Excel: How to Troubleshoot Crashing and Not Responding Issues with Excel


When you open or use Microsoft Excel, Excel crashes, hangs, freezes, or stops working. Additionally, you may receive one of the following error message:

Excel is not responding.

Excel has stopped working.
A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available.


Problems with Excel crashing or hanging can be caused by several things. The following is a list of possible resolutions.


Use the following methods in the order in which they are presented. If you try one of these methods and it does not help, go to the next method.

Method 1: 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 Installing any important, recommended, and optional updates can frequently correct problems by replacing out-of-date files and fixing vulnerabilities.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

Office updates

 For more information about the latest Office updates, see Office Updates. If your issue is not resolved after you install the latest Windows and Office updates, go to method 2.

Method 2: Scan Excel for Known Issues

To help you methodically identify and resolve known causes of instability in Office programs, a diagnostic tool that is known as the Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) was developed for customers by a team of escalation engineers from Microsoft Support.

2939112 How to resolve crashing or stability issues in Office programs by using the OffCAT tool

Method 3: Start Excel in safe mode

Safe mode lets you safely use Excel without encountering certain startup programs. You can open Excel in safe mode by pressing and holding Ctrl while you start the program or by using the "/safe" (that is, excel.exe /safe) option when you start the program from the command line. When you run Excel in safe mode, it bypasses functionality and settings such as alternative startup location, changed toolbars, the xlstart folder, and Excel add-ins. (However, COM add-ins are excluded.)

If your issue is resolved after you run Excel in safe mode, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
280504 How to troubleshoot startup problems in Excel

If your issue is not resolved after you start Excel in safe mode, go to method 3.

Method 4: Investigate possible issues with COM add-ins 

Many developers create add-ins for Excel. These add-ins are divided into two types:
  • Excel add-ins that are saved as .xla, .xlam, or .xll files.
  • COM add-ins. These add-ins usually have to be installed and include DLLs and registry keys. COM add-ins created for one version of Excel frequently are not compatible with a newer version, and may cause crashes. They are not disabled by Safe mode, and should be investigated separately.

To disable COM add-ins, follow these steps:
  1. Select File > Options > Add-ins.
  2. At the bottom of the dialog box, change the Manage dropdown to COM add-ins, and select Go.
  3. Clear the checkbox for any enabled COM add-ins. select OK.
If disabling the COM add-ins alleviates the issue, try enabling them one at a time to test for the problem add-in.If these steps do not resolve your issue, continue to method 5.

Method 5: Investigate Excel file details and contents

Excel files can exist on the computer for a long time. They are upgraded from version to version and frequently travel from one user to another user. Frequently, a user inherits an Excel file but doesn't know what is included in the file. The following areas can cause performance or crashing issues:
  • Formulas referencing entire columns.
  • Array formulas referencing an uneven number of elements in the arguments.
  • Hundreds, or perhaps thousands of hidden or 0 height and width object
  • Excessive styles caused by frequent copying and pasting between books
  • Excessive and invalid defined names
If these steps do not resolve your issue, continue to method 6.

Method 6: Check whether your file is being generated by a third party

Sometimes Excel files are generated by a third-party application. In this case, the files may be generated incorrectly, and some features may not work correctly when you open the files in Excel. If this occurs, test the features in new files outside the third-party application. If the features work correctly, you should make sure that the third party is aware of the issue.

If your issue is not resolved after you test it outside the third-party application, go to method 7.

Method 7: Perform a selective startup to determine whether a program, process, or service conflicts with Excel

When you start Windows as usual, several applications and services start automatically and then run in the background. These applications and services can interfere with other software on your PC. Performing a selective startup (also known as a "clean boot") can help you identify problems with conflicting applications. To perform a selective startup, click one of the following links, depending on your version of Windows, and then follow the steps in the article:

Selective startup is used to help identify the offending process, service, or application that conflicts with Excel.

If your issue is not resolved after you re-create the profile, go to method 8.

Method 8: Check whether your antivirus software is up to date or is conflicting with Excel

Antivirus software can interfere with Excel, and cause performance issues. Frequently updating your AV software can alleviate the issue.

How to check whether your antivirus software is up to date

To keep up with new viruses that are created, antivirus software vendors periodically provide updates that you can download from the Internet. Download the latest updates by visiting your antivirus software vendor’s website. For a list of antivirus software vendors, go to the following Microsoft website:

Consumer security software providers

How to check whether antivirus software is conflicting with Excel

If your antivirus software includes integration with Excel, you may experience performance issues. In this case, you can disable all Excel integration within the antivirus software by creating exceptions for Excel files.

Important Changing your antivirus settings may make your PC vulnerable to viral, fraudulent, or malicious attacks. We do not recommend that you try to change your antivirus settings. Use this workaround at your own risk. You may have to contact your antivirus software vendor to determine how to configure software to exclude any integration with Excel.

If updating your antivirus software, and excluding it from integrating with Excel does not resolve your issue, continue to the advanced troubleshooting section.

Advanced troubleshooting

If the methods that were mentioned earlier did not resolve your issue, the issue could be either file specific or environmental. The following section describes how to troubleshoot additional issue that can cause Excel to hang or to crash.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors are just as important as file contents and add-ins when you are troubleshooting crashes. You can help us determine the cause of your issue by taking the following actions:
  • Follow basic troubleshooting steps.
  • Test files in the cleanest possible environment.
The following sections describe some areas that are worth investigating.

Where the file is stored
Moving the file locally will help determine whether there is something wrong with the file or with where the file is saved. Several issues can arise when you save an Excel file over a network or to a web server. It is a good idea to save the file locally. This should be done in the following scenarios:

• Redirected "My Documents" folder to server location

• Offline files

• Opening files from Webfolder or SharePoint

• Remote Desktop/Citrix

• Network appliances

• Virtualized environment. For more information about Microsoft software that is running in a virtualized environment, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
897615 Support policy for Microsoft software running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software

Excel files can grow fairly large when you start adding lots of formatting and shapes. Make sure that your system has enough RAM to run the application. For system requirements of the Microsoft Office suites, go to the following Microsoft websites:

Office 2010 introduced native 64-bit versions of Office products to take advantage of this larger capacity. For example, this additional capacity is needed only by those Microsoft Excel users who require Excel spreadsheets to access more than 2 gigabytes (GB) of addressable memory. To read more about Excel and 64-bit editions of Office, go to the following Microsoft websites:

Printers and video drivers
When Excel is started, it examines the default printer and video drivers that will display the Excel workbooks. Excel is printer-intensive. Therefore, it will run even slower when Excel files are saved in Page Break Preview view. Testing the file by using different printers such as the Microsoft XPS Document Writer printer driver or the VGA video driver will determine whether the problem is with a specific printer or video driver.

More Information

If you still have hanging or crashing issues in Excel after you work through the resolution methods that are mentioned here, you should contact Microsoft Support for guided troubleshooting. 

Article ID: 2758592 - Last Review: Nov 10, 2016 - Revision: 1