Windows is weird.
A year ago I wrote an article about an Excel bug: occasionally there is a 30-60 second delay after clicking on an .XLSX file before the Excel logo appears and the file opens.
I have a possible fix. Your mileage might vary – maybe it won’t apply to you, maybe it won’t work.
If you have a Dell computer, Excel might be opening slowly because of a conflict with the Realtek sound card – the audio device that sends sounds to the speakers.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, that makes no sense. I scoff at your uninformed opinion because I am a trained IT specialist with decades of experience. And based on that accumulated knowledge, I can tell you with far greater authority: that makes no sense.
Okay, you got lucky this time.
The Possible Fix
Symptom: You click on a spreadsheet in File Explorer when Excel is not already open. There is a delay of 30 seconds – 2 minutes before the Excel logo appears and the file opens. If you open Excel directly, it opens immediately. If you click on a saved file when Excel is already running, it opens immediately.
Possible fix: If this happens on a Dell computer, open Services (click on Start, type in services.msc and hit Enter) and look for a service named “Waves MaxxAudio Service Application” or “Waves System Service.” Double-click it and stop it, then set it to Disabled. See if Excel files open normally. If so, that’s the fix – but you will likely have to do the same thing each time the computer restarts.
If you don’t have one of those services, you may not have a Realtek sound card and this doesn’t apply to you. You can check in Device Manager. Click on Start, type in devmgmt.msc and hit Enter. Expand Sound, Video & Game Controllers and look for a Realtek product.
Another possible fix: go to Dell’s website and click on Support / Drivers & Downloads. Fill in your Service Tag or run the small program to detect your system automatically. Look under Audio and install updated drivers for the Realtek soundcard, if any. Restart your computer and see if Excel behaves normally.
A week ago loyal reader Glynn left a comment on my article saying that he had solved the slow Excel file problem on a Dell Optiplex 3050 workstation by disabling the Waves MaxxAudio Pro service. Four other people have commented in the last week to confirm that it fixed the problem for them too.
I began looking around. The tip has turned up a few other places in the last couple of months – in a comment here, for example.
This week it has turned into an officially acknowledged bug. The screen shot above is from a Dell support page that has just turned up, to the best of my knowledge. According to Dell:
“You may see an issue when you try to open a saved (Hard Drive, USB Drive, Network Drive…) Excel spreadsheet and it may take 1-2 minutes before you will see the Excel splash screen when the file opens. This behavior should not happen if you open a new Excel spreadsheet and then open a saved Excel spreadsheet.
“The best solution to resolve this behavior, is to disable the Waves MaxxAudio Service Application (Publisher Waves Audio Ltd.) service.
“Note: All the audio should still work fine and the MaxxAudio application will load. However, there is no way to remove the service or application. The service will re-enable after rebooting and will have to be disabled each time.”
So there you go, straight from Dell. The Realtek audio card and Waves services are included with most Optiplex workstations. I have them on my Dell XPS 8900 tower. Tonight I installed an update to the Realtek driver and disabled the Waves service and – well, so far all my Excel spreadsheets are opening at full speed. I can’t be sure that the problem is fixed but I’m optimistic.
So one of Microsoft’s flagship programs is brought down by a sound card. Wow.
There’s a larger point to be made here: Windows is a lumbering beast of an operating system, overly complex and burdened by too many legacy pieces from too many manufacturers of too much hardware and software.
Or, to put it another way:
Windows is weird.