How to Set up Data Refresh in Power BI (Automatic & Manual)

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Power BI is a great business intelligence and analytics tool you can use to visualize findings from your data quickly.

However, it’s important to make sure your data is updated or else the results would be inaccurate.

Fortunately, it’s easy to refresh data in Power BI.

In this article, you’ll learn about refreshing data in Power BI.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Let’s get into it! 👍

*This tutorial is for Power BI Online (also called "Power BI Service"). If you have Power BI Desktop, then click here and go to the online version.

Data Refresh in Power BI

To have accurate results, you must have updated data.

When refreshing data:

  • Power BI queries the data sources
  • Checks the current visualizations
  • Update any that relies on the updated dataset

Of course, there are more under the hood — storage modes, dataset types, and even refresh types.

But unless you want or need to go deeper, it safe to say that setting up data refresh in Power BI is simpler than it looks.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

In this article, we’ll look into the two most common types of refreshing data.

Manual Data Refresh

First off, manually refreshing data is the simplest and easiest way.

Since this is manual, you would have to do this, again and again, every time you need to refresh your data.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

But it’s not too bad. Why? Because it’s just a button away.

Both in Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service, ‘Refresh’ buttons are almost everywhere. All you need to do is press it. 😃

Let’s start with the one found in the dashboard view when using Power BI Service.

On the menu above the dashboard canvas, press the ellipsis icon (…) and there’s your ‘Refresh’ option:

The one in the report viewing mode can also be found the same way.

Click the ellipsis icon (…) on the menu above the report canvas and selectRefresh’:

How to refresh data on Power BI Service’s report view

It’s even easier when you’re on the report editor.

There’s a nice ‘Refresh’ button found on the upper-right corner of the menu above the report canvas:

How to refresh data within the report editor

You can also refresh the dataset from the left sidebar.

Just expand the pane and hover your mouse over the dataset.

Click the flipped ellipsis icon (…) and selectRefresh now’:

‘Refresh now’ option on the dataset from the left pane

On the Power BI Service’s workspace view, you can easily refresh a dataset by clicking the refresh icon:

The refresh icon on the workspace’s datasets

It’s also easy on Power BI Desktop.

There’s a nice ‘Refresh’ on the ribbon you can easily find.

How to data refresh on Power BI Desktop

Cool! 😄

Automatic Page Refresh

Automatic Page Refresh, or APR, is the newest refresh type pushed to Power BI as part of the October 2019 update.

For now, this feature is only available for DirectQuery data sources.

When a report that’s authored in Power BI Desktop is published with this feature turned on, you can also configure it within Power BI Service.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

But before you can use this feature in the desktop version, you have to enable it first.

To start, clickFile’ on the tab list:

The 'File' button on the tab list

Next, hover your mouse over ‘Options and settings’ and selectOptions’:

The 'Options and settings' button on the 'File' tab

Go to the ‘Preview features’.

CheckAutomatic Page Refresh’ and clickOK’:

To use this feature, all you have to do is select a report page where you would like to enable APR.

Then, under ‘Formatting’ on the visualizations pane, findPage refresh’ and click the slider to ‘On’.

That’s it! Simply choose the refresh duration and you’re good! 👍

Limitations and Considerations

The new automatic page refresh feature comes with a few limitations and considerations:

  • Only DirectQuery data sources (no support for import, LiveConnect, and Push storage modes)
  • Supports composite models with at least one DirectQuery data source
  • No duration restriction in Power BI Desktop (as frequent as per second)
  • Certain restrictions apply to reports published in Power BI Service from the desktop

Wrapping things up…

Knowing how to refresh data in Power BI is important especially where your data set is being changed and updated regularly. Refreshing your data maintains the accuracy of your reports.

So if you haven’t tried refreshing your data, do it as soon as possible. It’s as easy and simple as pressing a button and Power BI will handle the rest. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto