Creating gateways and refreshing reports in Power BI Service
Part seven of an eight-part series of blogs

Naturally you want the reports that you publish to Power BI Service to be up to date, but the rules are fiendishly complex. This blog explains when and how to create the two types of gateway, and how to ensure your reports refresh.

  1. Getting Power BI Service reports to refresh
  2. How Power BI connections work
  3. How connections work for Direct Query
  4. Setting up a personal gateway to allow data to refresh
  5. Creating an on-premises data gateway for everyone to use
  6. Gateway requirements, limitations and troubleshooting
  7. Manual and scheduled refreshing of data (this blog)
  8. Refreshing data within the cloud (Azure, OneDrive)

This blog is part of a much longer series, which together comprise a full online training course in Power BI Service.  You can see get details of our classsrom Power BI training courses here.

Posted by Andy Brown on 03 July 2017

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Manual and scheduled refreshing of data

Let's assume that you've set up a gateway (if you need one) to refresh data.  How do you control when and how refresh happens?

This page also considers the differences between Power BI and Power BI Pro as they pertain to refreshing data (basically, you can only refresh data once a day with the former, but once an hour with the latter).

One last quick reminder of what refresh involves

It's worth keeping in mind that when you refresh data in Power BI Service, the software does a full refresh of all of the report's dataset's data:

What refreshing involves

When you refresh a report, you upload ALL of the data for ALL of the data sources contained in the report's dataset.

Automatic and Manual Refresh

There are two ways of refreshing data in Power BI Service:

Method Notes
Automatic Data is refreshed automatically about once a day, or about once an hour if held in OneDrive.
Manual You can click on Refresh Now to refresh data, or set up a refresh schedule.

The rules for when and how data refreshes are insanely complicated, depending as they do on exactly which method you're using to get your data - see this Microsoft webpage for a full explanation.

Forcing a manual refresh

To refresh the underlying dataset for a report, choose this option:

Refreshing a dataset

Click on REFRESH NOW to refresh the dataset.

Once you've done this, you should refresh the report itself:

Refresh button

Click on the button shown to refresh your report's data.

Reports and dashboards that you've created will not automatically update when the underlying data has changed - it's up to you to manually refresh them.

Creating a refresh schedule

Making viewers of your report refresh it themselves is probably not realistic.  Instead, you can create a refresh schedule:

Schedule refresh

Click on the dataset, and choose to schedule a refresh for it.

Now choose the dataset that you want to refresh:

Choose a dataset

Power BI Service selects the dataset you originally clicked on, but you can change this here.

 

Confirm the gateway that you want to use to refresh the data (see the previous pages of this blog on gateways for what they are, and whether you need one):

Choosing a refresh gateway

Choose the gateway that you want to use for this refresh.

 

Now create a refresh schedule:

Scheduled refresh

Choose to enable scheduled refresh, and choose a time of day and a frequency (daily or weekly).

 

You can add up to 8 time slots for a day (but see the notes below on when refreshing data can fail):

A refresh schedule

A refresh schedule with all of the time slots occupied. 

 

Viewing a dataset's refresh history (over-frequent refreshes fail silently)

You can refresh data at most once an hour with Power BI Pro, and at most once a day with normal Power BI.  It's always worth having a look at the refresh history of a dataset:

Results of last refresh

You can see the results of when you last tried to refresh the data for a dataset, and click on this link to see its refresh history.

One of the most useful things in the above diagram is to see when the next refresh is scheduled.

Things haven't been going well recently for my example above:

Refresh history

You can see that my last 3 refreshes all failed.

There used to be a difference to do with how often you could refresh data between Power BI and Power BI Pro (that is, between the free and paid versions of Power BI), but as of May 2017 both versions refresh at the same rate.

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