Setting Up Power BI DirectQuery: 5 Easy Steps

Vishal Agrawal • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Power BI DirectQuery

Do you wish to understand what Microsoft Power BI is? Do you want to understand the importance of Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery and how you can set it up to directly connect to your data sources? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place.

Data Visualization is an essential aspect of today’s digital era. It helps businesses recognize emerging trends and respond rapidly. These patterns make a lot more sense when represented graphically. This is because visuals and diagrams make it easier for them to identify and understand all strongly correlated attributes.

Even though are a lot of relations that are obvious, there are others that need to be recognized and clarified to help businesses concentrate on a particular data point that can have an effect on their profits. This helps businesses save time and solve problems more efficiently.

There are numerous Data Visualization tools that are available on the market. One of the most well-known tools is Microsoft Power BI. This article will provide you with an understanding of what Microsoft Power BI is and how you can directly query your data sources to perform analysis and create visualizations using Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery.

Table of Contents

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI Logo
Image Source: Sereviso

Microsoft Power BI is a visualization tool offered by Microsoft to manage and analyze data from different sources and create appealing visualization to provide insights from data. Microsoft Power BI pulls the data from sources and turns them into powerful insights by processing and analyzing them. It helps users measure the performance of their organization and campaigns.

The different variants of Microsoft Power BI are as follows:

  • A Windows-based Desktop application known as Power BI Desktop.
  • Online Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is known as Power BI Service.
  • Mobile Versions are known as Power BI Apps.

Microsoft Power BI is built on the Microsoft Excel Framework, and hence users find it very easy to migrate from Microsoft Excel to Microsoft Power BI. However, the latter is far more potent than its spreadsheet counterpart.

More information on Microsoft Power BI can be found here.

Simplify Data Analysis with Hevo’s No-code Data Pipeline

Hevo Data, a No-code Data Pipeline helps to load data from any data source such as Databases, SaaS applications, Cloud Storage, SDKs, and Streaming Services and simplifies the ETL process. It supports 100+ data sources (including 30+ free data sources) like Asana and is a 3-step process by just selecting the data source, providing valid credentials, and choosing the destination. Hevo not only loads the data onto the desired Data Warehouse/destination but also enriches the data and transforms it into an analysis-ready form without having to write a single line of code.


Its completely automated pipeline offers data to be delivered in real-time without any loss from source to destination. Its fault-tolerant and scalable architecture ensure that the data is handled in a secure, consistent manner with zero data loss and supports different forms of data. The solutions provided are consistent and work with different BI tools as well.

Check out why Hevo is the Best:

  • Secure: Hevo has a fault-tolerant architecture that ensures that the data is handled in a secure, consistent manner with zero data loss.
  • Schema Management: Hevo takes away the tedious task of schema management & automatically detects the schema of incoming data and maps it to the destination schema.
  • Minimal Learning: Hevo, with its simple and interactive UI, is extremely simple for new customers to work on and perform operations.
  • Hevo Is Built To Scale: As the number of sources and the volume of your data grows, Hevo scales horizontally, handling millions of records per minute with very little latency.
  • Incremental Data Load: Hevo allows the transfer of data that has been modified in real-time. This ensures efficient utilization of bandwidth on both ends.
  • Live Support: The Hevo team is available round the clock to extend exceptional support to its customers through chat, email, and support calls.
  • Live Monitoring: Hevo allows you to monitor the data flow and check where your data is at a particular point in time.

Key Features of Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI can be seen as an extension of Microsoft Excel having more power and analytical muscle to perform analysis. Some of the key features of Microsoft Power BI are as follows:

  • Microsoft Power BI is a powerful Business Intelligence tool that can ingest the data, analyze them and create visualizations to provide better insights about operations and performances. 
  • Power BI can quickly process vast volumes of data. 
  • Has exceptional Machine Learning libraries that help users to perform Predictive Analytics. 
  • Contains pre-built templates that allow businesses to create an effective dashboard for in-depth analysis of their data. 
  • Available in the cloud so that users can access the functionality everywhere.
  • Microsoft Power BI allows users to set up alerts to keep users up-to-date on essential metrics and measurements.
  • Power BI has a user-friendly interface and allows users to navigate smoothly.
  • Microsoft Power BI can integrate with other platforms like Microsoft Office 365, Apache Spark, Apache Hadoop, Google Analytics, Salesforce, MailChimp, and many more. 


  • Active Microsoft Power BI setup. You can find and download various versions of Microsoft Power BI from here.
  • Basic understanding of data and visualization.
  • Connection details for the data source. 

Steps to Set Up Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery

Microsoft Power BI Desktop allows users to import a copy of the data and apply all the analytical queries to perform analysis. However, it also enables users to connect to data sources directly and execute the required queries.

Microsoft has segregated the data sources supported by Microsoft Power BI to perform direct queries and are listed in Microsoft Power BI Data Sources.

Follow the below step-by-step guide to see how you can connect data sources and set up Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery.

  • Step 1: Launch Microsoft Power BI Desktop.
  • Step 2: Navigate to the Home ribbon and select Get Data > SQL Server or any other data source as per your requirements.
Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery
Image Source: Microsoft Docs
  • Step 3: A dialogue box will appear that asks to select the Data Connectivity option, i.e. “Import” or “DirectQuery.”
  • Step 4: Add server details, and database name, and select “DirectQuery.”
  • Step 5: Click “OK” to create the necessary connections.

The differences between Import and Power BI DirectQuery are as follows:

  • Import: When selecting the import option, the selected tables and columns will be imported to Microsoft Power BI, which means the data will be transferred from the data source to Microsoft Power BI Desktop. You can create a visualization on top of it. Any changes in the source data will be reflected only upon refresh.
  • DirectQuery: In the case of Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery, there is no copy of the data source but a logical connection will be created between Microsoft Power BI and the data source. You can create visualizations on this data, and as it is a live connection between Microsoft Power BI and the data source, you will always view the up-to-date visualizations.

Benefits of Using Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery

In the above section, you have seen how to connect data sources via Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery. Using Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery has many benefits; some of them are as follows:

  • Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery helps you create visualization over huge datasets without creating any copies, thereby providing faster access to data. 
  • Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery uses Live Data Connection, and hence the data will always be up-to-date. Whereas in the case of Import, the data can be stale as it requires a frequent refresh to fetch the latest data. 
  • There are no data size limitations for Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery.

Limitations of Using Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery

As you know, for every pro, there are some cons associated with it. The same is with Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery as well. The limitations of using Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery are as follows:  

  • Complex queries tend to produce errors. To remove the error, you either need to simplify the query or import the data rather than using the DirectQuery approach.
  • In Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery, Single Sign-On is not supported for calculated tables and columns. 
  • Calculations and transformation on Date/Time columns are not supported in Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery. For example, drilling the data by year, month, and date isn’t supported in Direct Query mode.
  • There is a limit of 1 million rows in Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery. If over 1 million rows are returned from DirectQuery Aggregations, Microsoft Power BI returns an error.


This article provided you with an in-depth understanding of what Microsoft Power BI is and how you can set up Microsoft Power BI DirectQuery to access your data sources directly.

Most modern businesses rely on multiple platforms to run their day-to-day operations and perform a comprehensive analysis of their business data. In order to perform a common analysis of all this data across various platforms, businesses have to first integrate data from all these sources and store it in a centralized location. Making an in-house solution to perform this integration is a complex task that would require immense engineering bandwidth for development and maintenance. Businesses can instead use existing automated data integration platforms like Hevo.

visit our website to explore hevo[/hevoButton]

Hevo helps you directly transfer data from a source of your choice to a Data Warehouse or desired destination in a fully automated and secure manner without having to write the code. It will make your life easier and make data migration hassle-free. It is User-Friendly, Reliable, and Secure.

SIGN UP for a 14-day free trial and see the difference!

No-code Data Pipeline for Your Data Warehouse