Not Enough Resources to Delete Rows and Columns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 5, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Harvey has a large Excel worksheet, cuurently 700 columns and 1000 rows. It has formulas in about 600 of those columns, some of which refer to other worksheets held on the server. In total there are about 420,000 formulas in the worksheet. He needs to delete some rows and columns, but Excel gives an error message that he does not have enough resources. Harvey has Googled the problem and tried all the suggested solutions but still has the problem. He wonders if there are any thoughts as to how he can remove the columns and rows.

Tracking down and correcting this type of problem can be frustrating, as it could be caused by any number of things. (Microsoft isn't that great on providing helpful information in some of its error messages; this particular message is a prime example.) There are a few things you can try that are quite easy.

  • Turn off automatic calculation before you attempt to do the deletions.
  • Delete rows and columns one row and column at a time, rather than deleting large numbers of rows and columns at once.
  • Clear the contents of the columns and rows instead of deleting them. Save after the clearing and then try to delete the previously cleared columns and rows.
  • Restart your system, open Excel before anything else, and try to do the deletion.
  • Try opening the workbook on a different machine or in a later version of Excel.
  • Use Save As to store the workbook on a local drive, then open the new version of the workbook and do the deletions.

If these suggestioins don't work, then you'll need to continue with the trial-and-error process. You can find some good information on possible solutions on this page:

The advice on the page is particularly good if you suspect that the resource issue is related to a misbehaving add-in.

You might also check to see if you are pushing the limits imposed on Excel by Microsoft. You can find information on these limits here:

Note that this page also provides access to a "workbook size optimizer." You might find this tool helpful in reducing the size of your workbook and thereby freeing up resources.

Finally, it could be that your workbook is slightly corrupted. (I've had this happen to me with much smaller workbooks.) The best solution in this case is to copy the data from the worksheet to a new workbook. Don't copy or move entire worksheets; you need to copy the actual data. You might even try to save your workbook as a CSV file and then load the CSV file into a different workbook. You will lose formatting in this manner, but everything else should come across just fine.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (407) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is five more than 6?

2016-12-27 22:31:01


One thing I finally found was causing this issue for me for months was that if your workbook performs web queries or data connections, these can be stored by Excel and accumulate over time leading what should be a small workbook to use GBs of memory and throw the available resources error. I finally found the solution to clean up this problem at This completely solved my problem, bringing my workbook's memory usage down from GBs to MBs.

2016-08-03 07:19:08

Dick Nell

I recognize this problem. What also can help is first do some kind of sorting so the deleted data is joined in the sheet. If you expect this resource message to appear you may also add a column where you mark the rows that should be deleted, next you sort on this column so the deleted rows are at the very end of the data. Then deleting the rows will usually work.

2016-08-01 07:52:33

Allen Farnworth

Another cause of resource problems can be running more than one Workbook. Each workbook you open which contains macros or VBA programming grabs resources and these resources are not released when the workbook is closed. Close Excel, restart and then re-open only the workbook you are having problems with. You will now have more resources. Whether you will have enough resources or not remains to be seen.

2016-08-01 04:33:33


You can also know the Used Range in a worksheet without VBA, simply using Ctrl-End key combination. this Range is refreshed any time the workbook is saved.
If no data is present at this point, the resaon is you used Clear instead of Delete. Then you should Delete those unused rows or columns that make the file bigger and slower to use.

2016-08-01 03:57:27

Brian Rowe

I have had numerous situations where it appears that you are only using a few rows and/or columns. Depending upon the way rows (or cell content) has been deleted, Excel still counts these rows as being used, therefore slowing down calculations and actions. In the immediate window, within the VBA editor you can confirm the number of rows / columns used with the following code:



This will at least help clarify your issue...

2016-07-30 05:18:32


Have you ever encountered a situation where Excel cannot complete your task with available resources in your computer?

If the Undo history is disabled, no memory will be allocated for it. Excel can use the maximum memory available in your computer, when Undo levels are set to zero.

The Undo setting cannot be changed from Excel options. The Microsoft article 211922 describes how to modify the Excel's undo levels using the registry editor. Modifying the registry manually may cause serious problems that may require Windows to be re-installed in extreme cases.

Our free Excel Addin lets users change or disable Undo levels without the risk of registry corruption.

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