While it’s technically possible to use Excel as a data source for PowerApps, it’s not typically recommended due to several reasons outlined below.
Wondering what is the best choice? Check out our article on the best data sources for PowerApps.
- Excel is a popular data source for PowerApps among beginners because most people are familiar with Excel and it is quick and easy to get started.
- Excel is not suitable for production grade and business critical applications because of scalability, concurrency and reliability issues.
- Excel can be used as a data source for prototyping PowerApps.
Why Excel Is Not a Good Data Source for PowerApps
Excel is not designed for large-scale data management. As the amount of data increases, Excel’s performance may degrade, leading to slower app response times.
Excel does not handle concurrent access well. If you have multiple users trying to update information at the same time, it can lead to data loss or inconsistency.
Excel does not have the same robust data validation and integrity checks that you would find in a relational database system. This can lead to data corruption, especially when you have multiple users interacting with the data.
Excel files are not as secure as database systems. They are easier to hack, and there’s a higher risk of data leakage.
Excel is not as reliable for long-term, continual data storage as a database system would be. Data can be accidentally or purposefully changed, moved, or deleted.
Excel does not have built-in version control, which can be problematic if you need to track changes or revert to a previous version of your data.
When Should You Use Excel as a Data Source for PowerApps?
Although it’s not generally recommended to use Excel as a data source for PowerApps due to the reasons mentioned previously, there are certain scenarios where using Excel might make sense:
Prototyping and Testing
Excel is quite handy if you want to create a prototype or a proof of concept application with PowerApps quickly. It can serve as a quick and easy way to feed data into your app during the development phase.
Small Scale Applications
If the application you’re building is intended for a small number of users and doesn’t require handling large amounts of data, Excel could be a reasonable choice.
If the data in your app is not critical (i.e., losing or corrupting it wouldn’t cause significant harm), using Excel could be acceptable.
Simple Data Structure
Excel can be suitable if your data structure is quite simple and doesn’t require the relational integrity offered by a database system.
Familiarity and Ease of Use
Excel is a widely-used tool that many people are familiar with. It might be the most straightforward option for someone without a background in databases to create a data source for a PowerApp.
Keep in mind that while Excel can be used in these cases, it still comes with the caveats of potential data integrity issues, lack of scalability, and limited concurrent user handling. It’s always worth considering a more robust data source for your PowerApps as they scale and become more critical to your operations.
The Bottom Line
Instead of using Excel, it’s generally recommended to use a proper database system as a data source for PowerApps. Options include SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, SharePoint, or Common Data Service, among others, which are designed to handle larger amounts of data, provide better security and reliability, and support concurrent users.