About data sources

Learn how Data Studio connects to your data.

A data source is a specific instance of a connection to your data. Data sources provide the structure (schema) of the fields you or other report editors can use to create your reports. Data sources also provide a number of other important functions:

  • Data sources provide access control to the data via credentials.
  • Data sources give you a way to model your data, for example, by creating calculated fields, adding parameters, and adjusting data types.
  • Data sources can provide a consistent definition for the metrics and dimensions that are shared across your business.
  • Data sources are where you can set other options, such as data freshness and email filters.

When you create a new report in Data Studio, you either add an existing data source, or create and add a new one. You can add as many data sources, of any type, to a report, as needed.

Learn how to add data to a report.

Data sources and connectors

Data sources use connectors to fetch your data from a specific platform, system, or product. You can use free connectors built by Google to access data such as Google Sheets, Google Ads, Google Analytics, and other Google Marketing Platform products, and more. You can also use connectors built by Data Studio partners via the Community Connectors developer program

Community connectors may cost money to use. If you have issues using a community connector, please contact that connector's developer directly.

To see all the data to which you can connect, visit the Connector gallery.

How (and when) data sources fetch your data

Most data sources maintain a live connection to your data. Your data remains in the underlying data set and is not imported into Data Studio. However, for better performance, your data may be stored temporarily in an in-memory cache. Some data source connections let you adjust how often the cache is refreshed. Learn more about data freshness.

For even faster performance, you can use an extracted data source. The Extract data connector creates a static snapshot of your data. The extracted data is stored securely in Data Studio, and you can update the snapshot whenever you want. 

File upload data sources let you import CSV data into Data Studio. Using a file upload data source, you can visualize information not otherwise supported by the other connectors. File upload data sources behave in many ways like extracted data sources, except you can't update them automatically. You must import new data manually.

Embedded vs. reusable data sources

Data sources can be either embedded or reusable. Reports can include both embedded and reusable data sources.

Data sources you create while editing a report are embedded in the report. To edit an embedded data source, you do so within that report. Embedded data sources make collaborating on reports and data sources easier. Anyone who can edit the report can also edit the data source.

Learn more about embedded data sources.

Data sources that you create from the home page are reusable. You can reuse these data sources in different reports. Reusable data sources let you create and share a consistent data model across your organization. 

Share and copy data sources

When you share or copy a report, all of its embedded data sources are shared or copied along with it. You don't need to share embedded data sources separately from the report. This means that other report editors can modify the data source. 

Reusable data sources aren't copied or shared when you copy or share a report. If you want someone else to be able to modify a reusable data source, then you must share it with them explicitly.

Note that you don't need to share a reusable data source in order for viewers of the report to see the data, or for editors to use the fields provided by the data source to create charts and controls in the report. 

Learn more about sharing reports and data sources.

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