thumbnails off your CF card, then it would normally kill the com surrogate after that job is finished. But if the TIFF codec is corrupted, or more likely just not compatible with such old files, then the com surrogate will hang.

The reason you're seeing drive D: as busy after you've closed the program is that the com surrogate will still be running in the background and probably slowing your whole system down. If you open task manager and look in the processes tab you should be able to spot the guilty com surrogate from its CPU usage and shut it down. I used to encounter this problem a lot with Windows 7, but never so far with 10.

Last edited by Dartmoor Dave; 07-19-2021 at 06:39 AM.
07-19-2021, 09:24 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Well, I just tried a CF card in my reader (only 1Gb) and it behaved fine, same Win 10 build as yours.
Not a Hama reader but a 7 day shop proprietary one with no special drivers.
Only use the CF input when I drag out my istD so it doesn't get a lot of use.
07-19-2021, 09:44 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by roberrl Quote
Well, I just tried a CF card in my reader (only 1Gb) and it behaved fine, same Win 10 build as yours.
Not a Hama reader but a 7 day shop proprietary one with no special drivers.
Only use the CF input when I drag out my istD so it doesn't get a lot of use.

Drivers wouldn't have anything to do with a com surrogate going non-responsive and failing to terminate, which was the original issue. If it was a driver problem then the OS wouldn't have mounted the CF card reader at all and Windows would have thrown its unhelpful little "Device not recognised" pop-up. Com surrogates are processes launched by programs to handle jobs such as thumbnail extraction (and a zillion other things), which then terminate when the job is complete. If the com surrogate fails to terminate then the external drive involved will show as busy until either it finally terminates or you "end process" it.

Perhaps Mike (BigMackCam) could tell us which camera created the TIFF files involved. My money is on the codec pack in Windows 10 tripping over the TIFFs from an older camera.
07-19-2021, 09:44 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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Odds are the problem is in the card. I have a Sandisk flash drive that went bad and displays the same symptoms.

Problem areas:
card, card reader, cable, port on host (either the port itself or "hub" on host device e.g. chipset), drivers

Isolate the problem by substitution of problem areas.

You've already tried different hosts (laptop vs desktop) which leaves the cable, card reader or card. Since SD cards seem to work you can probably eliminate the cable but swapping it out won't hurt. So you're left with the card or card reader (the CF slot may be bad). Substituting the CF card should isolate the problem.

Do you have a USB cable for the camera using the CF card? Attach it to the PC and try reading the files on the card that way. If it fails then then Bob's your uncle you know the problem is in the card. In this instance the camera essentially becomes a CF card reader.

HDDScan can be used to check bad cards:
HDDScan - FREE HDD and SSD Test Diagnostics Software with RAID and USB Flash support

QuoteOriginally posted by AfterPentax Mark II Quote
Rant: Since an update of Win 10 this is usual behaviour with it. My external disc drives are always is use despite the light on the drive are all out, which means it is asleep...
If the external drive is connected and powered on when Windows starts up a virus scanner or system file indexing will open files in the system volume information folder and keep them open so Windows Explorer sees the drive in use if if the drive is "sleeping". External drives using USB Attached SCSI (UAS) (Seagate likes using this) are more prone to this. This behavior has been around since Windows 7 or even earlier. The easiest solution next to shutting down the system is to log out of Windows, disconnect the drives and log back in. This means having to close your applications but it takes less time than shutting down and restarting.

You can also use Process Explorer and see what processes have the drive open and shut down the process. However if the process is protected such as a virus scanner, indexing, or volume shadow copy then you won't be able to kill it.

How to prevent this? Plug in your drives after starting and logging into Windows. Disabling file indexing and excluding the drives from the virus scanning (not recommended) can help.

Last edited by Not a Number; 07-19-2021 at 09:49 AM.
07-19-2021, 10:10 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
Do you have a USB cable for the camera using the CF card? Attach it to the PC and try reading the files on the card that way. If it fails then then Bob's your uncle you know the problem is in the card. In this instance the camera essentially becomes a CF card reader.

That's an excellent suggestion. If it works properly reading the files straight from the camera then the problem has to be with the card reader. If the same problem subsists when reading straight from the camera then it has to be problem with the Windows 10 codec pack (which I'll admit is still what I think is the most likely cause of a com surrogate hanging).
07-19-2021, 08:00 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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I've got the "device is in use" error message when trying to eject a usb device on occasion. I just reboot the computer. That will shut the device down properly. Once it boots back up, it will eject just fine with no damage. Using Windows 10.
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