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Announcing support for backup and restore of Power BI datasets

We are excited to announce the public preview of Backup and Restore for datasets in Power BI Premium and Premium per User (PPU). You can now use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Analysis Services cmdlets for PowerShell, and other tools to perform backup and restore operations in Power BI via XMLA endpoints in much the same way as you would for tabular models in Azure Analysis Services (Azure AS) (see the following screenshot). With this improvement, Power BI Premium closes an important gap to Azure AS. It paves the way for a more seamless migration of Azure AS workloads to Power BI.

Even if you are not migrating Azure AS workloads to Power BI, you might want to evaluate backup and restore of Power BI datasets during the public preview period. After all, it is a good idea to backup Power BI datasets on a regular basis for more reasons than simply being able to restore a dataset within a given timeframe after a loss or corruption. Laws and regulations might require you to maintain backups for several years and store them offline in a tamper-proof vault for record keeping. With Backup and Restore in Power BI Premium, you can meet these requirements. Dataset backups might also help facilitate tenant consolidations and migrations for mergers and acquisitions. Now, you can backup the datasets in the old tenant(s) and then restore them in a new or consolidated Power BI environment.

The Backup and Restore feature takes advantage of the Azure connections infrastructure in Power BI, which up to this point existed primarily to enable customers to register an Azure Data Lake Gen2 (ADLS Gen2) storage account at the tenant or workspace level for dataflow storage. By using the same ADLS Gen2 storage account for dataset backups, Power BI avoids the need for yet another storage account and additional configuration complexity while at the same time leveraging ADLS Gen2 high-availability and disaster-recovery features, which you might appreciate for your online backups. For offline backup purposes, on the other hand, you can download the backup files from your ADLS Gen2 storage account using the file system, Azure Storage Explorer, .NET tools, and PowerShell cmdlets, such as the Get-AzDataLakeGen2ItemContent cmdlet. The following screenshot shows a workspace with three datasets and their corresponding backup files in Azure Storage Explorer.

For information about how to configure Power BI to use an ADLS Gen2 storage account, see Configuring dataflow storage to use Azure Data Lake Gen 2 in the product documentation. If you have configured your Premium capacities for Multi-Geo support, as described in Configure Multi-Geo support for Power BI Premium, note that the Backup and Restore feature does not support Multi-Geo during public preview. In other words, dataflow data and dataset backups might not be stored in the region of your Power BI Premium capacity because you must provision the storage account in your tenant’s home region. Make sure you double-check your data residency requirements before configuring your workspaces on a Multi-Geo capacity with a storage account.

With an ADLS Gen2 storage account associated with a workspace, workspace admins can perform backup and restore operations. If you also have owner permissions at the storage account, you can explore the underlying backup directory structure by using Azure Storage Explorer, as in the screenshot above. Power BI associates workspaces with their backup directories based on the workspace name. With owner permissions at the storage account, you can download backup files or copy them from their original location to the backup directory of a different workspace and restore them there if you happen to be a workspace administrator in the target workspace as well. Because storage account owners have unrestricted access to the backup files, make sure you guard the storage account permissions carefully. For more information, see Backup and restore datasets with Power BI Premium (preview)  in the product documentation.

And that’s it for a whirlwind tour of this exciting new capability in Power BI. We hope this improvement enables you to meet your organization’s backup and data retention needs with less effort and make migrations of enterprise BI workloads from Azure AS to Power BI more seamless than in the past. It is important to remind you that Backup and Restore requires you to work with XMLA-based tools, such as SSMS. There is no Backup or Restore option in the Power BI user interface yet. Due to the XMLA dependency, Backup and Restore currently requires your datasets to reside on a Premium or PPU capacity.