power bi free vs pro versions

Power BI: Free vs Pro version comparison

What can I expect in the Power bi free vs Pro versions?

Which product of Power BI to purchase?

What are the differences between Power BI Free, Pro, and Premium?

These are some of the common questions that might come to your mind when considering Microsoft Power BI for your organization.

Understanding the different products and their uniqueness will answer these questions for you. It will also help you make optimal use of the robust business analytics tool for delivering significant insights throughout your organization.

Which are the different products offered by Power BI?

power bi products portfolio

If you look at Microsoft’s Power BI webpage, you will find there are multiple products of Power BI. The most widely used products are:

  • Power BI Desktop
  • Power BI Pro
  • Power BI Premium

* The premium version is not really required for SMEs or organizations that are just starting with BI tools.

Hence, in this article, we have primarily elaborated on the free and pro versions of Power BI, how to get a free license, and have analyzed Power bi free vs Pro.

But, before we begin. Would you like to know the business benefits of Microsoft Power BI? Click the link below –

Don’t miss to read: 6 business benefits of Power BI

Power BI Free version

The Desktop version of Power BI is absolutely free. You can also have free access to Power BI with most Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans. With these plans, you will get access to the online version, too.

You can connect the Power BI Desktop or the online version with more than 70 datasets. Analyze your data using responsive charts and graphs. It is highly customizable, and you can also export your dashboard to PowerPoint or/and PDF, and make it print-ready.

Advantages of Power BI free license

  • Being a free tool, it’s ideal for beginners. You should explore this version first and use it to create your reports. Once you feel confident enough, it’s best to upgrade to the Pro license.
  • You will have access to most of Power BI features, so designing stunning dashboards is never a challenge with the free version.
  • It’s very suitable to analyze data for self-reference or if you wish to include meaningful graphs in your presentation, or simply print the reports.

Disadvantages of Power BI free license

Though Power BI free is an incredible tool for beginners, it has several limitations:

  • You cannot share your reports with other stakeholders. The main disadvantage of Power BI free is that you can upload the data but cannot share it with your peers or publish it on-premise.
  • Without a Pro license, you cannot view reports shared by other Pro license holders.
  • You will miss out on the unique collaboration advantages of Power BI. (The same is explained in the latter part of the article). 
  • When you share your dashboard without the Pro license, along with the reports, you also make your dataset available to the user.

Best suited for

  • Small businesses and start-ups with less data
  • Professionals or students who want to explore BI tools.
  • Companies with a limited budget for data analysis

power bi free vs pro

Power BI Pro version

It is the complete version of Power BI, which opens to you the world of analysis, communication, and collaboration.

As a Pro license holder, you will get access to all the features of a free license and much more. Along with the 10GB of storage capacity (per user), eight automated refreshes per day, you can enjoy seamless sharing of reports.

Working with the Pro version; you can use the robust BI tool to develop dashboards, share them with anyone and everyone, and get access to reports shared by other Pro users.

The most notable difference between Power BI Free vs Pro is the ability to share dashboards and reports, without jeopardizing your dataset.

Its cost is $9.99 per user. Microsoft also provides a free trial period of 60 days, where you can check out the numerous features.

Advantages of Power BI pro license

  • On-Premise Data Gateways: You can connect it with data available on the cloud and the data hosted on your On-Premise. For instance, connecting and analyzing data on a self-hosted SQL database is possible with Power BI Pro.
  • Collaboration: When you purchase the Pro license, you get access to “My Workspace,” using which you can collaborate with your team members in real-time. You can share dashboards, communicate with your group, and share insights on your dataset. No holds barred!
  • Data privacy: With Pro, you can decide which data to make available to whom. For instance, you have a marketing dashboard that you want to share with the marketing leads – create a Workspace and give access to only those selected members. Thus, only the required information is shared.

Disadvantages of Power BI pro license

Because of limited storage capacity (10GB maximum) and 1 GB report size, it’s not suitable for large organizations with massive databases. As the data size increases, you may have to upgrade to the Premium product of Power BI.

Best suited for

  • Businesses with a presence in multiple locations
  • Organizations with remote employees
  • Small to medium-sized organizations
  • Businesses who are planning to invest in data analysis and BI tools

Power BI Free vs Pro: Features Comparison

Video on comparison between Power BI free vs Pro

Here’s a quick tabular overview of the features offered in the Power BI free vs pro versions –

FeaturesFree versionPro version
Share reports/dashboards with peersNoYes
Create interactive reportsYesYes
Access to Power BI DesktopYesYes
Right to use from mobileYesYes
Access to Power BI onlineYesYes
Import from more than 70+ datasetsYesYes
Export to PowerPoint and PDFYesYes
Analyzing in ExcelNoYes
Publishing to SharePointNoYes
Scheduled data Refresh8/day8/day
The minimum time gap for each data refresh30 mins30 mins
Connection to live data sourcesNoYes
Connect to On-Premise dataYesYes
Collaborate using Office 365 GroupsNoYes
Share reports with stakeholdersNoYes
Access reports shared by other Pro usersNoYes
Table comparing the features of Power BI free and pro versions

Power BI Premium

And lastly, there is the premium version. It’s for companies that want to upgrade their entire organization’s data analytics capabilities.

Unlike Power BI free or Pro, it’s not a per-user license. Using it, you can host up to 50GB datasets with a total of 100TB of data storage. You can refresh your data 48 times a day, with a gap of 1 min.

It costs $4,995 per month. Click here to know more about Power BI premium from the official Microsoft webpage.

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