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Power BI Import Vs Direct Query mode difference

Import vs Direct Mode Comparison

In this blog, you will understand the difference between Import and Direct Query modes. Let’s begin with the definition.

Import Mode-

In Import mode Power BI Desktop store the data inside Power BI Cache. If your data size is less then 1 GB or data not continually changing then you can use Import mode.

Import mode is very fast compare to Direct Query mode because all data comes from Power BI Desktop Cache.

DirectQuery Mode-

Direct Query data connectivity mode allows you to Direct Connection with live data base. It does not load or copied data into Power BI model, because data directly came from data source.

Import Mode Vs DirectQuery Mode feature comparison-

Feature Import DirectQuery
Size Up to 1 GB per dataset No limitation
Data Source support Import data from Multiple sources Data must come from a single Source
Performance High-performance query engine Depends on how fast the network connectivity and data source is as queries are executed in real-time. Only metadata and schema structure is stored on the Data model
Data Change in the underlying data Not Reflected. Required to do a Manual refresh in Power BI Desktop and republish the report or Schedule Refresh Power BI caches the data for better performance. So, it is necessary to Refresh to ensure the latest data
Data storage in Power BI Since it is a cached mode, data is stored in the Power BI Service (cloud) Data will not be stored in the Power BI cloud service. Data resides on-premises
Schedule Refresh Maximum 8 schedules per day Schedule often as every 15 mins
Power BI Gateway Only required to get latest data from On-premise data sources Must require to get data from On-premise data sources
Data Transformations Supports all transformations Supports many data transformations with some limitations
Data Modelling No limitation Some limitations such as auto-detect relationships between tables and relationships are limited to a single direction.
Built-in Date Hierarchy Available Not available
DAX expressions Supports all DAX functions Restricted to use complex DAX functions such as Time Intelligence functions. However, if there is a Date table available in the underlying source then it supports
Clustering Available Not available
Calculated Tables Available Not supported
Quick Insights Available Not available
Q&A Available DirectQuery support for Q&A (preview)
Change Data Connectivity mode Not possible to change Import to DirectQuery Possible to change DirectQuery to Import
Security Can create row-level security on the PBI dataset (import only) Re-use on-prem row-level security for Analysis Services Tabular using DAX expressions
Target Audience Small and Medium Datasets Large Datasets (Greater than 1 GB)

Refer other Power BI topics: Power BI tutorials

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