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Why isn't Workbooks fast for me? Why is it slow?

Workbooks Support Posted: 2011-03-03 17:13

There are many things that can affect the speed with which Workbooks runs.  The information below should help you to identify why Workbooks may not be performing as quickly as expected so you can take steps to improve the situation.

Workbooks' speed depends on:

  1. Your web browser.

  2. The computer you are running that browser on and any anti-virus or security software you may have installed.

  3. Your connection to the Internet.

  4. The Workbooks service.

In general you should start at the top and work down the list before contacting us. 

1. Which web browser are you using?

You can use any of the main browsers with Workbooks - Firefox, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari* or Opera.  Because we deliver a compelling rich User Interface in Workbooks, the better the browser, the better the user experience will be.  If you use a better browser your experience of other websites is likely to be better too. 

Our recommendation is simply to use the latest stable version of your chosen browser.  

If we're pushed, we'll recommend Google Chrome - Chrome is the fastest browser available.

*Note that Safari is not supported in a Windows environment. 

2. Your Computer

Workbooks is designed to run on mainstream computers. If you have a Netbook it may run slowly so the instructions above about browser selection, and those below about looking at what else is running, are particularly important.  Netbooks based on Intel Atom processors are particularly likely to be slow.

Use Windows Task Manager

Your browser is not the only thing running on your computer. If it does not have the resources it needs to run well your browser will run slowly and so will Workbooks.  If you use Windows use Task Manager (use Control-Alt-Del to invoke it) and take a look in the Performance tab. Is the CPU Usage occasionally very high or consistently higher than a few (say 20) percent? Is the Physical Memory almost all used?


Windows Task Manager - Performance tab

On the Processes tab do you have lots of processes running?  You can click on column names to sort the list of running processes. If there is a lot going on look at what other applications you can close and whether some are particularly resource-intensive. 

Windows Task Manager - Processes tab

Your Anti-Virus Software

If things are still slow, try disabling this for a few minutes while using Workbooks (be sure to enable this when you are done!) Sometimes internet security software, such as Anti-Virus (AV) software, attempts to analyse the contents of web pages - and Workbooks' is a particularly large and complex one.  If this improves performance then look at whether you can configure this software to whitelist the Workbooks site.  We have had experience of similar issues with a number of well-known security products.

Power-Saving Modes

Especially if you use a laptop, take a look at the power saving options.  If your laptop is in a power-saving mode it will run significantly slower than it is capable of doing.

Do you have lots of screens open in Workbooks?

You can control how much information Workbooks displays in Workbooks Start > Preferences > Desktop Interface. Running Workbooks with lots of screens open is likely to slow down your Workbooks session.  The amount of time taken to display Workbooks in your web browser is linked to the amount of information you choose to display. 

Are you displaying lots of rows per page?

You can specify how many rows of information are displayed in grids in Start > Preferences > Lists.  The default setting is 20.  Workbooks will run faster if you keep this number small.

3. Investigate your Internet connection

We have done extensive research and Workbooks copes surprisingly well over a poor network connection. It runs well over very long distances and over very poor networks.  If you are able to use streaming websites such as You Tube or iPlayer then it is unlikely that you have a network issue.  Are you or a colleague using the Internet to download large files?  If you are unsure, there are a number of sites on the Internet which give you an idea of the state of your internet connection:

  • Speedtest - Go to to test the speed of your Internet connection.  Click Begin Test.

  • Pingtest - Go to to determine the quality of your broadband Internet connection. Click Begin Test, then review your results.

Finally, if your network connection is via a proxy system which analyses your web traffic, take a look to see whether that is introducing any delays. As noted above Workbooks is a particularly large and complex web application for such systems to analyse.  Look at whether you can configure this system to whitelist the Workbooks site. 

4. The Workbooks service

If there are any issues on the Workbooks service they would be likely to affect many users and we would work to resolve them promptly. In practice this is rare.  If there are issues relating to your account in particular, our engineers can see which of your requests have run slowly on the service and we proactively investigate these as a matter of course.

If you do contact us our engineers may ask you to use the following keystroke within Workbooks to bring up a special performance-view window: Shift Alt F2.  Note that on some keyboards you may also need to use a 'function' key to invoke this. The window is a little cryptic but does include information about how long it takes to fetch data from the service and how long it takes the browser to draw windows on the Desktop.