How to automatically refresh a Direct Query in Power BI

In the ever-evolving landscape of data analytics, the demand for real-time insights has never been greater. Power BI, with its versatile features, facilitates direct connections to data sources through the Direct Query mode. One key aspect that enhances the effectiveness of Direct Query is the ability to automate its refresh. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of automatically refreshing a Direct Query in Power BI, providing a step-by-step walkthrough, insights into best practices, and addressing common questions for a holistic understanding.

Unraveling the Power of Direct Query in Power BI:

Understanding Direct Query:

Direct Query is a mode in Power BI where the data in your reports is not imported into the Power BI model but remains directly connected to the data source. This mode offers a dynamic and real-time analytical experience, ensuring that any changes in the underlying data source are immediately reflected in your reports.

Step-by-Step Guide to Automatic Refresh:

1. Data Source Connection:

Before diving into the configuration, it’s essential to ensure that your data source is supported for Direct Query in Power BI. Commonly supported sources include SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Analysis Services.

2. Power BI Desktop Configuration:

  • Open Power BI Desktop and initiate a new report.
  • Connect to your data source using the Direct Query option.
  • Design your report, leveraging fields directly from the connected data source.

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3. Setting up Power BI Gateway:

  • If your data source is on-premises, install and configure the Power BI Gateway. The gateway serves as a bridge, enabling Power BI to connect securely to on-premises data sources.

4. Publishing to Power BI Service:

  • Save your Power BI Desktop file with the configured Direct Query connection.
  • Publish the file to the Power BI Service, ensuring seamless integration with the cloud-based platform.

5. Configuring Scheduled Refresh:

  • Once in the Power BI Service, locate your dataset.
  • Navigate to the “Scheduled refresh” settings for the dataset.
  • Enable the scheduled refresh and configure the frequency at which the refresh should occur.

Best Practices for Direct Query Refresh:

  • Data Source Performance Optimization: Ensure that your data source is optimized for performance, as Direct Query relies on real-time connections.
  • Use Power BI Gateway for On-Premises Sources: If your data source is on-premises, the Power BI Gateway is essential for establishing a secure and efficient connection.
  • Scheduled Refresh Frequency: Consider the nature of your data updates and business requirements when configuring the frequency of scheduled refreshes.
  • Monitoring and Logging: Regularly monitor the refresh status and utilize Power BI Service logs to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

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External Resources for In-Depth Understanding:

  1. Power BI Direct Query Documentation
  2. Power BI Service Scheduled Refresh

FAQs: Addressing Common Direct Query Refresh Questions

Q1: Can Direct Query be used with any data source?

A1: Direct Query is commonly supported with relational databases like SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Analysis Services. For a comprehensive list of supported sources, refer to the Power BI documentation.

Q2: Is a Power BI Gateway required for Direct Query with on-premises data sources?

A2: Yes, if your data source is on-premises, installing and configuring the Power BI Gateway is crucial. The gateway enables secure connections between Power BI Service and on-premises data.

Q3: How often can I schedule a Direct Query refresh?

A3: The frequency of your scheduled refresh depends on your Power BI subscription. Explore the Power BI Service documentation for details on available refresh frequencies.

Q4: Can Direct Query be used with a Power BI Pro license?

A4: Yes, Direct Query is available with both Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium licenses. However, some advanced features, such as incremental refresh, may require a Power BI Premium subscription.


Automating the refresh of a Direct Query in Power BI is a pivotal step in harnessing real-time analytics and ensuring that your reports consistently reflect the most current data. By following this step-by-step guide, exploring best practices, and referring to external resources and FAQs, you can seamlessly configure and manage the automatic refresh of your Direct Query connections. Stay ahead in the dynamic realm of data analytics with a reporting experience that is both responsive and insightful. Unlock the full potential of real-time insights with Power BI’s Direct Query capabilities.