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Why is Google Sheets So Slow? 30 Common Reasons (2024 Update)

May 8, 2024
google sheets slow

Google Sheets Running Slow: 30 Common Reasons

Google Sheets can become slow for several reasons, which may often be related to the size and complexity of the spreadsheet or the device and network you're using. Here are the most common causes and their solutions:

1. Large Data Volume

Sheets with a large number of rows, columns, complex formulas, or extensive data can slow down. Reduce the size by removing unnecessary data, splitting data into multiple sheets, or using data validation to limit inputs.

2. Complex Formulas and Functions

Extensive use of complex formulas, array formulas, or volatile functions (e.g., INDIRECT, TODAY) recalculates frequently, causing delays. Optimize formulas by using simpler functions or pre-calculating values in separate cells.

3. Excessive Conditional Formatting or Scripts

Overuse of conditional formatting or Google Apps Script can reduce performance. Limit conditional formatting to necessary cells and optimize script efficiency.

4. Many External References or Import Functions

Sheets importing data from external sources (e.g., IMPORTRANGE, GOOGLEFINANCE) can lag, especially if those sources are slow or unavailable. Minimize the use of external references and consider manually updating data at less frequent intervals.

5. Browser Issues

An outdated browser, browser extensions, or cache can impact Sheets' performance. Update your browser, disable unnecessary extensions, and clear your browser's cache.

6. Device Limitations

Older devices with limited RAM or processing power struggle with complex Sheets. Use a more powerful device or close other applications to free up resources.

7. Internet Connection

A slow or unstable internet connection affects Sheets, which is cloud-based. Test your internet speed and improve your connection if necessary, either by troubleshooting your current setup or upgrading your service.

8. Shared Sheets with Multiple Editors

Sheets shared with many users can experience lag, especially with simultaneous edits. Limit the number of concurrent editors or use Google Sheets at less busy times.

9. Too Many Charts or Images

Sheets with a high number of embedded charts or images can load slowly. Reduce the number of charts and images or simplify them.

10. Browser Hardware Acceleration Disabled

Some browsers can use your device's hardware to speed up processes, and having this disabled can affect performance. Enable hardware acceleration in your browser's settings.

11. ArrayFormula Overuse

Extensive use of ARRAYFORMULA can recalculate a large range of cells unnecessarily. Apply ARRAYFORMULA only where needed and consider breaking down large arrays into smaller, more manageable segments.

12. Non-Optimal Use of Volatile Functions

Functions like RAND(), NOW(), and TODAY() cause recalculation every time the sheet changes or refreshes. Use volatile functions sparingly and replace them with static values where possible.

13. Excessive Comments and Notes

A large number of comments or notes in a document can slow down loading times. Remove unnecessary comments and notes or archive them outside of Google Sheets.

14. Multiple Open Tabs

Having multiple sheets or browser tabs open can strain your device's resources. Close unnecessary tabs or use separate windows to improve performance.

15. Data Validation in Excess

Overuse of data validation rules, especially across many cells, can impact performance. Limit data validation to critical cells and simplify rules where possible.

16. Cell Merging Overuse

Excessive merging of cells can complicate the document structure and slow down performance. Use cell merging sparingly and consider alternative formatting options.

17. Using INDIRECT() Function Excessively

This function recalculates often and can significantly slow down your sheet when used frequently. Reduce reliance on INDIRECT() by structuring your data more efficiently or using static references.

18. Heavy Use of FILTER() or QUERY() Functions

These functions, especially when nested or used on large data sets, can be resource-intensive. Simplify or break down complex FILTER() or QUERY() functions into smaller, more manageable parts.

19. Embedded Google Forms

Sheets connected to Google Forms, especially with high response volumes, can experience performance issues. Regularly archive form responses to a separate sheet or database to keep the active sheet lightweight.

20. Importing Large Images or Objects

Large image files or other embedded objects can slow down your sheet. Reduce image sizes, limit the number of images, or link to images hosted elsewhere instead of embedding them directly.

21. Pivot Tables Overuse

Multiple or complex pivot tables in a single sheet can degrade performance. Simplify pivot tables, ensure they're only refreshing when necessary, and remove unused pivot tables.

22. Using Old Spreadsheet Versions

Older versions of Sheets might not be as optimized as the latest versions. Ensure you're using the latest version of Google Sheets by checking for updates in your browser or app store.

23. Conflicting Browser Extensions

Some browser extensions can interfere with Google Sheets. Identify and disable extensions that might conflict with Google Sheets.

24. Excessive Bookmarks and Hyperlinks

A large number of bookmarks or hyperlinks within a sheet can affect its performance. Limit the use of bookmarks and hyperlinks to those that are essential.

25. Lengthy Text Strings

Cells containing excessively long text strings can slow down calculations and rendering. Shorten text strings and use text splitting or concatenation functions wisely.

26. Overlapping Conditional Formatting Rules

Multiple conditional formatting rules applying to the same range can cause performance issues. Consolidate and simplify overlapping rules to minimize their impact.

27. Automatic Calculation Settings

By default, Google Sheets recalculates formulas whenever changes are made, which can slow down large sheets. Although you can't directly change calculation settings like in Excel, you can structure your work to minimize unnecessary recalculations, such as avoiding or breaking down complex chain calculations.

28. Outdated Device Drivers or OS

Running Google Sheets on a device with outdated hardware or software can impact performance. Update your operating system and drivers to ensure your device runs optimally.

29. Lack of Sheet Organization

Poorly organized data can lead to inefficient formula usage and navigation. Organize your sheets using clear headers, named ranges, and tabs to make data management more efficient.

30. Failure to Use Named Ranges

Not using named ranges can make formulas harder to read and manage, potentially leading to inefficiencies. Use named ranges for cells or ranges you frequently reference, improving readability and possibly performance.

why is google sheets so slow

We hope that this article has helped you and given you a better understanding of why Google Sheets is running slow. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our articles on how to assign a task in Google Sheets and how to set up a custom number format in Google Sheets for millions.

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