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Excel hangs when opening many files

We recently helped an Excel user solve a problem opening about 70 files at the same time.  He had been able to do in Excel 2007.  However, when he upgraded to Excel 2013 and a new Windows 8 PC, Excel 2013 would hang and lock up when opening the files, usually about file 50.  He had 6 GB of memory on the new PC.  He tried a lot of things, none of which worked, including:

  • Repairing Excel (using our steps)
  • Reloading Office
  • Removing all COM add-ins
  • Opening the files in a different order
  • Changing the printer to a non HP printer
  • Scanning the hard drive for errors

When he monitored the memory activity, there would be a spike around file 50 and then Excel would freeze. Consistently and on different files.

We found out he was running the 32 bit version of Office 2013.  This is the default installation.  We recommended he un-install Office and then install the 64 bit version, which he did. He reported back that all the files now open without any problems!  The 64 bit version of Excel gets around the use of just 3 GB of memory for all needs and allowed the user to use all of his 6 GB of memory. We did recommend that he go to 8 GB or even better 16 GB of memory. But he said all was working fine, so will only do that if the problem resurfaces.

Excel 2010 and higher have 64 bit versions.  We have seen many posts that the 2010 64 bit version of Excel is buggy, and we don't recommend using it. Stay with the 32 bit version of 2010 unless you run into problems.  We haven't seen any posts of problems with the 2013 64 bit version and this user's experience indicates that it may have been improved. 

To see which version of Excel you are running do File Tab, Help and the bit version is on the right. Only 2010 and higher have 64 bit versions. If you have 2003 or a round Office button versus a green File tab, you are using the 32 bit version.

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