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How to Configure Your Laptop to Heavy Excel Use?

If you use Excel on your laptop heavily but find it sluggish, you might need to check the configurations of your laptop. It’s likely that the file size is not the one making things slow. Often, the memory of your device is in use as your run Excel. In a worst-case scenario, you might get a “not enough memory” error message. Sometimes you will get a notification that your laptop doesn’t have enough resources to display correctly.

Such messages can be frustrating, and while you may close and restart the laptop, sometimes you need a better solution. You may consider upgrading your laptop’s RAM or switch to a desktop, but this is also unlikely to help. The problem, in this case, is that Excel is holding you back in its usage, and not necessarily a problem with the machine.

Excel Memory Allocation

If you keep getting an error message, go to the task manager and check memory utilization. If your laptop has 4GB or more RAM, the problem is not with the memory. The reason for the memory error message emanates from Excel’s memory manager and limits. These have nothing to do with the memory capacity of your laptop.

All Excel versions that came after Excel 2003 have a memory limit of 2GB memory. This means that even if your laptop has 4GB or 8GB, Excel can only use 2GB of it. When it reaches the higher limit, it sends an error message. This tells you that upgrading your laptop’s memory won’t do much to help the situation. What can you do instead?

Install 64-bit Office

The first solution to the Excel memory issue is to install Excel as a 64-bit application. Initially, Excel came as a 32-bit application that shares a maximum of 4GB memory pool between itself, open workbooks, and add-ins. Regardless of how much space you have on your device, bit-32 Excel can only utilize 4GB.

The 64-bit version has exponentially boosted the memory of Excel and can use the entire memory space of your laptop. Depending on the size of your computer or laptop, it can comfortably use up to 8,000GB, more than what most devices in the world currently have. This will give you better performance and reduce downtime. The only thing that will limit you this time is the system and the RAM capacity, which affect storage and computation.

However, for this version to be effective, ensure the other Office apps, the operating system, and hardware have the same bit size. Check the version by clicking on File, then Account, and About Excel Ribbon. If yours is the 32-bit version, uninstall Office and reinstall the 64-bit version. You don’t have to worry about losing your settings or email in the process.

Use Microsoft 365

Microsoft has invested in features that improve the performance and speed of Excel since 2017. It’s easier and faster to find formulas and to use the filter and sort functions. You’ll also experience fewer crashes, freezes, or hanging episodes with Excel on Microsoft 365. It also provides a myriad of other benefits in using Excel.

Overall, using this version is more enhanced as it learns your patterns and quickly organizes your data to save you time. This way, you can quickly create spreadsheets from the inbuilt templates or start from scratch. The modern formulas come in handy to help you perform calculations.

Excel on Microsoft 365 also gives you a better picture of your data. The new charts and graphs make your data more visually compelling. The tables, formatting, and sparklines make it easier to interpret data, create forecasts and predict trends.

Microsoft makes it easier for you to share your workbook with others if you’re working as a team. Everyone gets to work on the latest version for real-time collaboration and faster work completion. Microsoft 365 allows you to work on an Excel file from desktop, mobile, or web.

Advancements in the functionalities of the Microsoft 365 Excel version allow you to digitalize your processes. You can easily add data to Excel from a photo. Take a picture of the printed data table and automatically convert it into an editable table in Excel. Image recognition eliminates the manual work of entering hard copy data.

Invest in a Large External Monitor

Spreadsheets use a lot of space. When you’re working on multiple workbooks simultaneously, they’re likely to slow down your laptop or computer. A 15″ or 16″ screen can help counter this problem.

You may also want to look at the number of cores of the laptop you’re using. Excel files can use multiple cores, and i7 or i9 CPU can perform better than others. However, the improvements will not be as much if you don’t take care of the other factors discussed above.

Other recommendations to reduce Excel memory exhaustion problems include:

  • Plan the Excel designs properly. A simple action like adding a new column to the spreadsheet could make you run out of memory. This is because Excel has to recalculate all the formulae affected by that small change.
  • Work from left to right as Excel begins calculations from the top left-hand corner. Ensure your input values are to the left and above the referencing formulas
  • Eliminate unwanted shapes as they could eat into your memory.
  • Consider opening large files on a separate instance. This means that you should only open a new session of Excel for every workbook. This gives you a dedicated 2GB memory for each workbook.
  • Check your used range as sometimes Excel remembers it even when you have deleted the reference. This can increase memory usage and file size.

Using these steps will give you better Excel performance than buying a new laptop with certain specifications.

Final Thoughts

The Excel application can sometimes be sluggish and may portray the problem as limited memory space. However, this is in most times, not the problem. Configuring your laptop or device differently can help the situation and speed up performance.

One of the most reliable approaches is to install Microsoft 365. As a cloud-based solution, you’ll hardly have issues with low memory space for Excel. If you need help to set up Microsoft 365 for your business and optimize all of its features, call us today for an initial consultation.

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