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Helper II
Helper II

Options to source data from remote web host for Power BI online report

Not being able to use remote data sources appears to be a major limitation for Power BI online.


I have a web host, on which I run scripts that generate data files on a schedule that I want to use as data source for Power BI.


However it appears my only option is to manually update Power BI desktop with these data files and then publish updated report to Power BI.


I want to be able to have my Power BI online report connected to these remote data files, and then open report on Power BI site or on Android app, to always have latest remote data refresh.


When I am at  there is no option for remote data sources except for Azure and using Gateway connector.


There appears to be no options for connecting to remote server.


Am I missing something?


I have Office 365 E3 account. Are there options to get remote server data published into Sharepoint directory, and then source Power BI report from file in Sharepoint?







Super User
Super User

Not sure of the specifics for your files, but the Gateway is the vehicle for automatically refreshing data sources that the Service does not directly support. So, if the Gateway can access those remote files, you would create a Desktop file, publish it and then when the refresh happens, the Gateway would take care of accessing the remote file and updating the data.

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I didn't specify I am using the Power BI Free version that is included with my Office 365 E3 account. Unfortunately Power BI Free doesn't include use of Gateway. Gateway is only in the $9.99 per month Power BI Pro. So that option is ruled out.  
Looks like I have 2 options other than using Gateway:
1. Get Data -> Files -> Sharepoint - Team Sites
I manually uploaded the remote server data files into my Office 365 account Sharepoint folder. Then I uploaded these into my Power BI Free account with Get Data ->Files -> Sharepoint - Team Sites.  It isn't clear if this creates  persistent links to file in Office 365 sharepoint files or it is a one time upload and not sure if the auth I granted to my Office 365 account is retained?
Also now that I have these Office 365 Sharepoint sourced data files in Power BI Free, I can't see any way to 'swap' the existing report data sources to these newly uploaded files. Is that possible?


Perhaps I have to rebuilid my reports on Power BI Desktop with  these Office 365 Sharepoint sourced data files and then republish to Power BI Free? Would the the Office 365 Sharepoint sourced data files link be persistent after publishing?
I would also have to  have to work out how to automate the upload of remote server data files to Office 365 Sharepoint. Would use the Office 365 SharePoint API's using Python not .NET.  There is a lot of help online


From what I can see there is would require having an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) id to do auth which appears to be included Azure Dev Free account can have

2. Power BI REST API
Power BI Free looks like it can use the Power BI REST API to push data into a Dashboard though with limits on how much and how often.  Power BI Free can: 
Consume content that is scheduled to refresh Daily  
Consume streaming data in your dashboards and reports 10K rows/hour

Using Power BI Rest API also requires having an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) id to do auth. 
The question with this Power BI REST API option is: can Power BI REST API connect to my remote server to retrieve data files?
Any other suggestions about how I can get my remote server data into my Power BI Free reports/dashboards?


1. There isn't direct link but it comes with automatic refresh ie your dataset in powerbi wll automatically refresh approx every hour from the file on sharepoint. 


2. Using PowerBI Rest API you can add rows to the tables in your dataset ie you should already have a dataset. Files on remote server are your data sources and you can work out a way to connect to those files from your application and push that data into dataset in power bi. PowerBI Rest API lets you connect to dataset in your power bi account from your application. Therefore if you have a method of connecting to data source (in your case files on remote server) sorted already then you can use REST APIs to push that data into tables in datasets in power bi.

@ankitpatira    thanks that helped. I didn't see the automatic refresh feature in Power BI online before. The Power BI API as you describe it sounds very promising. Will check that out too.



Updated to include link to documentation on how to refresh data source from csv file in Sharepoint:




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