Excel 2003 hangs when opening files from the network

Recently we have seen a lot of users experience extreme slowness or hanging when opening Excel files from a network location.  PCs that are running XP and 2003 are affected whilst those using W7/Office 2003 or XP/Office 2007 or 2010 are fine.

After much searching the fix was actually a recent help article from Microsoft.  After you install MS11-021 and the Office File Validation (OFV) Add-in for Office 2003 (KB 2501584), workbooks stored in a network location open slower over the network in Excel 2003 than they did without the OFV installed. The decrease in performance depends on the size of the workbook and bandwidth of the network and in some scenarios can seem to hang Excel.

Microsoft provide three fixes:

Method 1:
To be able to have both the protection of the OFV, and typical performance over the network when opening files, upgrade to either Microsoft Excel 2007 or Microsoft Excel 2010.

Method 2:
Copy the file to the local workstation. Open and save it in Excel from the local hard drive. Copy the file back to the network location.

Note: If multiple users are accessing the same file, you must be cautious to collaborate with the other users before you copy the file back to the share so that you do not overwrite the changes that were made by another user. The Shared Workbook feature cannot be used with this workaround.

Method 3:

To use Excel 2003 and avoid the network performance issue, you can disable the Microsoft Office File Validation Add-In for Excel by using a registry setting. This removes the additional protection of the OFV for Excel while still protecting the other Office applications.

Realistically, the only short term fix is Method 3!

Instructions to disable Microsoft Office File Validation Add-In are:

You can use the EnableOnLoad registry entry to configure how you want Excel to handle opening workbooks for the OFV. By default, the EnableOnLoad entry is not present in the Windows registry. To add the EnableOnLoadentry to the Windows registry, follow these steps:

  1. Exit Excel.
  2. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. Locate and then click to select the following registry key: **EDIT** Thanks to Frank in the comments , the proper key is ” HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftOffice11.0″ Old key “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftOffice11.0”
  4. After you select the key that is specified in step 3, point to New on the Edit menu, and then clickKey.
  5. Type Excel, and then press ENTER.
  6. Select Excel, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click Key.
  7. Type Security, and then press ENTER.
  8. Select Security, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click Key.
  9. Type FileValidation, and then press ENTER.
  10. Select FileValidation, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click DWORD Value.
  11. Type EnableOnLoad, and then press ENTER. Note: The default value is 0 which disables the validation.
  12. On the File menu, click Exit to quit Registry Editor.


This fix needs to be applied at a user level, and for that reason it would be a good idea to include in your logon script.  You can create a registry file called officefix.reg with the following content:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Then call the registry file with the following command:

Batch script
REGEDIT /S %filepath%officefix.reg       —      %filepath% is the path to the registry file.


objShel.Run “REGEDIT /S %filepath%officefix.reg”       —      %filepath% is the path to the registry file.

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