PBI: Report couldn’t access the data source

You’ve opened a report in PowerBI Service and you get the dreaded “This report couldn’t access the data source. Contact <author name> the author, to have it fixed.”

Image of the error message.

As we are expanding our report offerings and learning more with PBI Service, we get this message a lot. Often it’s a security issue, and this post isn’t about that rabbit hole, but rather a short and sweet reminder about a preliminary check that is often overlooked: is your data source up and running?

A lot of times in our Dev environment we’ve had something go wonky with our tabular model and need to re-Process the database. (That’s what dev environments are for – right?) This is what happened this morning when one of our developers reached out with this error message. As I first started heading down the security route, I paused and decided to check the database first. Ding-dong! Nothing weird in PBI, it was our tabular model. A quick checked of a few tables in the cube confirmed that it wasn’t giving anything to anyone. Reprocessing the cube and then refreshing both the data AND the page(s) that give the error message in PBI cleared everything up.

Moral of the story and to put a twist on Occam’s Razor: check the easiest thing first.

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