Connect to your data

Understand how connectors and data sources work together.

To visualize your information in a Data Studio report, the first step is to connect to the underlying data. This can be data contained in an advertising or social media platform, such as a Google Ads or Facebook, a MySQL database, a Google Sheets spreadsheet, a CSV file, etc.

Connecting to your data involves two components that work together:

  • Connectors connect Data Studio to your underlying data. Connecting to your data creates a data source in Data Studio.
  • Data sources represent a particular instance of a connector: for example, a connection to a specific Analytics view, MySQL table, or Google Sheet. Data sources let you configure the fields and options provided by the connector used to create that connection instance. In addition, the data source gives you a secure way to share information and insights with report viewers who may not be able to directly access the underlying data.

How connectors work

Each of the available connectors is tailored to a particular product or platform, and provides a specific set of fields and configuration options back to Data Studio. Some connectors provide all the fields from the underlying data (for example, Google Sheets and BigQuery connectors). Other connectors provide a subset of the fields from the original data (for example, Analytics and Ads).

Most connectors require you to authorize your access to the data, and some may allow or require you to provide additional options or parameters. Once you've connected to your data, the fields, authorization, and other details of that connection are stored in a data source. See below.

How to use connectors

Conceptually, connecting to and visualizing your data involves seven steps.

(Detailed instructions are here.)

  1. Decide on the type of data to which you want to connect.
  2. In Data Studio, select a connector that matches that type of data.
  3. Authorize the connection to the platform or product you selected.
  4. Select the specific data you want to connect to, and configure any additional options or parameters.
  5. Confirm your selections to create a data source based on this connection.
  6. Add the data source to a report.
  7. Add charts and controls so you can use that information in your reports.

Types of connectors

There are, broadly speaking, three types of connectors:

  • Google connectors are built by Google and let you access data from Analytics, Ads, Sheets, BigQuery, and other Google products. Learn more about Google connectors.
  • Partner connectors are built and supported by Data Studio developer partners. Partner connectors let you access data stored in other Google and non-Google platforms, such as Facebook, Reddit, or GitHub. For more information, refer to the documentation provided by each partner connector. To see the list of available partner connectors, visit the connector gallery and scroll down to the partner connector section.
  • Community connectors are connectors anyone can build. These let you access any internet connected data, such as your own private corporate databases. Learn more about the Community Connectors developer program.

The connector gallery

The connector gallery.

How data sources work

A data source is a Data Studio file that lets you manage and configure a specific connection to your data. Data sources are responsible for:

  • Controlling who can view the data provided by the connector.
  • Letting you customize the fields available for use in reports.
  • Letting you share a common view of your data with other report editors.
  • Providing other data management configuration options.

Types of data sources

There are several kinds of data sources:

  • Live connection data sources update the data in your reports automatically. The data remains in the underlying data set; it is not stored by Data Studio. Most connectors create data sources of this type.
  • Extracted data sources provide a static snapshot of your data, which gives better performance when querying the data. You can update the snapshot whenever you want.
  • Blended data sources combine the fields from up to 5 data sources. Blended data sources only exist in the reports in which you create them. They can't be shared independently from the report.

Reports and data sources

Once you've created a data source, you can add it to reports. This lets you use all of the fields in that data source as the basis for your visualizations. Reports can include multiple data sources, allowing you to visualize data from different platforms in the same report.

The diagram below illustrates a report that gets its data from three different platforms, Google Analytics, Google Ads, and a third-party platform (such as Salesforce or Facebook) provided by a partner connector:

Report Report icon
Data Sources Data source icon Data source icon Data source icon
Connectors Connector icon Connector icon Connector icon
Product or platform

Share data sources

Sharing a data source lets other editors add it to reports, even if those editors don't have direct access to the underlying data itself. Note that sharing a data source does not grant access to the underlying data. When you share a data source, you have the option of giving other people view-only access or edit access.

  • You can share reports without sharing its data sources.​
  • Caution: If you share a data source with edit access, other editors may be able to modify the data source in ways that break your reports.

Learn more about sharing data sources.


Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?