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Excel Running Slow? We Know. See How Trifacta Can Help

June 16, 2017

Excel running slow” is a common complaint for more and more users. Excel’s ubiquity and ease of use are its strengths, but Excel runs slow when tackling large data sets. We’ve said it before: the simple fact is that Excel’s framework for data processing wasn’t made for big data. It’s not just that Excel becomes error-prone with big data sets. When you add complicated functions to big datathink vlookup or pivotExcel can slow to an excruciatingly slow rate or even crash, making efficient business intelligence impossible.

Excel Running Slow? Everyone knows.

With hundreds of millions of users, Excel will no doubt remain the most common reporting tool for those dealing with small data files. However, a recent survey of 6,000 financial professionals and accountants by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and FinancialForce shows a growing trend of abandoning the product. According to the study, 60% of U.S. companies are still using spreadsheets, while 21% are planning to implement another software solution. The most common reasons for the departure were—you guessed it—Excel running slow and error-filled spreadsheets.

Fortunately, a better solution now exists.

4 Reasons Why Excel Slows Down

Petabytes of data have become the norm, not the exception. Excel wasn’t built to handle massive data sets, Hadoop clusters and enormous data lakes, and that’s why Excel’s running slow. Here are just four examples:

Manual Calculation Mode:
Excel defaults to recalculating all formulas in real time as soon as you enter them, which makes it obvious when Excel is running slow. Changing to a manual calculation—refreshed only when the F9 key is hit—can assert some control over when Excel recalculates, but it’s important to note that enabling manual calculation will not speed up Excel’s ability to perform calculations.

Conversion of Formulas into Static Values:
On large datasets, you’ll notice Excel running slow any time you apply a formula. To accelerate time to insight, you can copy the column with the formula and paste it as values), then delete the formula column. But there are risks: you could lose the rules that created these newly-pasted values, determining how you got to your final numbers will be next to impossible for outside auditors, and all future maintenance will have to be completed manually.

The VLOOKUP or PIVOT Function:
These extremely time-consuming functions will always slow down your workbooks when dealing with large data sets. Is it possible to not to use them? Given that VLOOKUP and Pivot Function’s are the highest functioning techniques used to manipulate data in Excel, most businesses do not consider this an option.

Cartesian Limits:
Excel maxes out at 1 million rows. Not only will it be Excel running slow, you’ll be running slow as you have to split your time between multiple spreadsheets. And you could miss the big picture as you try to splice it all together.

Frustrated by Excel Running Slow? Trifacta Can Help.

Trifacta has employed a better approach to data wrangling that leverages a best-in-class data processing engine, while also offering interactive feedback on all data transformations. Trifacta’s high-performance data wrangling engine, Photon, enables faster feedback on greater volumes of data, which leads to huge productivity gains for all of our userswhich should be great news to anyone tired of Excel running slow.

Trifacta’s Intelligent Execution Architecture maintains support for a growing list of modern data processing engines, such as Spark, Google Data Flow and MapReduce. When you open a large dataset, the application automatically presents compelling visual representations of your data. When you brush over or click onto certain elements, Trifacta will suggest logical transforms that you can select, edit, or build from scratch with real time feedback. The process is seamless for users, who can also  leverage Trifacta’s at-scale profiling to examine the validity of the resulting output data set and search for any remaining data inconsistencies.

Leveraging an intelligent visual interface and powerful compute framework, Trifacta has been able to provide the best user experience for analysts—keeping interactions agile and reactive—while delegating the heavy processing to the right engine. All of this means you get to stop waiting for Excel, running slowly, and get back to the fun part of your job: finding amazing insights.

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