Microsoft Power Apps, SharePoint, & Microsoft 365 Consulting Company

A Comprehensive Guide to Connecting Power BI to SQL Server


  • Discuss the roles of Power BI and SQL Server in data analytics, highlighting their complementarity for informed decision-making.


  • Emphasize the need for Power BI Desktop installation and ensuring SQL Server is accessible and properly configured.

Step-by-Step Connection Guide

  • Start by opening Power BI Desktop and navigate to “Get Data” to select SQL Server as the data source.
  • Enter the server details and optionally the database you aim to connect with. When choosing the data connectivity mode, you have the option between ‘DirectQuery’ and ‘Import’. ‘DirectQuery’ does not import data into Power BI but queries the database directly on each interaction, suitable for up-to-date data reflections but with performance considerations.
  • The ‘Import’ mode brings data into Power BI, enhancing performance but requiring manual or scheduled refreshes to keep the data current.

Data Transformation and Cleaning

  • Utilize the Power Query Editor within Power BI for data modification tasks, highlighting basic transformation and cleaning operations that can be performed to prepare data for analysis.

Designing Reports

  • Guide on leveraging the loaded data to create insightful visualizations and reports. Emphasize the importance of effective report design practices for better data interpretation.

Publishing and Sharing Reports

Save and publish your reports directly from Power BI Desktop to the Power BI Service, choosing the appropriate workspace.

Discuss the significance of data gateways for refreshing reports that are connected to on-premises SQL Server databases, ensuring real-time data is reflected in reports shared within an organization.

Tips and Best Practices

  • Address the optimization of SQL Server data sources for enhanced performance in Power BI. Secure data access and sharing are crucial; hence, discuss setting up proper authentication methods and privacy levels for data sources when using on-premises data gateways.

Using Advanced Connection Options

  • For more tailored connections, including scenarios where direct SQL queries or Python scripts might be necessary, detail how users can utilize these advanced methods for specific data retrieval needs.

Scheduled Refresh and DirectQuery Use

  • Elaborate on configuring a refresh schedule through the Power BI service to keep the data up to date or using DirectQuery for real-time data querying. It’s vital to ensure that server and database names match between Power BI Desktop and the configured data source for the gateway.


  • Recap the steps covered and encourage exploration of further Power BI features and functionalities, suggesting that connecting Power BI with SQL Server opens up a plethora of data analysis opportunities.