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Possible causes of slower performance in Excel and how to solve it

Published: November 8, 2018 (latest revision December 1, 2021)
reference id: QA0310

Introduction

Unfortunately there are few things out of our influence that can cause the tools from ASAP Utilities running slower than expected in Excel.

If you experience a reduced speed then it can be related to a specific workbook that you use, the Excel version/build that you use, or something else on your system.

This article shows several possible causes and fixes:

  1. Bugs in certain Excel builds - Install latest updates
  2. Workbooks with Linked Pictures
  3. Working with files from OneDrive
  4. Microsoft: VBA code writes to cells slowly in worksheets with many invisible ActiveX controls
  5. Microsoft: Incompatible video configuration may cause reduced performance of an Office program (other than startup and shutdown).
  6. Microsoft: Excel not responding, hangs, freezes or stops working
  7. From the Excel team: Tips for improving Excel's performance

1. Bugs in certain Excel builds - Install latest updates

Verify if you have installed the latest updates from Microsoft Office.
There have been bugs in Excel that could impact the performance of macros/add-ins and Microsoft makes improvements every month:
The importance of Microsoft Office Update | Fix random crashes Microsoft Office Updates
Microsoft Office Updates

2. Workbooks with Linked Pictures

There is a strange and annoying bug in Excel that can cause macros to run very slow in a specific situation:
Even if only one of the open workbooks in Excel has a linked picture, then it affects áll workbooks. Macros (that update cells) then run much slower.

More information:

3. Working with files from OneDrive

In case you open a file from OneDrive, macros (that update cells) can run up to 5 times slower.
Turning AutoSave on or off makes no difference, turning OneDrive desktop client on/off makes no difference, turning off "Use Office applications to sync Office files that I open" in OneDrive makes no difference, turning internet connection on/off makes no difference either, speed stays slow.
However, although we haven't found a logical explanation for this, a temporary workaround is:
1. File > Info > Manage Workbook > Check Out
2. File > Info > Check In
3. File > Info > Edit workbook
After these steps, the speed is back to normal again.

(OneDrive issue discovered with Excel 365, version 1908)

4. Microsoft: VBA code writes to cells slowly in worksheets with many invisible ActiveX controls

Consider the following scenario:
- You are working in Excel for Office 365, Excel 2016 or a later version.
- A worksheet contains many ActiveX controls that are set to be invisible.
- You have VBA code that writes many formulas to cells.
In this scenario, Excel writes to the cells very slowly when you run the VBA code.

# VBA code writes to cells slowly when many ActiveX controls are invisible in Excel 2016, Excel 2019 and Excel 365
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/troubleshoot/excel/vba-writes-to-cells-slowly

5. Microsoft: Incompatible video configuration may cause reduced performance of an Office program (other than startup and shutdown).

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms if you have a video configuration on your computer that is incompatible with the Office feature set that is responsible for displaying the application and for animations in the application.

- An Office program is blurry.
- Your screen flickers or flashes.
- An Office program is either mostly all white or all black.
- Text in your document is not displayed well.
- Your Office program crashes.
- The performance of an Office program (other than startup and shutdown) is reduced.
- In Microsoft Lync, there may be video delays or slowness when you are on a video call.

# Display issues in Office client applications
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/troubleshoot/settings/office-display-issues

6. Microsoft: Excel not responding, hangs, freezes or stops working

This article discusses troubleshooting steps that can help resolve the most common issues when you receive an Excel not responding error, Excel hangs or freezes when you launch it, or open an Excel workbook. These types of problems may occur for one or more of the reasons listed below.
...If your antivirus software includes integration with Excel you may experience performance issues...

# Excel not responding, hangs, freezes or stops working
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/excel-not-responding-hangs-freezes-or-stops-working-37e7d3c9-9e84-40bf-a805-4ca6853a1ff4

7. From the Excel team: Tips for improving Excel's performance

This article from the Microsoft Excel team lists multiple tips for improving Excel’s performance.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/tips-for-improving-excel-s-performance-a8294ac5-652d-47f2-8e89-1c3ce2c09439






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