Power BI versus Excel: Detailed Comparison

Gyansetu Team Business/Data Analytics

In today’s tech-driven business world, everything is based on statistics and data, so the existence of tools that enable us to analyze data intuitively and quickly and transform large databases into discernible information is crucial.

In addition, more and more corporations have begun to realize the significance of data analysis and how it is directly related to improving their company’s performance in the market and therefore increasing profits. That is why selecting the tool, which is best for doing specific work, is critical. 

Power BI and Excel are some of the most prominent data analysis tools, so let us look at a detailed comparison of Power BI versus Excel.

What is Excel? What are the key advantages?

Excel is a powerful spreadsheet software developed by Microsoft and widely used in businesses, organizations, and personal finance management. It allows users to create, edit, and organize large amounts of data in a structured manner and perform complex calculations and analyses using various functions and tools.

  • Some of the key advantages of Excel include the following:

Versatility: Excel can be used for various tasks, including financial analysis, budgeting, project management, data tracking, and more.

Efficiency: Excel allows users to automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry and calculation, saving time and increasing productivity.

Accuracy: Excel has built-in formulas and functions that can perform complex calculations accurately and quickly.

Flexibility: Excel allows users to customize the appearance and layout of their data and create charts and graphs to visualize and communicate their findings.

Accessibility: Multiple users can easily share and access Excel files, making them useful for collaborative work.

What is Power BI? What are the key advantages of Power BI?

Power BI is a business analytics service developed by Microsoft that allows users to visualize and analyze data from various sources, including Excel spreadsheets, databases, and cloud-based services. In addition, it offers tools and features that enable users to create interactive reports, dashboards, and data visualizations.

  • Some of the key advantages of Power BI include the following:

Data Visualization: Power BI allows users to create interactive and visually appealing dashboards and reports, making it easier to understand and communicate complex data.

Data Connectivity: Power BI can connect to a wide range of data sources, including cloud-based services such as Microsoft Azure and Salesforce, allowing users to access and analyze data from multiple sources.

Real-Time Data Analysis: Power BI supports real-time data analysis, meaning users can monitor and analyze data in real-time, making quick, data-driven decisions.

Collaboration: Power BI enables collaboration between teams, allowing users to share reports and dashboards, collaborate on data analysis, and work together more effectively.

Mobile Accessibility: Power BI provides mobile apps for iOS and Android, allowing users to access and analyze data from their mobile devices, making it easier to stay informed and make decisions on the go.

Excel and Power BI are powerful data processing and analysis tools but have different focuses and capabilities.

Power BI versus Excel

Key Differences between Power BI and Excel in terms of data size, custom visualization, Cloud Based features, visualization, Power BI and Excel in terms of Availability, learning Working Flexibility, cost to acquire, Chart Customization, Dashboard Interactivity, Size of the Data, Accessibility, data security, and data source.


Feature Power BI Excel
Data Size Can handle large amounts of data Limited to around 1 million rows per sheet
Custom Visualization Robust custom visuals gallery Limited customizability
Cloud-based Features Cloud-based with easy data sharing and collaboration Desktop-based requiring local file saving
Visualization More advanced and modern visualization options Limited visualization options
Availability Cloud-based service requiring subscription Part of Microsoft Office Suite
Learning Curve Takes more time to learn Relatively low learning curve for most users
Working Flexibility Designed for working with large data sets Highly flexible tool that allows users to work with various data types and formats
Cost Requires separate subscription fee Included in Microsoft Office Suite
Chart Customization More advanced visualizations and customization features Customizable chart options available
Dashboard Interactivity Interactive dashboards with filtering, sorting, and drill-down Interactive dashboards may require manual setup and maintenance
Size of the Data Can handle much larger data sets Limited to a few million rows
Accessibility Can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection Can only be accessed locally or through remote desktop connection
Data Security Provides more robust data security measures Provides basic security measures
Data Source Designed to work with a wide range of data sources Primarily designed to work with local data storage


Limitations or weaknesses of Excel 

  • Some limitations and weaknesses include the following:

Limited Data Capacity: Excel has limitations on the amount of data it can handle, which can lead to performance issues and slow down the processing of large datasets.

Limited Collaboration: Excel can be challenging, requiring users to share files and manually merge changes, leading to version control issues and errors.

Limited Data Security: Excel files can be vulnerable to data breaches and security risks, as they may contain sensitive information that is not adequately protected.

Limited Automation: While Excel allows users to automate some tasks, it does not have the same automation capabilities as more advanced data management tools.

Limited Data Visualization: While Excel allows users to create basic charts and graphs, it does not provide the same advanced data visualization capabilities as other tools, making it challenging to communicate complex data.

Limited Data Integration: Excel can be challenging to integrate with other data sources and systems, making it difficult to manage and analyze data from multiple sources.

Limitations or weaknesses of Power BI

  • Some limitations and weaknesses include the following:

Cost: Power BI can be expensive, particularly for organizations that require access to advanced features, such as data governance and security.

Data Capacity: Power BI has limitations on the amount of data that can be processed, which can lead to performance issues and slow down the processing of large datasets.

Data Modeling: Power BI requires users to create data models to analyze and visualize data, which can be challenging for users who do not have experience with data modelling.

Limited Customization: While Power BI provides a range of visualizations and customization options, some users may find that it does not provide the same customization capabilities as other tools.

Limited Integration: While Power BI can connect to a wide range of data sources, it may not be compatible with all data sources or systems, making it challenging to manage and analyze data from multiple sources.

Steep Learning Curve: Power BI has a steep learning curve, particularly for users new to data analysis and visualization.


This is all about power BI versus Excel. However, it’s difficult to say which tool is better as it largely depends on the user’s specific needs.

Power BI is the better choice if the user needs to work with large or complex datasets, handle data from various sources, and create sophisticated visualizations. Power BI’s cloud-based nature also enables easy data sharing and collaboration with others.

However, Excel may be the more practical option if the user is primarily focused on data management and analysis and doesn’t need to work with large datasets. Excel is a familiar and widely used tool with a relatively low learning curve for most users.

Ultimately, a combination of both tools may be the most beneficial as they complement each other’s strengths. For example, excel can be used for data preparation and initial analysis, while Power BI can be used for more complex analysis and visualization.

Overall, both Power BI versus Excel are valuable tools that can help users make data-driven decisions and should be considered based on the user’s specific needs.

Gyansetu Team

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