How to change the #PowerBI desktop file connection from data model to a Power BI Service dataset or #AzureAS

In April 2017 we got the ability to connect our Power BI Reports to datasets in the service (link) and that is really cool.

Today I got a question from a colleague on how to change a reports dataset in order to separate the reports from the data model – thereby having a pbix file with data model and then design reports by connecting to the dataset in the Power BI service and I came up with this workaround.

This technique can also be used if you have reports that you want to change the connection of a report to an Azure Analysis Services or copying a report to another workspace and modify the connection to a dataset in that report.

Let’s see how we can do this

In this example I have designed a data model and report that is connected to data in a SQL database

And deployed the pbix file to the service

This gives us a dataset and a report.

Now if we open the report and chose to export as pbix

Now I named the report – Demo PBI Exported.pbix

This will include the data model including all the queries etc.

If we deploy the this to the service again we will end up with 2 datasets – not a good idea – we will end up with two datamodels 😦

The best thing would be that this report was tied to the dataset in the service – but the “Get Data” doesn’t give us the option to change the connection in a file with a data model


So, I decided to create another pbix file with a connection to the Power BI

This gives me the same fields but is connected to the service

Notice that you can’t see the data and relationship in the panel to the left


So now I have 2 pbix files – one connected to the service and one with the report and the datamodel (and the original model)

First thing is to change the 2 files extension to zip – as the pbix files is just a zip file with different files within.

Now the exported pbix files listed in the picture to the right has a “large” datamodel as it includes the data and queries.

I then extracted both zip files to separate folders

I then copied the 2 files



From the pbix file connected to the service

And pasted them into the folder containing the extracted pbix file Exported from the service

I choose to overwrite the existing

Deleted the file called datamodel and zip all the files in the container to a new zip file – in this case called magic

Now change the extension to pbix and opened the file.

This will give us this look of our reports

Not exactly Magic you might say – but wait – It actually is – now go the get data and connect to the Power BI Service


And voila your report is now connected to the Power BI service


When publishing this to the service you won’t get another dataset but a new report connected to the dataset.


And even better when/if users download the report as a pbix file its connected to the service and not the data model.

Using this method also enables you to copy reports between workspaces and just point to the correct power bi service dataset.


Can it be done if we want to change connection to Azure Analysis Services – It sure can 🙂


So, I uploaded the pbix file to Azure Analysis Services to create a copy of the data model in Azure using the web-designer.


I then repeated the steps of overwriting the Connections and Mashup files in the extracted zip folder with the files from the extracted service folder.

And created a new zip file – Magic Azure – then change the extension to pbix and opened the file.

Opened the Get Data experience and switched to Azure Group and choose Azure Analysis services database


And entered the server and database information

And the report is now connected to an Azure Analysis Services 😀

This file can now be published to any workspace as it isn’t connected to the Power BI service – dataset.

This will of course give us a new dataset in the service as it is pointing to the Azure Analysis Services

You should also check out what you can do with the Power BI Rest API if you are interested in automating the creation of reports and changing connection to data set – but you can’t do the rebinding of a report to a power bi dataset using the API’s (but it would be nice if we could)

Link to documentation about the Power BI Rest API’s – find them here

Please Please


Please let me know if you find this useful by adding a comment or a like on this post.
























50 thoughts on “How to change the #PowerBI desktop file connection from data model to a Power BI Service dataset or #AzureAS

    1. Just tried it – and it gave me a smaller file as the data isn’t included in the pbit and you can use the same method.

      And lets hope that MS adds the feature to change a pbix files connection to the service instead – that would be a lot nicer than this hack 🙂

      1. Be careful – both methods (changing the PBIX/PBIT file and modifying the Power BI Desktop model connecting through OLAP port) are not supported by MS. The safest way is to change PBIT and open it in PBI Desktop, then save it. At that point, the file probably works well. Changes applied to PBIX are more risky (you can lose your data). Changes applied through OLAP port might produce unexpected results, because the power BI UI is not aware of what you are doing and any action could result in many errors (you are navigating in unexplored code execution paths).
        I hope MS will provide a *supported* way to change the data model outside from Power BI (I’m personally pushing on this a lot).
        You can vote this if you want to support that:

  1. Tried to use this approach to replace one PBI service dataset by another PBI service dataset, but copying the files from one pbix to another pbix creates corrupted file. So I am getting the message “Unable to open document. This file is corrupted or was created by an unrecognized version of Power BI Desktop. It can’t be opened.”

      1. Finally found out the solution for replacing online dataset. It was enough just to delete the Connections file from inside of pbix file downloaded from the Power BI Service. Maybe, it would simplify also your case: just deleting Connections file instead of replacing it.

      2. I have the same issue as Kirill with corrupted file error and cannot find how to solve it.
        Also, not fully get what do you mean by “Deleted the file called datamodel” – is this original Demo.pbix?

      3. If you have a pbix file where it is in imported mode it will have a file called datamodel – if you use a connection to a powerbi dataset in the service – you wont have that file. Are you trying to change that tupe of connection ?

      4. Maybe one clarification to add: the report I am trying to move to move to another workspace is already created as direct connection to PowerBI Service. Now just need to move it to another workspace by reconnecting to the identical data model which is also located in my desired destination workspace test and production workspaces).

  2. Life Saver! This is awesome and saved me a heap of time. I thought I was going to have to re-build the report from scratch to switch to the PowerBI Service. Phew!

  3. Hi good workaround works perfectly. I just tried this out but found that when I publish the “redefined” report it generates another version of the report, even though published with the same name as downloaded pbix file from service.
    Example: I download “A.pbix” from Report “A” in service that is pointed to dataset A. I follow all steps successfully and finally I have in Power BI desktop the A.pbix wired to dataset B in service. All good works fine, I publish, expecting A.pbix will ask to replace the existing one…but it doesnt, rather publishes another instance of Report A, with a different share url, and none of the existing users the existing report A was shared with.
    Am I able to explain the problem? Is there any way to keep the url and dist intact while changing the dataset? Please suggest

  4. Hi there Erik. Many many thanks as this saved me a lot of time !
    Well explained, not found any documentation on this except on your blog. Thanks again.

  5. Pingback: Switching from imported data to DirectQuery or Live Connection in Power BI – XXL BI

  6. Neat and useful. thank you much Eric.
    now, i wonder if same technique can be used to copy / move visuals between PBIX packages.

    1. Hi Stefan – thx – I have played a little around with updating report content but never got it to work – I have only used the Power BI Rest API to update report content and that worked

      Best Regards

  7. Pingback: #powerbi – Switching a report from one PowerBI dataset to another PowerBI dataset – Erik Svensen – Blog about Power BI, Power Apps, Power Query

  8. It works. Really great, It save us a lot of time.
    I was triying to edit the report/layout file but any change is rejected by PowerBI

  9. Good afternoon, Erick.
    I tried to change the Connections file from within the .PBIX file using the method of unpacking the .PBIX file and then recompiling.
    But when I try to open the .PBIX file a corrupted file error appears.
    Can you help me?
    Thank you

      1. It is a connection to Analysis Services.
        I need to change the connection, because in the scenario I have several Analysis banks, so I need to change to try to publish in an automated way.
        I have 12 PBIX files for 33 Analysis banks.

  10. Hi Reinaldo – Is there an updated version of this procedure? I have used it successfully in the past, but it no longer works.

    I simply unzipped the PBI Desktop file that’s connected to the PBI Service (“Demo connected to service.pbix” in your example), then immediately zipped up again, and then change the extension back to .pbix. When I open, PBI Desktop reports “Demo connected to service.pbix is corrupt or an invalid report file”.

    I’m using Version 2.65.5313.701 64-bit (December 2018) of Power BI desktop.

      1. I haven’t even tried to replace any of the files inside the ZIP yet. Just the act of unzipping the PBIX files and then re-zipping it causes PBI desktop to treat this file as corrupt. I was able to get this working by using WinZip to unzip and zip the files, rather than Window’s native ZIP file handler.

  11. Hi Erik – I’m connecting directly to an Analysis Services Server. What are the specific steps for this method since I am getting the corrupted file error?

  12. Hi Erik,
    if Power Bi have connection versus SQL server i don’t find a connection file. Is it possible change the connection like Analysis Services Procedure?

    1. Hi Marco, if you are importing the data from a sql server you have to do this via the Query editor and modify the steps in your queries that connect to the SQL server – usually the first step in your queries called Source – you might even use parameters to specify the server and database name in one place and refer to these parameters in your queries instead. best regards Erik

      1. Grazi Erik for the quick answer. My problem is that I don’t have access to the production database, so I can’t perform the steps you tell me.This operation with SSAS allows me to change the data source even if I do not have access to the production tabular. But if the connection is to SQL I can’t find a solution because the connection file is not generated and I can’t understand where it saves the connection string. Many Thanks

  13. Grazi Erika for the quick answer. My problem is that I don’t have access to the production database, so I can’t perform the steps you tell me.This operation with SSAS allows me to change the data source even if I do not have access to the production tabular. But if the connection is to SQL I can’t find a solution because the connection file is not generated and I can’t understand where it saves the connection string. Many Thanks

  14. Is this expected to still work today? I can extract / rezip and open a file with no problem, but trying to copy the Connections / Datamashup files over and deleted the Datamodel file always seems to yield the corrupted file error for me

    1. It’s not working for me either. I have used this technique successfully in the past, but hasn’t been working for several months now.

  15. This method doesn’t seem to work anymore. Here’s what you can do:
    – go to the query editor (transform data)
    – delete all queries
    – close and apply
    – now you can connect to a dataset in the power bi service.

    Just did it 2 minutes ago, works like a charm.

  16. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking
    more of your great post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!

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