ODBC Driver and OLEDB Provider Issues and Potential Fixes

This post originally appeared on Medium on January 10, 2019.

The Problem

You are needing to read an excel sheet because you…

… and you’re getting errors similar to…

then this article should provide to be quite useful.

The crux of the problem for most people is selecting the wrong driver version, 32-bit vs 64-bit, for your system. If that doesn’t click for you right now, then the rest of the article will go over in more detail which drivers you need specifically, what those drivers do, a little configuration and why “it works on my machine, but not on the server.”


Microsoft does not currently recommend, and does not support, Automation of Microsoft Office applications from any unattended, non-interactive client application or component (including ASP, ASP.NET, DCOM, and NT Services), because Office may exhibit unstable behavior and/or deadlock when Office is run in this environment.

See notice here.

So let that sit there for a minute… and that’s why this is such a pain and why you should be using the newer OpenXMLstandard to access your excel sheets. Save your self some headache and use a library that allows modifying Excel files instead of using the Office Interop Assemblies. Using the interop may start working on your local machine, but it will break at some point for some reason once deployed, guaranteed. Also, the Office Interop Assemblies require having Office installed on your server, since the interop only provides a programmatic interface to the actual program Office application. Installing Office on your server is going to take up space just to be able to access an excel sheet. Lots of bloat if you ask me.

Some wrapper libraries to help you with OpenXML:

Disclosure: I only have slight experience with ClosedXML, .NET, The other libraries I have seen recommended around Stack Overflow so I placed them here for reference.


The ODBC driver, Open DataBase Connectivity, allows for connection to relational database. As far as I’m aware this is required as apart of getting access to excel sheets. My understanding is the OLEDB Provider extends the ODBC capabilities to work with non relational databases such as excel workbooks; therefore the ODBC is needed as well. If you have installed MSSQL, MySql or another database you might already have it installed. If you go to Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools, you will see *ODBC Data Source (32-bit) and/or ODBC Data Source (64-bit). *If you don’t have those ODBC applications then go ahead and install the ODBC driver for you system, download links below.

The most important part is to make sure you use the same 32/64 bit as each other, along with your process calling the driver/provider. For Example, if you use 32-bit ODBC, then you must install 32-bit OLEDB Provider and your process, such as your IIS AppPool, must be running as 32-bit. Vice versa for 64-bit.

I already had the MSSQL ODBC Driver installed already, so I only needed the OLEDB provider. I used the 2007 version, there are version for 2010 and 2016 I believe. If one version doesn’t work, try the other ones. But only one can be installed at time. Trying to install a different version, just prompts for a repair/reinstall the existing one. Just make sure you maintain the smae bit version, I ended up using 32-bit.


Directly from the OLEDB download instructions

The steps in the image above come directly from the install guide for the OLEDB provider, Office System Driver: Data Connectivity Components. You can add these Data Sources in Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > ODBC Data Source (32/64-bit).

ODBC Data Source Admin Panel

I do not believe it’s required, but I always restarted when I changed the ODBC Data Sources.


Hopefully at this point, you’re application is working great with excel because you’re using OpenXML, and are loving your life. If not there are some troubleshooting options for you.

  1. Try a reboot (IT troubleshoot technique #1)

  2. Make sure your ODBC driver, OLDB Provider, and application process are running the same bit version (32 vs 64 bit)

  3. Make sure if using the interop, you shouldn’t be, then the excel.exe process could not be closing/locked by another user.

  4. Apparently, Excel indexes at 1 instead of 0 as noted by this Stack Overflow response.

  5. Try repairing or uninstalling then reinstalling the ODBC driver and OLEDB provider.

Changing IIS to 32 bit Process

In order to get excel reading when you’ve already verified the ODBC and OLEDB are the right version, you’ll need to change your process to 32 bit, assuming your driver is 32 bit. I am working with a .Net Framework web application so that’s the example below. Check for you application to make sure it’s running the right version.

  1. Open IIS

  2. Go to AppPools

  3. Right click desired AppPool > Advanced Settings

  4. Change “Enable 32-bit Application” to True

AppPool Advanced Settings


Here are the connection strings for excel as well from the wonderful connectionstrings.com.

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