VBA: Improve Speed & Other Best Practices

Written by

Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Steve Rynearson

Last updated on March 15, 2024

This tutorial will discuss how to speed up VBA Macros and other VBA best practices.

Settings to Speed Up VBA Code

Below you will find several tips to speed up your VBA code. The tips are loosely organized by importance.

The easiest way to improve the speed of your VBA code is by disabling ScreenUpdating and disabling Automatic Calculations. These settings should be disabled in all large procedures.

Disable Screen Updating

By default, Excel will display changes to workbook(s) in real-time as VBA code runs. This causes a massive slowdown in processing speed as Excel most interpret and display changes for each line of code.

To turn off Screen Updating:

Application.ScreenUpdating = False

At the end of your macro, you should turn back on Screen Updating:

Application.ScreenUpdating = True

While your code is running, you may need to “refresh” the screen. There is no “refresh” command. Instead, you will need to turn Screen Updating back on and disable it again.

In practice, your macro should look like this:

VBASpeed ScreenUpdating

Set Calculations to Manual

Whenever a cell value is changed, Excel must follow the “calculation tree” to recalculate all dependent cells. Additionally, whenever a formula is changed, Excel will need to update the “calculation tree” in addition to re-calculating all dependent cells.  Depending on your workbook size, these recalculations can cause your macros to run unreasonably slow.

To set Calculations to Manual:

Application.Calculation = xlManual

To manually re-calculate the entire workbook:


Note you can also calculate only a sheet, range, or individual cell, if necessary for improved speed.

To restore Automatic Calculations (at the end of your procedure):

Application.Calculation = xlAutomatic

Important! This is an Excel setting. If you don’t re-set calculations to automatic your workbook will not re-calculate until you tell it to.

vba speed up code

In practice, your macro will look like this:

VBASpeed Calculations

You’ll see the biggest improvements from the above settings, but there are several other settings that can make a difference.

Risks Involved when Changing these Default Settings

Excel by default has the Screen Updating set to TRUE and the Calculations set to Automatic.  Using the code to switch off these settings in the Application will speed up your code considerably.  However, if we forget to switch these setting BACK ON, or if the code stops running before it gets to the lines of code that reset these settings, you might end up with an unresponsive Excel Screen (as the Screen will not update) or calculations that will not calculate unless you manually do so.

To solve this problem, always make sure you have an error trap in your code so that if an error does occur to stop the macro, make sure the macro jumps down to the lines of code that reset these settings.

VBASpeed Error

In the above example, we have created an Error Handler called EH.   If something goes wrong in the code, the macro will jump down to the EH and run the last 2 lines of code. As we have NOT put an Exit Sub in the macro above the error handler, if the macro runs perfectly, it will get to the 2 lines of code and reset these settings back to the default.

Other Settings

Disable Events

Events are “triggers” that cause special event procedures to run. Examples include: when any cell on a worksheet changes, when a worksheet is activated, when a workbook is opened, before a workbook is saved, etc.

Disabling events can cause minor speed improvements when any macros run, but the speed improvement can be much greater if your workbook uses events.  And in some cases disabling events is necessary to avoid creating endless loops.

To disable events:

Application.EnableEvents = False

To turn events back on:

Application.EnableEvents = True

Disable PageBreaks

Disabling PageBreaks can help in certain situations:

  • You’ve previously set a PageSetup property for the relevant worksheet and your VBA procedure modifies the properties of many rows or columns
  • OR Your VBA procedure forces Excel to calculate pagebreaks (displaying Print Preview or modifying any properties of PageSetup).

To disable PageBreaks:

ActiveSheet.DisplayPageBreaks = False

To re-enable PageBreaks:

ActiveSheet.DisplayPageBreaks = True

Best Practices to Improve VBA Speed

Avoid Activating and Selecting

When you record a Macro, you’ll see many Activate and Select methods:

Sub Slow_Example()
    ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "example"
    ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "demo"
End Sub

Activating and selecting objects is usually unnecessary, they add clutter to your code, and they are very time-consuming.  You should avoid this methods when possible.

Improved Example:

Sub Fast_Example()
    Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D9").FormulaR1C1 = "example"
    Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D12").FormulaR1C1 = "demo"
End Sub

Avoid Copying and Pasting

Copying requires significant memory. Unfortunately, you can’t tell VBA to clear internal memory. Instead Excel will clear it’s internal memory at (seemingly) specific intervals. So if you perform many copy and paste operations you run the risk of hogging too much memory, which can drastically slow down your code or even crash Excel.

Instead of copying and pasting, consider setting the value properties of cells.

Sub CopyPaste()

    Range("a1:a1000").Copy Range("b1:b1000")

    Range("b1:b1000").Value = Range("a1:a1000").Value

End Sub

Use the For Each loops instead of For Loops

When looping through objects, the For Each loop is faster than the For Loop. Example:

This For Loop:

Sub Loop1()
    dim i as Integer
    For i = 1 To 100
        Cells(i, 1).Value = 1
    Next i
End Sub
Is slower than this For Each Loop:
Sub Loop2()
    Dim cell As Range
    For Each cell In Range("a1:a100")
        cell.Value = 1
    Next cell
End Sub

Declare Variables / Use Option Explicit

VBA does not require that you declare your variables, unless you add Option Explicit to the top of your module:
Option Explicit
Adding Option Explicit is a coding best practice as it decreases the probability of errors. It also forces you to declare your variables, which slightly increases the speed of your code (benefits are more noticeable the more a variable is used).
How does Option Explicit prevent errors?
The biggest benefit to Option Explicit is it will help you catch variable name spelling errors. For example, in the following example we’ve set a variable named ‘var1’, but later we reference variable named ‘varl’. Variable ‘varl’ hasn’t been defined so it’s blank, causing unexpected results.
Sub OptionExplicit()
    var1 = 10
    MsgBox varl
End Sub

Use With – End With Statements

If you reference the same objects multiple times (ex. Ranges, Worksheets, Workbooks), consider using the With Statement.  It is faster to process, can make your code easier to read, and simplifies your code.
With statement example:
Sub Faster_Example()
    With Sheets("Sheet2")
        .Range("D9").FormulaR1C1 = "example"
        .Range("D12").FormulaR1C1 = "demo"
        .Range("D9").Font.Bold = True
        .Range("D12").Font.Bold = True
    End With
End Sub
Is faster than:
Sub Slow_Example()
    Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D9").FormulaR1C1 = "example"
    Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D12").FormulaR1C1 = "demo"
    Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D9").Font.Bold = True
    Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D12").Font.Bold = True
End Sub

Advanced Best Practice Tips

Protect UserInterfaceOnly

It’s good practice to protect your worksheets from editing unprotected cells to prevent the end-user (or you!) from accidentally corrupting the workbook.  However, this will also protect the worksheet(s) from allowing VBA to make changes. So you must unprotect and re-protect worksheets, which is very time consuming when done on many sheets.

Sub UnProtectSheet()
    Sheets(“sheet1”).Unprotect ”password”
    'Edit Sheet1
    Sheets(“sheet1”).Protect ”password”
End Sub

Instead, you can protect sheets with setting UserInterfaceOnly:=True. This allows VBA to make changes to sheets, while still protecting them from the user.

Sheets(“sheet1”).Protect Password:="password", UserInterFaceOnly:=True

Important! UserInterFaceOnly resets to False every time the workbook opens. So to use this awesome feature, you will need to use the Workbook_Open or Auto_Open events to set the setting each time the workbook is opened.

Place this code in the Thisworkbook module:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    For Each ws In Worksheets
        ws.Protect Password:="password", UserInterFaceOnly:=True
    Next ws
End Sub

vba best practices

or this code in any regular module:

Private Sub Auto_Open()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    For Each ws In Worksheets
        ws.Protect Password:="password", UserInterFaceOnly:=True
    Next ws
End Sub

Use Arrays to Edit Large Ranges

It can be very time consuming to manipulate large ranges of cells (Ex. 100,000+).  Instead of looping through ranges of cells, manipulating each cell, you can load the cells into an array, process each item in the array, and then output the array back into their original cells. Loading the cells into arrays for manipulation can be much faster.

Sub LoopRange()

    Dim cell As Range
    Dim tStart As Double

    tStart = Timer

    For Each cell In Range("A1:A100000")
        cell.Value = cell.Value * 100
    Next cell

    Debug.Print (Timer - tStart) & " seconds"

End Sub

Sub LoopArray()

    Dim arr As Variant
    Dim item As Variant
    Dim tStart As Double

    tStart = Timer

    arr = Range("A1:A100000").Value
    For Each item In arr
        item = item * 100
    Next item
    Range("A1:A100000").Value = arr

    Debug.Print (Timer - tStart) & " seconds"

End Sub



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