Big Data
Jun 21, 2023

Testing The Limits– Uploading a Massive 140+ GB File to Gigasheet

Here’s a kicker - Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are not meant for big data.

I know – that’s a bold statement, but if you have ever tried loading a massive spreadsheet file using these platforms, you probably know their limitations.

Of course, the size of spreadsheet files Excel can handle depends on your computer’s hardware specifications. But even with a high-end machine, these platforms struggle to handle massive spreadsheet files.

So, in the era of big data, how can you play around with humongous-sized spreadsheet files?

Meet Gigasheet, our big data spreadsheet platform that solves the limitations of Excel, Google Sheets, and various other spreadsheet platforms. Gigasheet can process massive csv and spreadsheet files online, and is capable of spreadsheets with 250+ GB file size and up to one billion rows.

Gigasheet max file size

To prove my point, I uploaded a 140+ GB spreadsheet file to Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Gigasheet. Let’s test their limits.

Can Excel Handle Big Data?

The answer is no. Microsoft Excel is not scalable and surely can’t handle massive spreadsheet files. The platform has a few limitations like:

  • The maximum row and column limits are 1,048,576 and 16,384 respectively.
  • Also, spreadsheets are limited by available system resources and memory.

Even though our spreadsheet file has way more rows than what Excel limits, let’s see what happens if I try to load it using Excel.

Can Excel handle big data?

No response from Excel.

Wait - is my Microsoft Excel not working?

Let me try uploading a regular CSV file that doesn’t exceed the platform’s limitations.

Can Excel handle big data?

And it worked!

This means, Microsoft Excel isn’t capable of handling a massive spreadsheet file. And that’s not just it.

Even if your spreadsheet file is 10GB in size and has, let’s say, 10,000 rows, yet you’re trying to load the file on a low-end PC, it’s highly likely Excel will crash or work really slow. And it may even slow down your computer.

Well, you can use Power Query, right? If you know about Power Query, you may be wondering, “Why didn’t this guy use Excel’s Power Query feature in the first place?”

Well, I tried importing data from the spreadsheet file using Power Query, but my MacBook literally crashed (disappointed but not surprised).

It’s not because I own a low-end PC.

Let me share my system specifications with you:

Ankit Vora system specifications

This means, Excel clearly can’t handle big data.

Can Google Sheets Handle Big Data?

Again, the answer is no. Google Sheets can’t handle big data by itself. The platform has even more limitations than Microsoft Excel. They are:

  1. Google Sheets cannot process spreadsheet files with more than 10 million cells.
  2. The maximum column limit is 18,278.
  3. Spreadsheets are limited by available system resources and memory.

If you try exceeding the cell limit, you’ll get the following error:

Can Google Sheets handle big data?

At the same time, if you want to upload massive spreadsheet files, then you’ll have to upgrade your Google storage (depending on whether you’re using it on your personal account or are an enterprise user).

But there’s a turnaround.

Google soon realized this problem and introduced Connected Sheets inside Google Sheets - which you can use to play around with massive spreadsheet files. However, it has its own fair share of problems:

  • You need access to the Google Cloud platform.
  • You need to have billing set up in BigQuery.
  • Working on large spreadsheet files isn’t a two-three step process. You need to add data connectors first - and also require permissions to get started.
  • You can pull a maximum of 25,000 rows from BigQuery to connected sheets. If you try to pull more than that, only the first 25,000 will appear.

This means, if you’re looking to play around with massive spreadsheets, Connected Sheets may not be the best idea. On top of this, it can turn out to be a costly option.

Can Gigasheet Handle Big Data?

Gigasheet, the big data spreadsheet, can easily handle big data.

If you have a massive spreadsheet file, it’s highly recommended to zip it before uploading it to Gigasheet simply to make the upload faster, but it's not required.

Can Gigasheet handle big data?

Once it’s uploaded and processed, Gigasheet will automatically extract it (may take some time, considering the file size).

Gigasheet automatic extraction zip file

As you can see, the spreadsheet file has 797.9 million rows, and its size stands at 141.43GB. Gigasheet took no more than ten seconds (after clicking on it) to display the content inside the file.

Gigasheet, the big data spreadsheet

Now, let’s play around with it a bit.

Let’s apply a filter to see how much time it takes to filter the data.

Applying filter inside Gigasheet

Around six seconds after clicking on “Apply.”

Considering the size of the file, I think six seconds is an impressive number!

Similarly, I performed several other operations inside Gigasheet like grouping, data cleanup, formulas, and many more.

Gigasheet literally arranged millions of rows in not more than ten seconds.

Gigasheet literally arranged millions of rows in not more than ten seconds.

Performing a SUM operation took me around eight seconds.

What took the most time was exporting the 140+ GB file just as-is.

Using Gigasheet’s export feature, I was able to download the spreadsheet file in the form of CSV. To make the process easier and not a burden on my computer, Gigasheet zipped the file, which took around 1.5 hours. You can apply a few filters and download a spreadsheet file comprising the narrowed-down data - it totally depends on your preference.

Gigasheet, the Big Data Spreadsheet

Sure, it obviously depends on your file size and the complexity of the data. But we assure you that Gigasheet is the fastest cloud spreadsheet platform that can easily handle big data.

If you’re looking to collaborate with team members, you can easily share the spreadsheet file inside Gigasheet using our platform’s Share feature. This way, you don’t have to export the file and find a way to share it. Instead, you can easily do it by inviting team members to collaborate with you using emails. Gigasheet makes big data delivery simple!

Want to try it out for yourself?

Gigasheet is free forever. Click here to sign up.

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