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What Power BI report server is, and how to create reports through it
Part two of a five-part series of blogs

Puzzled as to why there are two near-identical versions of Power BI Desktop? Wondering if web portal is anything like Power BI report server? Confused as to what a paginated report is? This blog answers all these questions, and more!

  1. Power BI Report Server
  2. Installing and Setting Up Power BI Report Server (this blog)
  3. Creating paginated reports
  4. Publishing Power BI reports to Power BI Report Server
  5. Creating mobile reports for Power BI Report Server

Posted by Andy Brown on 23 December 2020

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Installing and Setting Up Power BI Report Server

You can install and configure Power BI Report Server by following the instructions below!

Downloading the installation file 

First download it from this Microsoft site:

Download Power BI Report Server

Click on the obvious button!

To run Power BI Report Server at the time of writing you'll need Windows 10, SQL Server 2012 or later and the .NET framework 4.7 or later (although you don't need to worry too much about this last one, as it will be updated as part of the installation process).

Choose which file you want to download:

Choose download files

Choose to install Power BI Report Server (see later in this blog series for what the other two files do).

Installing the software

When the download has finished, run it:

Running downloaded file

This is what the download looks like in Edge, for example.


Choose to install it:

Click on install

Click on the button!

I'm guessing that you'll want to evaluate the software first, like me:

Evaluation software

Choose this option, then click on Next.

However, you can choose a free developer edition instead:

Developer edition

The two editions are identical. You can not use the Developer edition of Power BI Report Server in a "production environment" (so you can use it for developing software, but not for use thereafter within your company). You can see the full list of differences here.

Confirm your acceptance of the terms and conditions on the next page, then choose what you want to install:

Power BI report server only

I've got various instances of SQL Server on my laptop, so I just need the report server.

Choose a location, then click on Install:

Install location

I'm putting the software in the default location.

It took under a minute on my laptop:


You can see how the installation is going.

Starting to configure Power BI Report Server

You can now choose to configure Power BI Report Server:

Configuring report server

Choose to configure Report Server.

If you've also got SSRS web portal installed on your computer (as I have), be careful to choose the right version of Report Server:

Choosing report server instance

It's the Power BI version of Report Server I want to configure, so I need to change the default choice.

Note that if you get anything wrong, you can can always run this program from your desktop:

Configuration Manager

The installation process just takes you into a standalone application called Reporting Services Configuration Manager.


Setting up a database

If you haven't already got SQL Server on your computer, I would guess that you'll now be asked to install it.  Otherwise, you'll just need to set up a database to hold your reports:

Choose to change a database

Choose to change (in this case, to set up) a database.

I don't have a database set up (and neither will you), so choose to create one:

Create a new report server database

Choose to create a new report server database.


Log on to an instance of SQL Server:

Log on to a database

Log on to an instance of SQL Server running on your computer (don't forget to check that the SQL Server service is running).

Choose a name for your new report server database:

Report server database

I've gone for the default name.

Choose your security credentials:

Security credentials

I've gone for the default option (I don't claim to be a security expert!).


Confirm you're happy with your details:

SQL Server database details

Check you're happy, then click on Next.


With a bit of luck, you'll soon see this:

Success messages


If you like, you can now go into SQL Server Management Studio to see your new databases:

Report server databases in SSMS

Alongside a couple of training databases, I've got my two new report server databases in Management Studio.


Setting up the report server website

It's now time to set up the web portal for report server:

Setting up the web service

Click on the Web Service URL tab as shown, check your settings (I've used the defaults again) and click on the Apply button.

The configuration manager creates a URL for you, although for now you won't see much at it:


The report server URL generated in my case.


Note that you can substitute localhost for the name of your computer (in my case, for historic reasons this is SQUELCH!).

Setting up the web portal

Finally, you need to set up the directory at your report server website:

Setting up web portal

Click on the Web Portal URL tab as shown, then click on Apply.

Testing out your report server

You should now be able to exit out of your configuration settings, and try out your web portal:

Type in the URL

If you've chosen the same default options as me, you'll be able to type in this URL into your browser.

You should now see this:

Power BI Report Server

It's all been worth it!

This blog doesn't attempt to be a report server tutorial, but it's fairly easy to learn how to do anything in Power BI report server (from viewing reports through to creating subscriptions).

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