Lars Nielsen's Discoveries

February 5, 2013

Excel Services Troubleshooting

Filed under: Administration,SharePoint,Troubleshooting — Lars Nielsen @ 7:11 pm
Tags: ,

Here are some issues, traps and resolutions you might hit when setting up Excel Services in SharePoint 2010

Firstly here’s a quick review of the steps that you need to go through to provision Excel Services. The best rundown I have found on this is here

In my case I wanted to create a specific service for Excel Services, which means also I needed to set up an application pool for Excel Services. I think it’s better to have a dedicated service account in case I ever need to grant access to file shares to that account, or configure Kerberos settings on the account. You can also use the SharePoint Web Services Default application pool and its associated app pool account.

Here are the steps in order:

1) Create a service account for Excel Services. It doesn’t need any special group membership or permissions. I called mine sp_ExcelServices

2) Register the account sp_ExcelServices as a managed account in SharePoint

3) Start the Excel Services service on one or more servers (use Manage Services on Server link in Central Admin)

3) Create a new Excel Services service application. Choose to create a new application pool using the sp_ExcelServices managed account

5) Run the Powershell commands to grant access to the sp_ExcelServices account to the appropriate web application(s) where you want to use Excel Services.

$wa = Get-SPW1ebApplication -identity

6) Activate the SharePoint Server Enterprise features for both the Site Collection and the Site

After that you should be able to load an Excel spreadsheet into a document library and view it in the browser via Excel Services.

Here are some problems you might hit when you try to open a workbook.

The workbook cannot be opened

Two possible causes of this one:

Check if the Excel Services server is not started on any of the servers in the farm. Check this in Central Admin – Application Management – Manage Services on Server and start the service if necessary.

Also you can check that the Excel Services app pool account has access to the web application. You can check this with the User Policy screen for the Web Application. You should see an entry for the managed account for Excel Services. For good measure you can run the Powershell commands in step 5 again.

Web Application Policy

Wait a few minutes and try performing this operation again

If you get this when you try to open an Excel file then check the error logs and the Windows event log on the web server. You might see this error:

Error 5244

Unexpected error when trying to access service settings in the configuration database. Make sure the proxy for this service application is a member of the default proxy group for the active web application. Error = ExcelServerWebServiceApplication.Local: Could not get the web application associated with this context. This indicates that the Excel Server service is not properly registered or provisioned..

This might be caused by incorrect database permissions on the Configuration database.  Note that in this link they say that the Excel Service Application Pool account requires db_owner role. But I’ve found that its default WSS_Content_Application_Pools role seems to be enough.

However if you can run the Get-SPExcelServiceApplication command in Powershell and it runs OK, then it probably is not a problem with permissions on the config database. It might be that you have not associated the Excel Services service application with any application proxy groups. To resolve this go to Central Administration and in the Application Management screen click on Configure Service Application Associations. Then the simplest thing is to check if Excel Services is in the default association group (assuming that your web application is using that default group).

Service Application Proxies

Workbook cannot be opened because it is not stored in an Excel Services Application trusted location

Go to the management screen for Excel Services and click on the Trusted File Locations link.  Here you can see a list of locations that are trusted to provide Excel workbooks to Excel Services.  By default there’s usually one “HTTP” which is set to trust all children in SharePoint.  That effectively means everything in every SharePoint web application in the farm.  So you shouldn’t see any trust errors if your Excel files are in SharePoint.

But notice that it says HTTP and not HTTPS.   What if you are using Alternate Access Mappings to provide an SSL version of your SharePoint site?  Or you’re using Forefront UAG to force SSL?  In that case you might see this trust error when using the SSL address for the site, and you need to add a trusted location that starts with HTTPS, such as the hostname of the web application.  So for example if your Intranet is mapped to an externally available address, you might want to trust all the children of

You can’t see the Excel Web Access web part in the web part gallery or the Excel file doesn’t open in the browser

It might be obvious, but just check that the SharePoint Server Enterprise feature is activated on the Site Collection and the Site

Excel Web Access web part doesn’t update

If you have an Excel file that is being rendered onto a page via an Excel Web Access web part, then you update the Excel file, then refresh the page, you’d expect to see the changes on the Excel file to be reflected on the page. But there is caching in Excel Services and you might need to wait a few minutes before the changes show up in the web part on the page.

I’ve also found that sometimes, if you edit the Excel Web Access web part properties and hit the Apply button, it loses its named range property and you have to fill it in again. And you can’t use a server-relative URL for the location of the workbook in the web part – it always fills in the fully qualified URL.



  1. Dear Neilsen … You are awesome. after spending 3 days on fixing this issue I am now able to run my excel service perfectly with the troubleshooting given by you. I had been following up with Microsoft Guys as well but it seems that they do not know even about their own products.

    thanks you so much..

    Comment by Rajeev — April 17, 2013 @ 10:29 am

  2. Solved my issues with opening Excel files in the browser!

    Used ULS viewer to help direct me to the exact issue.


    Comment by David — January 2, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

  3. I may be missing something here; so feel free to tell me I’m being stupid. I am deploying OWA into an existing farm and Excel Service Application was already provisioned. I’d like to put all three of these service applications into their own app pool – but I can’t find a way to change the app pool for the Excel Services Application. On many of the others, I can change that through the “Properties” option, but that option isn’t available for the Excel Services Application. Thoughts, help, nudge in the right direction?

    Comment by pentupmodel — August 18, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

  4. pentupmodel – sorry for the late reply but I think you should look at the Powershell commands Set-SPServiceApplicationPool and Set-SPServiceApplication – I think one or other of them might do what you want?

    Comment by Lars Nielsen — October 2, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

  5. Hello Lars, I installed SharePoint 2013 Eval version from Microsoft. When I start my Farm Wizard, there is no listing for Excel Calculation Services (or Access Services). I have installed Sharepoint twice (on a PC with and without Office 2013 present), in both cases none of the services was not found. I do see Powerpoint service in both cases. I have checked IIS Application Pool, no listing of any Office Products or Service. I have 1 DC, 1 SQL server and 1 SPoint server (with Off 2013). All of these are running on MS 2012 R2 Datacentre Eval version. What am I missing here? Any help is appreciative. Thanks. Kevin.

    Comment by Kevin — May 1, 2016 @ 4:24 am

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