We have a user that uses Excel 2003 for a few of their acturial formulae. At the moment they are using a ESX host VM with 2 gig of RAM and a single core. The issue is that their huge burgeoning spreadsheet (some 35000 rows of intricately linked data) takes an age to make updates to. I was wondering if moving them to Office 2007 or even the newer 2010 might help improve things. I was thinking along these lines as changes to the VM side are somewhat blocked off (I am first/second line) and I have heard that the cell limit in the later versions of Excel has been bumped up (and one would hope that efficiency has improved with that move). Does anyone think that this change would be enough or can they recommend any, ideally open source, alternatives that have more efficient processing of large spreadsheets. I am sure that such an intricate sheet may be better off in a proper database style environment (e.g. Access) but am looking for any pointers I can use to add to my suggestions.



  • Does the sheet use any VBA on the back end or is it all excel formulas in the cells? If there's VBA involved there are ways to optimize it and make it perform much faster. – Michael Jun 25 '10 at 15:17
  • According to the user apparently not. was hoping that that was the part I had overlooked :) – Tim Alexander Jun 25 '10 at 16:25
  • What's the reason for VM? Sounds to me like that's the bottleneck. – David W. Fenton Jun 25 '10 at 23:15
  • Company policy has decreed the use of the VM. I have battled hard enough to get the RAM up to 2gigs but that seems to be the limit. Looking at the performance graphs though the CPU is not plateauing at 100% merely spiking and the RAM is not being maxed out. This led me to believe it was more likely to be the program. One alternative I am looking in to is putting their VMs on a different datastore but can;t really find any evidence to justify this. – Tim Alexander Jun 28 '10 at 8:36

Solved the issue in the end by setting up a citrix published Excel session. This had a much better response time so one would assume it is a VM hardware bottleneck issue of some kind. Considering how most of our users are citrix users this solution is more than workable.

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