Millions of people use Microsoft’s Power BI to generate compelling visuals and analyze complex sets of data. One of the most successful versions of this software is Power BI Pro, a paid subscription that gives users the power to share reports and information with other Pro users.

This version of the software has a few weaknesses. Power BI Pro limitations include higher operational costs, data size restrictions, and logistical issues. These problems can affect your bottom line and make report generation harder.

Before you make the switch from a free Power BI license to Power BI Pro, you should consider all of these limitations and have a plan in place to counter them.

Six Power BI Pro Limitations 

The main reason why organizations buy Power BI Pro licenses is because they need to share reports across the enterprise and encourage staff to collaborate on projects. For $9.99 per user per month, Pro users get access to all of the same features as Power BI free users. In addition, they can:

  • Share pre-built dashboards;
  • Share reports with anyone in the organization; 
  • Share reports outside of the organization (only with other Pro users);
  • Work on new reports as a team remotely; and 
  • Connect to Excel spreadsheets and other Microsoft support services.

Power BI Pro expands on the offerings available in the free version. However, in some cases, the free version or other Power BI Pro alternatives are a better option. That’s because there are a number of Power BI Pro limitations that can hinder some businesses.

Six Power BI Pro limitations include:

  • Higher cost: Although a Pro license only costs $9.99 per user per month, this adds up over time. Having just one user with a Pro license could cost your company nearly $120 per year, and if you have multiple staff members, this expense increases exponentially.
  • Data limits: You can only store 1 GB of data per file or data set. You also get 10 GB of storage total per user. This is a serious problem for organizations that need to analyze multiple data sets or large sets of data. You’ll run out of space quickly.
  • Restricted sharing: While you can share dashboards and reports with other users, these users must either be part of your organization or have a valid Power BI Pro license.
  • No dedicated capacity: You have to share computational resources with other Power BI users. This isn’t an issue in some industries, but many businesses prefer to have their own dedicated resource to bolster security and improve computational efficiency.
  • Limited data refresh: Your data is only refreshed eight times per day. For some organizations this is sufficient, but it may be too risky for those that can’t afford to lose important updates or data.
  • No access to Power BI Report Server: You can’t build on-premise data storage or keep your data behind a firewall. This is a problem for organizations that want to control their own data security and manage their own servers.

These Power BI Pro limitations may not affect your company. For example, some organizations don’t require any extensive data storage or on-premise infrastructure. For these companies, Power BI Pro is a great option. For others, the cons of this system outweigh the pros. To decide whether this version of Power BI is right for your organization, consider your business strategy and budget.

How Do These Power BI Pro Limitations Affect Your Business? 

Power BI Pro is meant for small-scale or medium-scale businesses that want to create stunning visuals and share them within the organization. This version of the software is less expensive than many other visualization tools on the market. If you only need to purchase licenses for a small number of users and you have a few extra hundred dollars available in your annual IT budget, then upgrading to a Power BI Pro license is fairly cost-effective. The benefits outweigh the extra cost.

However, if you have a tight budget or a large staff, then Power BI Pro’s limitations will eventually catch up with you. Buying licenses for dozens of users isn’t an option for organizations that have razor-thin margins or modest IT budgets.

Additionally, some organizations may not find the benefits of Power BI Pro that compelling. You must decide whether it’s worth approximately $120 per year per user to gain the ability to share and collaborate on reports. For some organizations, this is a fantastic investment that will help their staff work more efficiently. For others, collaboration isn’t as important, so the free version is adequate.

Or, your organization may need more features than Power BI Pro can provide. This software can’t handle large data sets, firewalls, on-premise servers, or unlimited sharing between organizations. If you need any of these features, consider upgrading to a Power BI Premium license or hiring an IT services firm.

Should You Use Power BI Pro? 

You can overlook many of these Power BI Pro limitations if you just want visualization software that’s easy to use and can be shared among your staff.

However, many modern organizations demand more from their visualization software. To stay competitive and agile, more businesses are realizing that there’s significant value in custom visualization software. An IT services firm can provide you with secure cloud storage at a much higher capacity compared with Power BI Pro. The firm will also create custom interactive dashboards to help you make better business decisions. You can share all of this information with whoever you choose. It’s even possible to create user authorizations that allow users to only have access to certain types of data at any given time.

All of these features are just as simple to use as in Power BI Pro, so there’s no additional training needed. Moreover, they’re priced based on the features you want, so you’ll never pay for services you won’t use. With a custom system designed by an IT services firm, you’ll avoid these Power BI Pro limitations and draw more meaningful insights from your data.


If you’re looking for a custom visualization tool that fosters collaboration and sharing, contact Tek Leaders today. Our suite of visualization tools include self-service reporting, intelligent dashboards, secure report sharing, and comprehensive BI portals. If you have more questions about Power BI Pro or any other popular visualization software tools, you can reach us by email directly.  

    Author: Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu

    Devender (Dev) Reddy Aerrabolu is the CEO of Tek Leaders. His goal is to help SMBs bring value from their data. Dev helped Tek Leaders grow from scratch into a $25 million enterprise by focusing on clients’ data needs.

    August 27, 2019