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Query references other queries or steps, so it may not directly access a data source

Hi Everyone,

I am facing the the following issue and hoping someone can point me in the right direction. I get the following error message each time when initially hitting refresh in a couple reports:

Query references other queries or steps, so it may not directly access a data source. Please rebuild this data combination. 

I then open the query in query editor, close it without making any modifications, and it is automatically resolved when refreshing again.

Where should I look to avoid getting the error message in the first place?



This is related to privacy settings. For lots of details see here:


If there are no privacy concerns with the particular data you're working with then the easiest solution is to ignore privacy levels entirely. This can be found under the options and settings as described here:

For anyone that might still be listening in on this, or stumbles on it anew, it may not be the privacy setting.


I had the same issue a few weeks ago.  Each time like the original poster, I accessed Power Query, did nothing, closed and applied, and it resolved itself.


Yesterday, I looked up this forum post, changed the privacy setting and it resolved the issue.


A bug got in my brain though, and reflecting on the error message, it just made no sense.  Why not through a privacy error instead?


Taking this apart piece by piece, I discovered my using a separate query to retrieve only the latest report from a folder created the issue.


My original query gets all reports from a folder.


My second query gets only the latest report from that same folder.


When I created a second query, I copy/pasted the original query in there and modified the second query to only get the latest report from that folder.  It worked and I thought nothing of it until this error began popping.


Today, rebuilding that "second" query from ground zero appears to have resolved the issue.


Again, oddly enough, "Ignoring" in the privacy setting also resolved the issue.


What exactly is going on here? 

I figured out that I get this error when I have queries in Power Query Editor that have not yet completed refresh preview. Once I go through Power Query and refresh preview for all of my queries, so that any (loaded) queries do not have warning symbol or question mark, then the refresh will complete properly. 


It's super annoying. It's just since late 2022 that this started happening to me consistently. I have looked for a Power BI Desktop setting that I can toggle or change but have not found anything. I do not want to turn privacy settings off. 


It means I can't open a pbix file and just refresh right away. I have to wait for all of the queries to refresh, which can take hours.

Not applicable

How would this be avoided once published for a scheduled refresh?

Same. What do you mean "rebuilt"?

Have you solve problem? 

I agree, it's bizarre behaviour - I see it too.  The refresh gives the error "Query references other queries or steps, so it may not directly access a data source. Please rebuild this data combination."  You then go into Transform, a click through the queries sometimes have a ? or a warning ! against them (see pic) and allow the preview to refresh.  Then close and apply and try the refresh again and it works.  No code changes, just touching the tables or poking a refresh on them individually.  Could it be something to do with parallelization or order the refreshes happen in, can you enforce a run-order ?


Regular Visitor



I was struggling with the same thing and I saw some other post from Matt mentioning something about problems when merging tables with different sources... Is like power bi questioning if you really have access to both, so it needs to make sure of that so the query works...


So, I merged a query of a table called area with a query of a table called quotation. I merged both queries in the quotation query.


What I did to fix the problem was, i copied the reference from the advance mode in the area and pasted inside the source code of the quotation.


Copied this:


and pasted here:




it works like a charm!



Thank you very much for sharing!! I got this same strange error and adding the reference from advance editor to both queries resolved it.

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