How to Troubleshooting Available Resources errors in Excel

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Symptoms

When working with a Microsoft Excel File you receive one of the following messages: 

"Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications."

“Out of Memory”

"Not enough System Resources to Display Completely"

Cause

The above memory error messages can be very generic and don't always identify the real cause of the issue. However, if your file is large or contains a large amount of features, it is possible you are running low on available memory resources. 

Before we explore the more common reasons for the memory errors, it good to understand Excel's limitations. Please see the following resources for more information:

Excel specifications and limits
Excel memory limitations 
"Not enough memory" error messages when you copy formulas over large area in Excel

If you are not hitting a resource limitation, these are the most common resolutions.

Resolution

Follow the provided methods in this article to resolve the available resource error message in Excel. If you have previously tried one of these methods and it did not help, go to another method from this list:
 

Method 1: Contents of the spreadsheet


The first thing to determine is if the error is specific to one workbook (or others created from the same template). Typical actions that cause memory error messages are:
  • Inserting a row or column
  • Sorting
  • Performing calculations
  • Copy and pasting 
  • Opening or closing the workbook
  • Running VBA

If you are seeing the error when performing any of the above actions, it's time to look to determine what is going on in your file. These will be addressed in the sections below.


Calculations

If you are inserting rows and columns, performing calculations, or copying and pasting and receive the message, it can be tied to formulas having to recalculate. 

Consider this scenario:

You have a spreadsheet with 1 million formulas on a sheet and you insert a new column. This will force Excel to recalculate all the formulas in the spreadsheet adjusting for the new column that you inserted. It is very possible, depending on the complexity of your spreadsheet, bitness of Excel, and how the spreadsheet is built, and what formulas are used, that you receive the out of resources error.

The following articles address how to optimize performance with calculations

Excel 2010 Performance: Tips for Optimizing Performance Obstructions

Excel 2010 Performance: Improving Calculation Performance

Other Spreadsheet Elements

Other areas that can cause the memory issues are excess shapes, complex PivotTables, macros, and complex charts with many data points. The following article walks through identifying and fixing these issues.

Top 10 List of Performance Issues in Excel Workbooks


If your issue is not resolved after you clean up the file, go to method 2. 

Method 2: Verify/install the latest updates


You might have to set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended updates. Installing any important, recommended, and optional updates can frequently correct problems by replacing out-of-date files and fixing vulnerabilities. To install the latest Office updates, click the link specific to your version of Windows and follow the steps in that article.


Operating system updates:

Install Windows updates


Office updates:

For more information about Office updates, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 953878 Cumulative updates are available from the Microsoft Office team to fix reported problems  

If your issue is not resolved after you install the updates, go to method 3. 

Method 3: Add-ins interfering 

Check the Add-ins that are running, and try disabling them to see if Excel is working properly. Follow the directions in the following article to disable the add-ins. 

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel-help/load-or-unload-add-in-programs-HP010096834.aspx

If you find that Excel is no longer giving you the error after you remove the add-ins, then it is recommended to contact the manufacturer of the add-in for support. 


If your issue is not resolved after you remove the add-ins, go to method 4. 
 

Method 4: Test disabling Preview/Details Pane in Windows 7

If you are running Windows 7, try disabling the preview and details panes in Windows. You will have to disable them in three locations. 

Windows Explorer:
1. Right click on Start button
2. Click Open Windows Explorer
3. Click Organize | Layout
4. Uncheck Details Pane and Preview Pane
Excel:
1. Click File | Open
2. Click Organize | Layout
3. Uncheck Details Pane and Preview Pane

Outlook:
1. Open a new e-mail
2. In the "Include" group on the Ribbon, click Attach File
3. Click Organize | Layout
4. Uncheck Details Pane and Preview Pane

If your issue is not resolved after you turn off preview and details panes, go to method 5. 


Method 5: Test a different Default Printer

When Excel launches, it uses the default printer to help render the file. Try testing with the "Microsoft XPS Document Writer" as the default printer and see if we continue to get the error. To do this;
  1. Close Excel
  2. Open the printer and faxes window (XP) or Devices and Printers (Vista, 7, 8)
  3. Right click the "Microsoft XPS Document Writer" printer
  4. Click Set as Default
 If your issue is not resolved after you change your default printer, go to method 6.


Method 6: Test without Antivirus 

Antivirus can sometimes cause problems by continuously trying to scan the Excel file or something in the file. Many times the memory error will be random and will be found with any spreadsheet. Test this by shutting off the antivirus temporarily, or by not having Excel files scanned. In some cases the AV will need to be removed.  

If your issue is not resolved after you turn off antivirus, go to method 7.


Method 7: Test with 64 bit version of Excel


Working with large Excel files can use the memory available to the 32 bit Excel application. In any 32 bit application there is a 2 GB limitation.

If your processes need to use more than 2 GB's, then you need to carefully consider moving to Microsoft Excel 64 bit version. The 64 bit version will allow all available physical RAM on the machine to be used. If you are interested in researching 64 bit versions, see the information below.

64-bit editions of Office 2010

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee681792(v=office.14).aspx

Excel 2010 – Now With More Bits!

If your issue is not resolved after testing on 64 bit, go to method 8.


Method 8: Other applications are consuming the computer's memory and not enough is being allocated to Excel.

Does the message clear up for some time after you reboot or shut off some of your applications? That's probably a good sign this is your issue, follow the steps to shut down some of the extra applications running on your computer. 

How to perform a clean boot to troubleshoot a problem in Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista  
 


More information

Additional KB

Excel cannot complete this task with available resources error, Excel 2010



If the information in this knowledge base article did not help resolve the error in Excel, select one of the following options: 
Note This is a "FAST PUBLISH" article created directly from within the Microsoft support organization. The information contained herein is provided as-is in response to emerging issues. As a result of the speed in making it available, the materials may include typographical errors and may be revised at any time without notice. See Terms of Use for other considerations.

Properties

Article ID: 2779852 - Last Review: April 19, 2013 - Revision: 1.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Excel 2010
Keywords: 
KB2779852

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