Some of your users might analyze data that’s in CSV (comma-separated values), Microsoft Excel, or Microsoft Access files that live as standalone files in a folder. Often these files are treated like a database—for example, several users might be using Tableau to analyze data in an Excel file that’s on a shared network location, and someone (perhaps those same users) is also updating the file frequently.
(To be clear, accessing a standalone file on a shared network location is not on a par with using a dedicated, multi-user database like SQL Server, MySQL, or Oracle. CSV, Excel, and Access files don’t offer the type of performance, user-level security, or rich querying capabilities inherent in relational databases.)
The procedure we provide here shows you how to share Excel files using a shared folder on a Windows computer that’s running in an Active Directory environment. In this scenario, the Run As User account that you created and configured for Tableau Server is used as the security context to access the Excel file on a network location.
Set up the shared network location
Go to the Share files with someone page on the Microsoft Windows site and follow the procedure under “To share files and folders on a workgroup or a domain.” Those steps describe how to use the Windows File Sharing wizard to create a shared folder that is accessible inside your organization using a UNC (universal naming convention). The UNC name consists of a server name followed by a folder name, much like a web address, to access your shared folder. Here’s an example, where DATATEAM is the name of the computer and shared is the name of the shared location on that computer:
The location referred to by shared can actually be many levels deep in the folder hierarchy, even though that’s not reflected directly in the UNC name.
When you run the Windows File Sharing wizard, you enter the user account or accounts for people who want to share the content. For this procedure, enter the Run As User account, and then set the Permission Level to Read. This means that any process that runs as the Run As User can read the shared location. In our case, of course, that process is Tableau Server.
The last page of the File Sharing wizard displays the UNC path. Make a note of this path and send it to your users so they know where to connect to the shared Excel files.