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How to Work on Large Excel Files Without Crashing (5-Step Guide)

Do you know how to work on large Excel files without crashing in Windows 10? This post outlined five steps to ensure a stable working experience in Microsoft Excel 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, etc. Use one or many tips together to protect big Excel files from freezing, crashing or running slowly on your PC.

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How's your experience in working on a large Excel file in Windows 10, like ~10MB? In fact, accountants for example, are producing Excel files with much bigger size than 10MB. Some people noticed that large files are likely to cause a crash in Excel. Is the file size responsible for the crash? 

As a matter of fact, big file size is not the real culprit for the Excel crashing issue. It's said that unstable, crashing, or freezing workbooks only tend to happen when your spreadsheets have grown to at least 20MB in size, given how much processing power modern computers have. Hence, you should consider other factors that crash Excel when the file you're working on is far less than 20MB in size.

Why Large Excel Files Crash

Except for the fact that the excel file is really large over 20MB, chances are that there are other factors that make your Excel unsteady to use. The factors are basically as follows:

  • Formatting, styles, and shapes in a worksheet
  • Calculations and formulas in a worksheet
  • Computer's RAM issue

How to Make Large Excel Files Work Faster Without Crash

A large excel file usually contains hundreds of rows of critical data with many styles and formulas in it, so you must take good care of the workbook by making a real-time backup, in case one day unexpected data loss happens due to the Excel crash, not responding or stop working suddenly before you can click Save. We suggest everyone turn on auto save in Excel, to save the workbook every 1~5 minutes.

Next, we're going to troubleshoot a slow workbook upon opening or editing in Excel around the discussed three factors. No matter it's a small or big Excel file since it causes a crashing issue in Excel, the given solutions in each section should help.

Step 1. Remove Excessive Formatting

Formatting cells on your worksheet can make the right information easy to see at a glance, but formatting cells that aren't being used (especially entire rows and columns) can cause your workbook's file size to grow quickly. Microsoft has its own add-on called Clean Excess Cell Formatting, which is available on Excel's Inquire tab in Microsoft Office 365 and Office Professional Plus 2013. If you don't see the Inquire tab in Excel, do the following to enable the Inquire add-in:

  • Click File > Options > Add-Ins.
  • Make sure COM Add-ins is selected in the Manage box, and click Go.

clean excess cell formatting 1

  • In the COM Add-Ins box, check Inquire, and then click OK. The Inquire tab should now be visible in the ribbon.

To remove the excess formatting in the current worksheet, do the following:

  • On the Inquire tab, click Clean Excess Cell Formatting.

clean excess cell formatting 2

  • Choose whether to clean only the active worksheet or all worksheets. After excess formatting has been cleared, click Yes to save changes to the sheets or No to cancel.

Step 2. Remove Unused Styles

Too many different styles on an Excel workbook are likely to cause a specific error of "Too many different cell formats", and the alongside symptom is a constant crash in Excel. Hence, you should avoid using multiple styles on one worksheet. To clean up workbooks that already contain several styles, you can use one of the following third-party tools suggested by Microsoft.

  • Excel formats (xlsx, xlsm) - XLStyles Tool.
  • Binary Excel formats (xls, xlsb), workbooks protected by a password, and encrypted workbooks - Remove Styles Add-in.

Step 3. Remove Conditional Formatting

  • Under Home, click Conditional Formatting.
  • Choose Clear Rules.
  • Select Clear Rules from Entire Sheet
  • If multiple sheets adopt the rule, repeat the steps to clear them all

clear conditional formatting

Step 4. Remove Calculations and Formulas

If you've gone through the above three-step check and removable unnecessary cell formatting, styles, and conditional formatting, but still work clumsily on a large Excel workbook, you may need to look at the formulas and calculations in your worksheet. You don't have to check every calculation and fomula you've applied in the file, but those primary ones tend to eat a lot of your computer's resources.

  • Formulas that reference entire rows or columns
  • Large number of formulas
  • Volatile functions
  • Array formulas

Step 5. Examine the Computer RAM Issue

Last but not the least, if none of the four-step efforts speed up the performance in working on a large Excel file in Windows 10, it may be an issue with your computer's memory. Follow the 10 tips on how to solve high RAM memory usage issue in Windows 10.

How to Repair Corrupted Large Excel Files Efficiently

What if Excel has crashed and corrupted the files? How can you fix damaged Excel in time? Try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. This advanced file repair tool resolves Excel file corruption and restores the .XLS/.XLSX file data. It fixes all types of Excel corruption errors, such as unrecognizable format, unreadable content, Excel runtime error, etc. 

With this file repair tool, you can:

  • Repair corrupted Excel with tables, images, charts, formulas, etc.
  • Repair multiple .XLS and .XLSX at one time
  • Fix damaged Excel files in 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, and 2000

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To repair a large Excel file that is inaccessible, follow the below guides. EaseUS file repair software also helps you repair corrupted Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents. 

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and then scan disk with corrupted documents. This software enables you to fix damaged Word, Excel, PPT, and PDF files in same steps. 

select the disk with corrupted documents

Step 2. EaseUS data recovery and repair tool will scan for all lost and corrupted files. You can find the target files by file type or type the file name in the search box. 

find corrupted documents

Step 3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can repair your damaged documents automatically. After file preview, you can click "Recover" to save the repaired Word, Excel, and PDF document files to a safe location.

repair corrrupt documents

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Updated by Dany

Dany is an editor of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. She focuses on writing articles about data recovery on Mac devices and PCs. She is devoted to improving her writing skills and enriching her professional knowledge. Dany also enjoys reading detective novels in her spare time.

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Approved by Evan Galasso

Evan Galasso is a digital forensics and data recovery engineer with over 10 years of experience in the field. He presents opinions on the current state of storage media, reverse engineering of storage systems and firmware, and electro-mechanical systems of SSDs and HDDs.

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