Data Structures & Algorithms

Introduction to Power BI Automatic Refresh

Keeping the data up-to-date is crucial for accurate insights and decision-making. In Power BI, automatic refresh plays a vital role in ensuring the freshness of data within reports. This tutorial will guide you through the process of setting up the Power BI automatic refresh to help save you time and ensure that your reports are always current.

When the data is automatically refreshed, you no longer need to manually update your reports every time a new data becomes available. Instead, Power BI takes care of the process by retrieving the latest information from your data sources and refreshing your reports automatically. This eliminates the risk of using outdated data and allows you to focus on analyzing and deriving insights from real-time information.

Configuring the Data Sources for Automatic Refresh

To enable the automatic refresh in Power BI, you need to configure your data sources accordingly. This ensures that Power BI can retrieve the latest data from your sources and refresh your reports automatically. Let’s explore the steps to configure the data sources for automatic refresh:

Step 1: Identify the Supported Data Sources

First, check if your data sources support automatic refresh. Power BI supports a wide range of data sources including databases, cloud services, and files. Refer to the Power BI documentation or consult the list of supported connectors to verify if your specific data source can be configured for automatic refresh.

Step 2: Connection Settings

Configure the connection settings for your data source. Provide the necessary credentials, such as username and password, to establish a connection between Power BI and your data source. This ensures that Power BI can securely access and retrieve the data from the source during the refresh process.

Let us use the financials data sample that comes with Power BI Desktop for this illustration.

Step 3: Data Source Settings

Specify the refresh settings that are specific to your data source. This may include defining the refresh frequency, setting up incremental refresh if applicable, or adjusting other source-specific settings. Power BI provides options to customize the refresh behavior based on your data source requirements.

You can access the refresh settings under the “Formatting” pane. Once done, you can proceed to customize your auto refresh needs.

Step 4: Test and Validate

Before enabling the automatic refresh, perform a test to ensure that Power BI can successfully connect to and retrieve the data from your source. Validate that the data is accurately refreshed within Power BI reports. This step helps identify any potential issues before setting up automated refresh schedules.

Step 5: Enable the Automatic Refresh

Once the data source is properly configured and validated, enable the automatic refresh for the dataset or report in Power BI. This option allows Power BI to automatically refresh the data at the defined intervals without manual intervention.

By following these steps, you can configure your data sources for automatic refresh in Power BI. This ensures that your reports are regularly updated with the latest data, providing the users with real-time insights. In the next section, we will explore how to set up the scheduled refreshes to further automate the refresh process.

Setting Up the Scheduled Refresh

Scheduled refresh allows you to automate the data refresh process in Power BI by defining specific intervals at which your reports and datasets should be updated. This ensures that your data is always up-to-date without the need for manual intervention. Let’s explore how to set up the scheduled refresh in Power BI:

Step 1: Dataset Refresh

Start by navigating to the dataset that you want to schedule for refresh in Power BI. Click on the “…” (ellipsis) button next to the dataset name and select “Settings” from the menu.

Step 2: Refresh the Settings

In the dataset settings, locate the “Data source credentials and scheduled refresh” section. Here, you can specify the refresh frequency such as daily, weekly, or custom intervals. Choose the appropriate option that aligns with your data update requirements.

Step 3: Scheduling Options

Power BI offers scheduling options like specific days of the week, daily time slots, or even advanced options for complex scheduling needs. Select the preferred scheduling option that suits your data refresh frequency.

Step 4: Refresh the Time Zone

Ensure that the refresh time zone aligns with your intended schedule. This is especially important if your organization operates across different time zones or if you have specific timing requirements for your data updates.

Step 5: Save and Validate

Once you have configured the desired refresh settings, click on the “Apply” or “Save” button to save the changes. Power BI may prompt you to enter the credentials or validate the connection to your data sources to ensure a successful refresh.

By setting up the scheduled refresh, Power BI will automatically refresh your datasets according to the defined schedule. This ensures that your reports are consistently updated with the latest data, providing the users with accurate insights in a timely manner.

Remember to regularly monitor the refresh history and address any potential issues or errors that may occur during the scheduled refresh process.


Power BI automatic refresh is a powerful feature that empowers the users to keep their reports up-to-date and make data-driven decisions based on the latest information. In this tutorial, we explored the different aspects of automatic refresh, from configuring the data sources to setting up the scheduled refreshes. Let’s recap the key points and conclude our discussion.

Automatic refresh eliminates the need for manual data updates, saving time and ensuring the data accuracy. By automating the refresh process, you can focus on analyzing and deriving insights from real-time data rather than worrying about keeping reports up-to-date. On the other hand, scheduled refresh allows you to define the refresh intervals for your reports and datasets.

About the author

Kennedy Brian

Brian is a computer scientist with a bias for software development, programming, and technical content development. He has been in the profession since 2015. He reads novels, jogs, or plays table tennis whenever not on gadgets. He is an expert in Python, SQL, Java, and data and network security.