Updating links in Excel

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: Our company has several dozen Excel 2013 workbooks loaded on our server with hundreds of links between them, and various employees keep these workbooks up to date. This solution works fairly well except that when our employees keep their workbooks open for extended periods of time, they occasionally forget to update their links and end up making decisions based on obsolete data. Could a macro be used to update our workbook links automatically on a periodic basis?

A: I would not recommend a macro approach to solving this problem. Instead, you should enable automatic link updates in Excel 2013 by selecting File, Options, Trust Center, Trust Center Settings, External Content, and under the section labeled Security settings for Workbook Links, select Enable automatic update for all Workbook Links, and then click OK.

Because this action grants automatic “write permissions” to all workbooks, Microsoft does not recommend this setting (because this setting is riskier as it removes the security barrier requiring users to manually authorize updates); but if you are confident that all of your workbooks are safe, this setting adjustment may help resolve your link update issues.

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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