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Power BI Data Sources and Power BI Services

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Power BI Data Sources

Power BI Data Sources. Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics tool. Power BI is available in the desktop version and services version. It is the best visualization tool and can handle even the most critical business data. It helps in sharing and evaluating the data and gets connected to all the data sources of the user.

To know more about Power BI and its insights, refer to Power BI Tutorial. To perform business analytics, it is crucial to have data. The sources which provide data are called as Data Sources. Here, the data sources which provide data to Power BI are known as Power BI Data Sources.  Power BI allows connecting to many data sources.


Want to know the data sources connected to Tableau? Power BI Vs. Tableau. Power BI Desktop allows users to connect to different data sources, and Power BI services connect to various data sources. To understand and know the data sources n detail of both of them first let us know the difference between the two.

Power BI Desktop

As the name suggests, Power BI Desktop is a complete report creating and data analysis tool that can be installed in the user’s desktop for free. The desktop version of Power BI includes query editor which helps in connecting to the data sources, analyses them and creates data models. With the help of these data models, reports can be generated.

Power BI Services

Power BI Service is a cloud-based service platform. If an organization and its teams are working on Power BI, then power BI service come into use. It offers less modeling of data as compared to the Power BI Desktop.

It is generally seen that people use Power BI Desktop for Data Modelling and creating reports while Service is used for sharing and distribution of reports. Power BI offers multiple templates to create interactive and stunning dashboards, Check out Power BI templates.

Power BI Desktop – Power BI Data Sources

We know that Power BI supports and connects many data sources. Now let’s get into the details. To include the data in Power BI desktop first, click on get data option in the Home tab.

Get data option in Power BI

You will see a drop-down menu of the most common data sources. If you want to explore more click on more from the drop-down list.

most common data sources

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When you click on more from get data, a box of Get Data will be opened providing you with the full-fledged data source options.

Get Data then More Options for Data Source


There are the options in the sources provided at the left-hand side namely:

  • ALL
  • File
  • Database
  • Azure
  • Online Services
  • Other

Let us go through them one by one.


All categories, all the data sources that can be connected to Power BI Desktop are listed.


Under the file category, the data sources related to the file will be listed. Once you select any data source under the file section, you will need to provide the location of that particular file after clicking on the connect tab.

File Data Source in Power BI


Once you select a database, a list of databases file is seen. You can connect to any one of your choices, but there is a catch, you have to provide your Server Name or User Name as a password to allow that database to be connected.

Database - Power BI Data Source

Power BI

Power BI - Data Source

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Under the Azure category, you can select a database from the Azure cloud. There are options of many databases from the Azure cloud as shown.

Azure - Data Source in Power BI

Online Services

Under Online Services, you can connect and get data from different online platforms such as Facebook, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Exchange, etc. Many times you will view beta versions of connections as well, these beta versions are only for testing purposes and are rolled out only for few regions. If it works well, then the relationship is added for all users, and if it fails in the testing level, that connection is again rolled back. Thus, the data connections list will be seen increasing with every passing day.

Online Services - Data Sources in Power BI



Under this category, there are many different types of data sources such as Web, Active Directory, Hadoop File, R Script, etc.

Other Data Sources

These were all about the data sources of Power BI Desktop. Now, let us go to the Power BI Service.

Power BI Services – Power BI Data Sources

To include the data in Power BI Service, we have to click on Get Data option on the left corner of the screen.

It opens a box which contains two options stating one as Discover Content and others as Create New Content. Let us find these in more detail.

Discover Content

Under discover content, we get the report and data which are created for us. They are our Organizational data and Services data.

  • Organizational data: Here you will get all the data developed or created by the people from your organization.
  • Services data: Here you will get all the data from the online services that you generally use.

Create New Content

As the name suggests, under Create new content, we have to create content on our own and then feed to Power BI Service. This can be achieved via two ways, either by Files or Databases.

  • File
    1. Excel: We can manually enter data and create a file in excel which can then be fed to Power BI Service. We can also import data from an external data source into excel with the help of Power Query to analyze and model it, and then this data created like this can be fed to Power BI Service.
    2. Power BI Desktop: The data loaded from external data sources to the desktop version of Power BI to analyze and model to create reports and visualizations can act as a data source for Power BI service once the reports are created and published.
    3. Comma-Separated values: Sometimes data is not correctly separated into rows and columns and instead by comma like in an address book. This type of data cannot be fed to Power BI, but it can be converted into Power BI type by first converting into an excel form. The data can be stored in excel format in single rows and columns. In this way, this type of files can be converted into excel or Power Bi desktop version first and can then made suitable for Power BI service.
  • Databases

We can connect Power BI Services live with the help of Databases. We can connect it to two types of databases that are databases on cloud and databases on-premises.

    1. Databases on Cloud: We can connect to Azure SQL Database, Azure Data Warehouse, Spark on Azure HDInsight. After relating to any one of the databases say we created a report by using Power BI Desktop and before publishing it we want another piece of data from the database then Power BI askes the query directly to the database.
    2. Database on Premises: We will need a Power BI Enterprise Gateway to connect Power BI Service directly to SQL Server Analysis. For any other databases, you will have first to use Power BI desktop or excel in creating a data model, and then you can import your file to Power BI service where the data exists initially. Use Power BI Desktop to connect to data in Azure, SQL database and more.

In Power BI Desktop as well as Power BI Service data sources provide data to analyze, make models and visualize effectively helping BI professionals to ensure proper insights to the business personals.


We have tried to cover all the possible data sources for both Power BI Desktop version and Power BI Service version to help you understand the data sources of Power BI better.

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