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Excel Going Black

Posted on 2014-10-03
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Last Modified: 2014-10-09
I have a few users who are having an issue with Excel spreadsheets. They mainly deal with spreadsheets from Cisco, such as the pricing tools which only use .xls not xlsx. They are all running in compatibility mode as Cisco doesn't accept .xlsx on their site.   do not believe they are running macro's.

At random times, these users will experience all of their Excel spreadsheets going black that are open. Not that the cells are being formatted differently, but as if Excel has crashed or is just not able to display the data. If we close them through task manager, they reopen and look fine.

We have not seen a commonality to when this problem happens, but seems random at this point and will occur several times a day.

Any help in narrowing the problem down would be a huge help!
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Question by:Awesome Itguys
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by:ProfessorJimJam
ID: 40359709
i have a feeling this is a duplicate question. i must have seen this before. or perhaps Déjà vu
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by:Glenn Ray
Glenn Ray earned 250 total points
ID: 40359797
Is the behavior similar to the examples shown in this EE thread?

Excel lines turning black

If so, I agree with the solution that teylyn suggested:  there are likely workstation-specific issues.  It could be hardware (ex., graphics cards) or software (ex., Service Pack updates).

-Glenn
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Author Comment

by:Awesome Itguys
ID: 40359935
My last one was closed by the site admin, so I had re-posted to get it back up and view-able.

I did see that post, and it is somewhat similar in terms of the black screen, but it doesn't come back with scrolling/clicking like in that thread.
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Accepted Solution

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C. Blaise Mitsutama earned 250 total points
ID: 40362404
When troubleshooting, you can't assume anything. This is how I would go about troubleshooting this issue:

1. You stated "I have a few users who are having an issue with Excel spreadsheets."
     a. Is the problem limited to those who use the Cisco files or do non-Cisco Excel files ever show this problem? If you're not sure, have the users open/modify/close several non-Cisco files throughout the day to see if the problem can be replicated.
2. What version of Excel is used by those having the black screen problem?
3. Do you know what version of Excel was used to create the Cisco tools?
4. Are all affected users on the same version of Windows? If so, what version is it? 32-bit or 64-bit?
5. What happens if files are saved as .xlsx files without Compatibility Mode? (I understand that Cisco doesn't accept .xlsx on their site, but this is for troubleshooting purposes only.) If the files work as .xlsx files, it may be possible to update the files as .xlsx, then save the files as .xls using Compatibility Mode.
6. You state that you don't believe that macros are running, but have you actually checked the Cisco files to verify that?
7. Have you checked for any Add-ins that may be installed in Excel?
8. You state that this happens "at random times," but have you verified that there is no commonality? Does it happen on different worksheets in the Cisco files? Does it happen when a specific operation is being executed?

As Glenn Ray stated in his post, the likely cause is either hardware- or software-related. This is true even though the symptoms described in the EE thread linked in his post aren't exactly the same as your users are experiencing. Differences in the symptoms may be due to different graphic cards, device drivers, or Service Packs.

I recommend following the steps suggested in that EE thread:

1. Check for updates to device drivers.
2. Verify that all Service Packs have been installed.
3. Check the graphics properties on the affected machines (status of hardware acceleration and refresh rate) and reset to default values for testing purposes.

I hope this helps.

- Blaise
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Author Closing Comment

by:Awesome Itguys
ID: 40371687
I wanted to give it a few days to verify, but it seems a driver update, specifically the video worked. Thanks, all.
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by:Glenn Ray
ID: 40371731
I'm saving this thread because of the very thorough and well-written post by Blaise.  Good methodology.
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by:C. Blaise Mitsutama
ID: 40371820
I'm glad that the OP was able to solve the problem and thanks to Glenn Ray for linking to the other EE thread.
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