How Data Studio connects to your data

In Data Studio, your information flows from an underlying data set, via a connector, into a data source, and finally appears in your reports. This article describes how this process works at a high level.

Data set iconRight pointing arrow

Data set

Connector iconRight pointing arrow

Connector

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Data Source

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Report

In this article:

What is a data set?

Your data is contained in some kind of underlying repository, referred to here as a data set. Google Analytics reporting views, Google Sheets worksheets, Google Ads accounts, CSV files on disk, and MySQL database tables are all examples of data sets.

Data Studio doesn't import your data*: the data always remains in the underlying system, so your reports remain up to date as your data changes.


*The File Upload connector allows you to store data in Google Cloud Storage.


What is a connector?

A connector is the mechanism by which Data Studio accesses your data set. Connectors serve as a kind of pipe between data "out in the wild" and the Data Studio data source. When you connect to your data, the connector requests your credentials and remembers them, ensuring you can only access the information you are authorized to see.

Learn more about connectors.

What is a data source?

A data source is a configurable, reusable, and shareable component that provides the fields you can use in reports. In addition, data sources control who has access to view the data in those reports.

Data source configuration

You can modify a data source in various ways, such as renaming its fields, creating new metrics and dimensions, changing field data types and aggregation methods, and disabling fields so they can't be used in a report. You can also turn on or off the ability for report editors to configure fields in individual charts (known as field editing in reports).

Share data sources

Sharing a data source lets other editors use them to create reports based on your data. Those editors don't have to have direct access to the data set (that access is granted via the connector).

Control access to your data

To configure who gets to see the data in a report, you select the data source credentials option. You have 2 options:

  • Owner's credentials uses your credentials when another user requests the data via the data source. This allows you to provide data to other people, even if they don't have their own access to the underlying data set. Using owner's credentials enables you to share reports across your organization, or even publicly on the web.
  • Viewer's credentials requires anyone wanting to view the data from your data source to possess their own credentials to the underlying data set. Using viewer's credentials ensures that only authorized viewers can see the data.

Granting owner's credentials access in the data source never grants direct access to the data set. It only grants the ability to see the data provided by that data source in a Data Studio report.

Learn more about data source credentials.

Reports and data sources

When you first create a report, you're prompted to add a data source. Adding a data source to a report lets you use all its fields in your charts and controls. If you share the report with other editors, they can similarly use any added data sources in that report, as well.

You can add multiple data sources to a report, but currently individual charts and controls must be based on a single data source. For example, you can have charts based on Google Analytics and Google Ads in the same report. But each of those charts can only be based on a single data source.

Your reports change with your data

When the data in your underlying data set changes, you'll see the new data appear automatically in reports that use a data source connected to that data. There is no need to reconnect the data source or upload your data.

Data in reports is cached to improve performance, and to reduce potential query costs for paid services, such as BigQuery. If you can edit the report, you can manually update the report cache by clicking Refresh button in the report toolbar.

Learn more about how Data Studio caches data.

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