One of the advantages of Power BI “V2” over “V1” is the ability to refresh from data sources more frequently than once per day. Daily was the maximum in the first version of the service, and continues to be the maximum for the free version. If you have a Pro license however, refreshes can be performed more frequently. Unfortunately, it isn’t immediately obvious as to how this is done.
If we navigate to one of our datasets in Power BI, and select “Schedule Refresh” we’re presented with the user interface for setting this up (assuming that it’s a refreshable source). First we turn on scheduled refresh, and then next, we select our frequency.
Wait – there’s no “hourly” option in the dropdown. Didn’t I just say that it can be more frequent than daily? It can. You just need to be more explicit about it. The way to enable refreshes more granularly than daily is by explicitly adding the times for the refresh using the “Add another time” link.
Therefore, in order to have true hourly refresh, you will need to add 24 refresh times for the data source. That’s not all that appealing, is it? Unfortunately, 8 is all you’re allowed. I can only assume that this was by design in order to dissuade people from overtaxing the system when it isn’t required. You do get refreshes more frequently than daily, but hourly isn’t an option either.
Therefore, the minimum amount of data latency that can be achieved by using refresh with Power BI is, as of this writing 24/8 = 3 hours. Of course, this does not apply to direct connected sources.