PowerPivot keeps crashing or gives nonsensical results

A newsletter subscriber, Stefan Hefer, recently informed us of a problem he was having with PowerPivot and his current understanding of what it is. It might be useful to other people working on PowerPivot in Excel.

The symptoms of the problem were:

  • Powerpivot crashes Excel- when refreshing the data Excel closes down with no error messages, simply a crash.
  • Information in the Excel table and the PowerPivot table differs e.g. with date formats
  • Powerpivot measures give the wrong result or for date periods that don’t exist.

After much frustration he believes the problem is to do with the hardware and software on his machine.

As he put it

… I was running a 32-bit MS Office installation on a 64-Bit Lenovo Thinkpad X240 with 4G of RAM. This specific combination does not work for reasons we cannot contemplate!

 

If I run the exact same model on any other laptop or desktop with any other combination of Office 2010 (32 Bit, 64 Bit) and irrespective of the amount of RAM installed, it works. It doesn’t even run on my laptop if I increase the RAM. If I run the same model with a 64-Bit Office 2013 install on my computer, it works though… I even had the model tested on a different continent!

 

This is what caused my headache for how long now? And I cannot really explain it.

So if you are having problems, look at your hardware/ software combination. It may just require a change in the software to match the hardware.

What this does emphasise is that, whether you like it or not, you must always sense check your numbers. Strangely a computer system crashing is the preference as you know that there is a problem. It’s when it doesn’t give you any warning and just does the incorrect calculations that the real problems start.