My co-worker has a very large Excel file (over 7 MB) that suffers from the problems of (A) running slowly (B) taking forever to open/save/close and (C) freezing the computer, requiring a restart.

I set the calculations to Manual, and I repaired the file, but the file didn't change in file size and it is still having these problems.

My questions are:

(1) Is there any way around this problem or is Excel just bad at handling ~7MB files?

(2) Would upgrading RAM make a big difference?

(3) It's possible that we can't afford to spend the money on a RAM upgrade. Are there are any other ways of mitigating the problem?

  • 1
    Is this only occuring with the same file; and always or some of the time? Is there possibility of splitting up the file? I am not aware of any limitations I have not used extremely large files; is it only on the one computer, do you perform any system maintenance? Ram is generally inexpensive and never hurts to load up on either. Is there lots of code? I could see if you have lots of macros that run on startup maybe they could be user operated after load?!
    – Iceking007
    Feb 17, 2011 at 22:58
  • We don't have any other files that big. It's occurring with the same file, always. We'd rather not split it as she needs to edit many rows at once that are related. It's statically located on a server computer. I don't think there are a lot of macros.
    – ktm5124
    Feb 17, 2011 at 23:06
  • 3
    This is not a large file by any stretch of the imagination. While it might be large compared to what you're used to, I've seen Excel files in the hundreds of megabytes and beyond work fine. There's something else going on here besides Excel itself - my hunch might be that some of those 'calculations' have some kind of recursive loop or really bad scripting that is causing looong execution times. Can you be more specific about this spreadsheet?
    – Shinrai
    Feb 17, 2011 at 23:11
  • About RAM: Open the task manager while handling the file. I doubt memory usage is very high, I think this is a CPU problem instead.
    – schnaader
    Feb 17, 2011 at 23:46
  • I removed the formulas in a copy that I made of the file. It still takes forever to save/load. There is also a lot of data validation going on... that is, drop-down lists where you can only enter a value from a set of pre-determined values. Anyway, is there anything else that it can be? Do you think it could be a matter of RAM?
    – ktm5124
    Feb 18, 2011 at 0:11

3 Answers 3


As mentioned in earlier comments, this is not an enormous file.

The most likely cause is links in formulas to other sheets which are not open, or not available. Excel will try for an awfully long time to resolve the network connections to get the data from an external source.

Also check that there are not macros running at startup which are trying to make a connection to an external source


It could be due to volatile cells (with many dependent cells that also become volatile). Run the profiler in the FormulaDesk add-in and profile by volatile cells. It should show you where the problem lies.

Disclaimer: FormulaDesk is my product

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What version of Excel is this? If Excel 2007 or Excel 2010 I'd try saving it to the older non-XML based format (.xls instead of .xlsx) and see if performance improves.

Also give OpenOffice a try to see if that copes with the file better (just to see if it's Excel vs the file at fault)

  • I tried saving it to .xls 97-2003 format and it didn't work. Still freezes on saving the file.
    – ktm5124
    Feb 17, 2011 at 23:35

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