How To Open Large Excel Files Without Crashing?

Summary: It is common for large Excel files to crash. This blog discusses causes and practical solutions on how to open large Excel files. We also discuss how a professional Excel file repair tool like Stellar Repair for Excel helps avoid data loss.

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Around 1.1 to 1.5 billion people around the globe use MS Excel. Manipulating and analyzing large datasets is the most common use case for Excel. However, when the Excel file becomes larger in size, it often crashes.

Now you are not alone in this. Users worldwide face the issue. In this article, we will dive deep into the what, why, and how of the issue.

Table Of Content:

What Causes Large Excel Files To Crash?

Handling a vast amount of data can overwhelm Excel’s memory capacity. This causes the application to crash.

But before we talk about how to open large Excel files, it is important to understand that file size is not the only reason why large Excel files crash.

Some other reasons why large files crash, include:

– Excessive Formulas and Calculations

Large Excel files with many complex formulas and calculations strain its processing capabilities. This leads to crashes.

– Too Much Formatting

Large files with extensive formatting crash due to the increased resource requirements. The formatting could be conditional formatting rules, cell styles, or graphical elements.

– Outdated Software Versions

Running large Excel files on outdated software versions results in compatibility issues. This results in instability, leading to crashes.

– Insufficient System Resources

Inadequate computer resources struggle to cope with the demands of large Excel files. Thus, low RAM or an older processor can cause crashes.

– External Data Connections

Files relying on external data (database queries or web services) may face crashes. This is because there may be issues with the data sources or if the connections are not properly managed.

– Macro and Add-ins Issues

The presence of faulty or poorly optimized macros and add-ins in a large Excel file can lead to crashes. Macros and add-ins that are not well-designed or incompatible with Excel cause instability.

Now let’s explore how to open large Excel files without any issues.

Also Read: How to fix ‘Unexpected Error: Changes to Data Can’t Be Saved” in Windows 11?

How To Open Large Excel Files Without Crashing?

Before getting to how to open large Excel files, fix hardware or software problems that might be causing the issue.

For example,

  • If you have low disk space, free up disk space by removing unnecessary files or applications.
  • If you have an older processor or limited RAM, upgrade the hardware.
  • If you are using an outdated Excel version, update Excel to the latest version.
  • If you are using external data, troubleshoot any problems with data connections.

Once you have done these sanitary checks, try opening your large Excel file again.

Still facing crashes? Here’s how to open large Excel files to avoid it

Also Read: How to Resolve Excel Crash Issue?

Method 1: Remove Add-Ins

Excel add-ins are additional functionalities that can be taxing on system resources. These add-ins consume resources and contribute to crashes, especially with large files.

Removing those that are not essential can help prevent crashes.

Here’s how to remove unnecessary add-ins:

1: Open Excel.

2: Go to “File” > “Options.”

Go to File-Options

3: In the Excel Options dialog, select “Add-ins.”

4: In the Manage box, choose “Excel Add-ins” and click “Go.”

choose "Excel Add-ins" and click "Go."

5: Uncheck unnecessary add-ins.

6: Click “OK” to save changes.

Try opening the large Excel file again.

Also Read: How to Repair Excel File Online?

Method 2: Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration

Graphics acceleration can strain system resources, causing issues with large Excel files. It is good for the user experience, but disabling it can help open large Excel files without crashing. 

1: Open Excel.

2: Go to “File” > “Options.”

3: In the Excel Options dialog, select “Advanced.”

4: Under the “Display” section, uncheck “Disable hardware graphics acceleration.”

Disable hardware graphics acceleration

5: Click “OK” to apply changes.

Method 3: Clean Cell Formatting

Excessive cell formatting can lead to performance issues. Cleaning up unnecessary formatting can enhance the speed and stability of Excel.

To remove unnecessary cell formatting:

1: Open Excel.

2: Highlight the cells with formatting.

3: Go to the “Home” tab.

4: In the “Editing” group, click “Clear” and select “Clear Formats.”

how to open large excel files

You should also remove formatting from unused cells.

Method 4: Remove Unnecessary Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting, when excessive, can strain Excel’s capabilities. Reducing the number of conditional formatting rules minimizes the computational load. This, in turn, prevents crashes.

Here’s how to do that:

1: Open Excel.

2: Select the range with unnecessary conditional formatting.

3: Go to the “Home” tab.

4: In the “Styles” group, click “Conditional Formatting.”

5: Choose “Clear Rules” and select “Clear Rules from Selected Cells.”

how to open large excel files

Method 5: Remove Unwanted Formulae

Unused or redundant formulas contribute to file complexity. Removing unnecessary formulae can improve performance.

Start by identifying cells with unnecessary formulas. Then replace those unnecessary formulas with static values.

Method 6: Run Excel in Safe Mode

Running Excel in Safe Mode disables certain features and add-ins. This resolves issues that might cause crashes.

You can open Excel in Safe Mode by:

1: Press `Win + R` to open the Run dialog.

2: Type “excel /safe” and press Enter.

how to open large excel files

3: Open your large Excel file in Safe Mode

Method 7: Use 64-Bit Excel

Switching from the 32-bit to the 64-bit version helps handle large datasets. This is because the 64-bit version can use more system memory and enhances Excel’s capacity.

Here’s how to do that:

1: Check your current Excel version (File > Account).

how to open large excel files

2: Download and install the 64-bit version from the official Microsoft website.

3: Open your Excel file with the newly installed 64-bit Excel.

Method 8: Split Data Into Worksheets

Dividing a large dataset into worksheets makes it more manageable. This reduces the strain on system resources, avoiding crashes. It also allows you to work on specific sections independently.

Also Read: How to Fix “The file is corrupted and cannot be opened” Error in Excel?

How To Repair Crashing Excel Files & Recover Data?

Sometimes large Excel files crash and get corrupted. This makes it tough, if not impossible to open them, leading to chances of data loss.

To get your data back, you should use a professional Excel file repair tool.

A professional Excel file repair tool, like Stellar Repair for Excel helps repair a corrupted file and recover data from it. 

With Stellar Repair for Excel, you can repair small and large Excel files and get your data back in 3 simple steps:

With Stellar Repair for Excel, you can repair small and large Excel files and get your data back

Stellar Repair for Excel is available for MS Excel 2019, 2016, and all previous versions. It works on Windows 11, 10 and older versions.

Also Read: How to Fix Excel File Error: Data May Have Been Lost?

Have multiple large Excel files that need to be repaired? 

The software can also work on several files at once. Plus, the worksheet properties, like alignment, fonts, styles, formulas, etc. are all retained too.

Stellar Download

You can download the Stellar Repair for Excel software for free. Then preview the file data before actually paying to recover the contents.


1. What is considered a large Excel file?

There is no strict definition as to what is a large Excel file. Usually, files with numerous rows and columns, extensive formulas, or large amounts of data (beyond a few MBs) are considered large.

Also Read: ‘File Could Not Be Found’ Error in Excel: How To Fix?

2. Does crashing a large Excel file cause data loss?

Crashing an Excel file itself does not necessarily result in data loss. Excel often creates auto-recovery files that can be used to restore your work.

However, if the crash occurs before you’ve had a chance to save your changes, you may lose unsaved data. Also, if frequent crashes corrupt the Excel file, it leads to data loss.

Also Read: How to Recover Deleted Excel Files?

3. Are there specific file formats that are more efficient for handling large datasets in Excel?

Yes, choosing the right file format can impact the performance of large Excel files.

Binary Workbook (.xlsb) formats are more efficient than the traditional Workbook (.xlsx) format. Binary workbooks generally have a smaller file size, faster calculations, and better resistance to corruption.

However, compatibility with other spreadsheet software should be considered when using this format.

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