In this article, we will be comparing Power BI Import vs Direct Query methods for creating data models. You can either use PowerBI desktop or Excel to create data models using either of the two ways.
However, there are essential key considerations before choosing one over the other. Read along to know more on this topic.
For ease of understanding, refer to the following table below to know exactly which method to choose under different scenarios.
Supports multiple data sources
Supports only Single directional filtering
Bi-directional filtering Support is not available
When you select “Import,” the data is imported into the XLSX (Excel) or PBIX file (PBI Desktop) and is stored in an SSAS Tabular model. Both the Import method in Excel and Power BI desktop uses the ‘Vertipaq‘ engine, also known as ‘xVelocity.’
When users create and interact with a data visualization, Power BI Desktop connects to the imported data embedded into the file. Since the data is ‘Point in Time‘ you will have to set up data refresh on the PowerBI cloud service.
Each time when the data is refreshed, it imports the complete data set again, to see any changes that could have occurred to the underlying dataset since the initial import or after the most recent refresh.
In this method, at the time of creating the data model, only the schema, tables and columns are defined. The data is not imported or embedded into the xlsx or pbix file. So, for every visual interaction Data is refreshed.
The user selected tables and columns in the data model appear in the Fields list. As you create or interact with data visualization, Power BI Desktop will query the embedded data source (odc file), which means you’re always viewing the current version of the data. The time taken to refresh the visualization is mostly dependent on the performance of the underlying network performance, data source, etc.
So, the tradeoff to real-time data is performance, and if you refer to the table above, the use cases are clear.
From the security perspective, the embedded security credentials are always used to query the backend data source.
I hope that this article helped to compare the Power BI Import vs Direct Query features and key considerations. Do let us know your thoughts and suggestions by leaving us a comment below. Thanks for visiting.
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