What Gateways Are Available in Power BI and Why Use Them?
by Christian Ofori-Boateng on Jan 5, 2021 8:00:00 AM
As you work in Power BI, you will find that you need a way for your cloud-based data to communicate with your on-premises data. You want your data that is on the server to remain safe and secure on the server, but you and others need to access it in order to generate reports. The solution is a gateway. Let’s go through the specifics.
What is a Gateway in Power BI?
A Power BI Gateway serves as a pathway between your on-premises data and your cloud-based apps. A gateway is secure and encrypted, so you know your data is safe as it travels. It requires correct authentication in order to access the data, so it will only open for registered users.
A gateway does not actually transfer data, which means it stays on your server even as clients access it. It simply provides a connection point to the cloud. A gateway allows users to access the data for the purposes of making reports or dashboards.
The gateway also allows you to refresh your reports with current data regularly. It’s free to install and relatively simple to configure.
On-premises Gateway: Personal Mode
There are two gateways options available for Power BI. Personal Mode is pretty self-explanatory: it’s for a single user. When in personal mode, your gateway will connect Power BI cloud and on-premises data for an individual data analyst. If you only need one person to access the data, Personal Mode may work for you.
You can run it as an app even if you aren’t an administrator, which is not true of Standard mode (which we’ll get into next). Personal mode allows you to import data and schedule a refresh, but it does not connect to other apps that you may be using. For this reason, Microsoft and many users recommend you use Standard Mode instead.
On-premises Gateway: Standard/Recommended Mode
Standard/Recommended Mode is the default choice when you download Gateway. It allows multiple users to access data, and offers more functionality. In standard mode, you can connect to not only Power BI, but also Power Apps, Azure Logic Apps, Power Automate, Azure Analysis Services, and Dataflo.
You’ll have the same import and refresh capabilities as in Personal Mode, but you can also use DirectQuery. Within this mode, administrators have oversight capabilities and can access all data from all users.
How to Install a Gateway in Power BI
You’ll want to ensure you are physically connected to the internet because many analysts have noticed lagging from their gateway when using a wireless connection.
It can be tricky to convert from personal mode to standard mode on a device, so think carefully about which one you will need for the long term. Standard mode comes highly recommended and can generally suit your needs the best.
- From your Power BI Workspace, click the download arrow in the top right and choose “Download Gateway”
- A download page will open: click “Download Gateway” again
- Click “next” to enter the installer
- Choose the mode you prefer
- Confirm terms and conditions
- Sign in to your Power BI account
- Register the Gateway with your computer
- Choose a name and a recovery key for your gateway
Once your gateway is installed and registered, you are ready to put it to use. You’ll need to connect the data sources you want to the gateway.
To add a data source to your gateway, you’ll first need to get the file path for an on-premises file.
- Open a .pbix in Power BI Desktop
- Click edit queries
- Click data source settings
- Choose the data source you want front the list and click change source
- Copy the file path from the box that opens
Once you have the file path copied, open Power Bi Service online and go to Settings.
- Click manage gateways and choose the gateway you want to connect
- Click add data source
- Copy your file path into the box and enter the other information
- Click add: you should get a confirmation that the connection was successful
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