Metabase vs Excel: In-Depth Comparison

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    Comparing Metabase and Excel is essential for businesses seeking the right tool for data analysis and reporting. While Metabase is a specialized business intelligence tool designed for data visualization, Excel is a versatile spreadsheet application that also offers data management capabilities.

    Each platform has its strengths; Metabase excels in user-friendly dashboards and interactive reports, while Excel provides deep functionality for data manipulation and complex calculations.

    This article will delve into the distinct features of Metabase and Excel and how they serve different business intelligence needs. Additionally, we'll explore how Sourcetable offers a modern alternative with a spreadsheet-like interface that seamlessly syncs with your data for business intelligence tasks.


    What is Metabase?

    Metabase is an analytics tool designed to provide a user-friendly experience in data analysis. It is recognized for its accessibility, allowing a diverse range of users to engage with the platform.

    • Features

    • Connection to over 20 data sources without the need for extracts
    • Provision of a free open-source tier, as well as a pay-as-you-go Pro plan and a hosted plan
    • Inclusion of single sign-on, permissions, auditing, and embedded analytics
    • Compliance with GDPR standards
    • Availability of an Enterprise plan for large-scale requirements
    • Adoption and Deployment

      Trusted by over 50,000 companies, Metabase supports widespread adoption with options like docker deployment.


    What is Excel?

    Excel is a spreadsheet program developed by Microsoft. It forms a part of the Microsoft Office product group and is designed to format, organize, and calculate data. Excel is widely compatible with other Office suite applications, enhancing its utility in various tasks.

    • Compatibility and Availability

      Available across multiple operating systems including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, Excel ensures accessibility for users on different devices. Its compatibility with these platforms makes it a versatile tool for a wide range of tasks.

    • Usage in Business and Management

      Excel is extensively used in business analysis, human resource management, and operations management. It serves a key role in performance reporting and is instrumental in collecting and verifying business data. The program also facilitates data entry and storage.

    • Functionalities for Analysis and Reporting

      With functionalities that support data analysis and performance reporting, Excel is capable of handling strategic analysis, accounting, and budgeting. Its versatility extends to administrative and managerial management, account management, project management, and office administration.


    Metabase Key Features

    Scalability and Self-service Analytics

    Metabase provides features on paid plans that support scaling and self-service analytics for organizations, facilitating internal or embedded analytics delivery.

    Authentication Options

  • SAML and JWT authentication methods are available on paid plans.
  • Google Sign-In can be used for multi-domain authentication.
  • Advanced Permissions

  • Data sandboxing enables row and column-level permissions.
  • Additional permissions include block, SQL snippet folder, application, download, connection impersonation, database management, and table metadata management permissions.
  • Group managers are designated for managing people and permissions within groups.
  • Embedding and Customization

  • Interactive embedding allows for the integration of Metabase within applications.
  • Options to customize Metabase's appearance and user experience.
  • Dashboard Subscriptions and Alerts

  • Customization of dashboard subscriptions and alerts.
  • Filter values can be tailored for each dashboard subscription.
  • Domains can be whitelisted for notifications.
  • System can suggest recipients for dashboard subscriptions and alerts.
  • Content Moderation and Caching

  • Content moderation tools are provided.
  • Advanced caching controls, including controls for individual questions, are available.
  • Data Export

    Exporting Metabase application data for use in new instances is possible.


    Excel Function Overview

    Function Categories and Access

    Excel provides an extensive array of functions, totaling 10,254, which are organized into seven categories. Users can access these functions by browsing through categories or using the Ctrl+F shortcut to search for functions by entering the initial letters or related keywords.

    Specific Financial Functions

    Excel offers specialized financial functions such as ACCRINT and ACCRINTM for calculating accrued interest, and AMORDEGRC and AMORLINC for computing depreciation. Functions like COUPDAYBS and COUPDAYS calculate coupon period days, whereas DURATION and MDURATION determine the duration of securities. Various other functions exist for financial analysis, including but not limited to IRR, MIRR, NPV, and FV.

    Statistical and Forecasting Functions

    Statistical functions in Excel assist in performing a variety of data analyses. The FORECAST.ETS suite of functions, for instance, is designed for time series forecasting, using algorithms like AAA version of Exponential Smoothing and providing additional statistical analysis tools such as FORECAST.ETS.STAT.

    Web and Compatibility Functions

    Although Excel hosts a series of web functions, these are not available in the web version of Excel. Functions may yield different results across platforms. Functions like ASC and BAHTTEXT cater to specific text formatting needs, while CONCAT and EXACT are used for text manipulation.

    Text Manipulation Functions

    Excel's text functions include CHAR and CLEAN for character encoding and cleaning text, respectively. The CODE function retrieves numeric codes for characters, and CONCATENATE merges text from different sources. Other functions such as DOLLAR and FIXED format numbers as text.


    Metabase Pro for Business Intelligence

    Enhanced Security and Permissions

    Metabase Pro offers row-level and column-level permissions, ensuring fine-grained access control for sensitive data. Its advanced permissions system enhances data governance.

    Customizable Analytics Experience

    The platform enables customized analytics with embedded analytics, white-labeling, and appearance customization, providing a seamless BI experience.

    Dedicated Support

    With a world-class success team, Metabase Pro provides comprehensive technical support, aiding in efficient onboarding and offboarding processes.

    Operational Efficiency

    Metabase Pro's usage analytics, subscriptions, alerts, and content caching features streamline reporting workflows and improve resource management.

    Streamlined Environment Management

    Features like YAML exports, serialization, and templating from configuration files facilitate environment syncing and setup, optimizing BI operations.

    Role-based Data Access

    Role-based permissions with connection impersonation allow for tailored database access, aligning with organizational roles and data analytics needs.


    Disadvantages of Using Metabase for Business Intelligence

    Performance Issues

    Metabase experiences significant slowdowns when handling large data loads or when multiple team members are using the platform simultaneously. Reports and dashboards suffer from long loading times and delayed rendering of data, leading to inefficiencies in data analysis.

    Complex Query Limitations

    Linking data for complex queries in Metabase is challenging, which can hinder the depth of analytics. This limitation can be a critical drawback for businesses requiring advanced data analysis.

    Data Governance and Integration

    Metabase offers limited data governance capabilities, which can pose a risk for businesses with stringent data policies. Additionally, the platform struggles with joining different databases, making it less suitable for organizations that operate with diverse data sources.

    Customization and Versioning Constraints

    Options for customizing charts in Metabase are limited, restricting the ability to tailor visualizations to specific business needs. The absence of code versioning further complicates the management of changes within the platform.

    Software Maintenance and Compatibility

    Updating Metabase can be a difficult process, potentially leading to prolonged downtime. Moreover, Metabase does not support Azure SSO on its free edition, which may limit its use for businesses reliant on Azure services.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Metabase

    How can I use the trend widget in Metabase?

    You can use the trend widget in Metabase to filter data by date, allowing you to identify patterns over time.

    I'm getting a 550 5.7.60 SMTP error in Metabase, what does this mean?

    A 550 5.7.60 SMTP error typically indicates an issue with the SMTP setup in Metabase, such as authentication problems.

    Does Metabase provide a way to view metadata on SQL databases?

    Yes, Metabase has a metadata SQL feature that enables you to view metadata.

    Can Metabase be used to display comments on Postgres tables?

    Yes, Metabase can be used to display comments on Postgres tables.

    Is it possible to edit data in Snowflake or Athena using Metabase?

    No, Metabase does not allow editing of data in Snowflake and Athena.

    Use Cases for Metabase

    • Metabase

      Bringing company-wide transparency to customer care

    • Metabase

      Helping teams get insights from their data

    • Metabase

      Transforming data analysis

    • Metabase

      Embedding analytics in SaaS platforms

    • Metabase

      Creating efficient business reporting systems


    Advantages of Using Excel for Business Intelligence

    Data Management and Organization

    Excel excels in managing and organizing data, which is fundamental for business intelligence. Its capabilities allow users to sort, filter, and group data efficiently, making it easier to process large datasets.

    Data Analysis and Decision Making

    Excel supports comprehensive data analysis, enabling businesses to derive insights and make informed decisions. It includes tools for statistical analysis, trend identification, and scenario creation.

    Calculation and Automation

    Performing complex calculations is straightforward with Excel, which is crucial for predictive analytics and financial modeling. Excel's automation features reduce manual effort and minimize errors in repetitive tasks.

    Visualization and Reporting

    Excel's charting and graphing tools aid in visualizing data, which enhances the comprehension of business metrics. Excel's features support the creation of interactive reports that are pivotal for business intelligence.

    Collaboration and Data Sharing

    Excel facilitates collaboration and data sharing, allowing multiple users to contribute and access BI reports. This is essential for maintaining up-to-date and accurate business intelligence insights.


    Disadvantages of Using Excel for Business Intelligence

    Limited Collaboration and Scalability

    Excel's limited collaboration capabilities hinder the ability to work on data analytics in real-time with multiple team members. Its limited scalability also poses challenges in accommodating business growth and larger datasets.

    Data Handling and Performance

    Excel is not optimal for handling large datasets, which can lead to performance issues when performing complex data analytics required for business intelligence.

    Lack of Advanced Features

    Without integrated project management and automation features, Excel falls short in effectively managing and streamlining BI processes. Additionally, Excel's limited visual project tracking tools are not suitable for advanced data analytics.

    Data Security and Integration Concerns

    Excel's poor security for sensitive data makes it a risky choice for storing and analyzing confidential information. Its limited integration with other tools also presents challenges in creating a seamless BI workflow.

    Vulnerability to Human Error

    The manual nature of Excel makes it highly susceptible to human error, which can compromise the accuracy of business intelligence reports and analytics.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Excel

    Does Excel offer any assistance to help learn how to use formulas and other features?

    Yes, Excel offers live coaching to help you learn formulas, tips and more.

    Are there any tools in Excel to help with starting a new project quickly?

    Excel has templates that you can use to streamline your work.

    Can I analyze my data in Excel without knowing how to write formulas?

    Excel has a feature that allows you to ask questions about your data without writing formulas.

    Is Excel 2013 still supported by Microsoft?

    Support for Excel 2013 has ended.

    What should I do now that Excel 2013 support has ended?

    You should upgrade to Microsoft 365.

    Use Cases for Excel

    • Excel

      Analyzing sales data for trends

    • Excel

      Forecasting future revenue

    • Excel

      Tracking inventory and supply chain efficiency

    • Excel

      Visualizing market research data

    • Excel

      Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs)


    Why Sourcetable is a Superior Business Intelligence Tool

    • Simplified Reporting and Data Analytics

      Sourcetable offers a streamlined approach to reporting and data analytics. By integrating data from multiple services into a familiar spreadsheet interface, it eliminates the need for complex BI tools and reduces the learning curve associated with them.

    • Unified Data Synchronization

      Unlike Metabase, which requires connections to multiple data sources, Sourcetable syncs data across all services. This centralization simplifies data management and enhances the accessibility of business insights.

    • Intuitive Spreadsheet-Like Interface

      Sourcetable's interface is akin to Excel, making it approachable for users familiar with spreadsheet software, yet it provides advanced BI capabilities without the need for extensive training or technical know-how.

    • Accessibility and Security

      By offering a solution that is accessible to all users while ensuring security, Sourcetable serves as a practical alternative to Metabase's tiered access and Excel's local file-based system.

    • Efficiency in Embedding and Sharing

      Sourcetable facilitates the embedding and sharing of reports with ease, contrasting with Metabase's embedding features that may require more technical proficiency.


    Comparing Metabase and Excel

    Functionality for Data Analysis

    Both Metabase and Excel provide tools for data analysis. They allow users to explore and interpret datasets through various functions and features.

    Data Visualization

    Metabase and Excel offer data visualization capabilities. Users can create dashboards and reports in Metabase, similar to how Excel uses charts and pivot tables to represent data graphically.


    Metabase and Excel are designed to be accessible tools for a range of users, from non-technical to technical, simplifying the process of data analysis and reporting.

    Self-Service Analytics

    Both platforms empower users to perform self-service analytics. Metabase's user-friendly interface and Excel's familiar spreadsheet layout enable users to conduct their own data exploration.

    Connection to Data Sources

    Metabase and Excel can connect to multiple data sources, although Metabase explicitly supports over 20 different sources, while Excel has a broad range of compatible data connectors.

    Business Intelligence

    As business intelligence tools, both Metabase and Excel support the creation of actionable insights from data, catering to business analytics needs.


    Metabase vs. Excel

    User Interface and Accessibility

    Metabase provides a user-friendly UX designed for non-technical users, featuring a visual query builder.Excel requires more manual setup for data analysis and familiarity with spreadsheet manipulation and functions.

  • Metabase provides a user-friendly UX designed for non-technical users, featuring a visual query builder.
  • Excel requires more manual setup for data analysis and familiarity with spreadsheet manipulation and functions.
  • Data Connectivity

    Metabase can connect to over 20 different data sources, including production databases and data warehouses.Excel has limited data connectivity options and often requires manual data imports.

  • Metabase can connect to over 20 different data sources, including production databases and data warehouses.
  • Excel has limited data connectivity options and often requires manual data imports.
  • Deployment and Scalability

    Metabase offers cloud deployment and an open-source option, allowing for scalability and enterprise compliance.Excel is primarily a desktop application with limitations in scalability and real-time data analysis.

  • Metabase offers cloud deployment and an open-source option, allowing for scalability and enterprise compliance.
  • Excel is primarily a desktop application with limitations in scalability and real-time data analysis.
  • Collaboration and Sharing

    Metabase allows for easy creation and sharing of dashboards and reports across an organization.Excel requires sharing of files, which can lead to version control issues and less dynamic interaction with data.

  • Metabase allows for easy creation and sharing of dashboards and reports across an organization.
  • Excel requires sharing of files, which can lead to version control issues and less dynamic interaction with data.
  • Business Intelligence Features

    Metabase is tailored for analytics with features like embedded analytics, dashboards, and self-service exploration.Excel is a general-purpose tool that requires more effort to perform complex business intelligence tasks.

  • Metabase is tailored for analytics with features like embedded analytics, dashboards, and self-service exploration.
  • Excel is a general-purpose tool that requires more effort to perform complex business intelligence tasks.
  • Compliance and Security

    Metabase is compliant with SOC 2 Type II and GDPR, offering enterprise-grade security features.Excel lacks built-in compliance standards and relies on broader organizational IT policies for security.

  • Metabase is compliant with SOC 2 Type II and GDPR, offering enterprise-grade security features.
  • Excel lacks built-in compliance standards and relies on broader organizational IT policies for security.
  • Cost and Plans

    Metabase has a free open-source tier, a pay-as-you-go Pro plan, and an Enterprise plan for advanced needs.Excel requires a Microsoft Office license, with costs varying based on the licensing plan.

  • Metabase has a free open-source tier, a pay-as-you-go Pro plan, and an Enterprise plan for advanced needs.
  • Excel requires a Microsoft Office license, with costs varying based on the licensing plan.
  • sourcetable

    Metabase vs Excel vs Sourcetable


    Metabase is a business intelligence and self-service analytics tool designed to be accessible to all users, with a user-friendly interface and a variety of plans including a free open-source tier. Excel, on the other hand, is a spreadsheet application with robust data manipulation and visualization tools, widely used for various business tasks. Sourcetable merges spreadsheet simplicity with database capabilities, aiming to streamline data collation and reporting processes.

    Accessibility and User Experience

    Metabase is praised for its ease of use and quick setup, providing non-technical users the ability to create dashboards and analytics. It's designed for a broad range of users within a company. Excel is known for its widespread use in business for data analysis, but requires more technical know-how to perform complex analytics. Sourcetable is designed to offer a blend of spreadsheet usability with database functions, catering to users who are familiar with spreadsheet interfaces but need more robust data management.

    Deployment and Integration

    Metabase can be deployed on Metabase Cloud or self-hosted, connects to over 20 data sources, and offers features like single sign-on and embedding. Excel is typically part of the Microsoft Office suite and lacks native capabilities for extensive database connections or embedding. Sourcetable focuses on consolidating different data sources into one view without the need for complex integrations or deployments.

    Analytics and Reporting

    Metabase facilitates data exploration, allows creation of interactive dashboards, and supports SQL for complex queries. Excel is powerful for individual data analysis and offers extensive charting and pivot table capabilities but is limited in real-time data interaction and dashboard sharing. Sourcetable aims to simplify reporting and analysis, reducing the need for complex formulae and pivot tables often used in Excel.

    Security and Compliance

    Metabase provides enterprise-grade security features, complies with SOC 2 Type II, GDPR, and offers various plans catering to different business needs. Excel's security is largely dependent on the overall Microsoft Office security features and may not offer the same level of compliance certifications. Sourcetable's security features are not specified in the provided facts.


    Metabase scales well with enterprise needs and is used by over 50,000 companies, offering features like caching and embedding, suitable for growth and customer-facing analytics. Excel, while widely used, may not scale as effectively for enterprise-level business intelligence needs. Sourcetable, with its focus on simplifying data handling, may offer scalability for businesses that operate heavily with spreadsheets.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Sourcetable

    What is Sourcetable and who typically uses it?

    Sourcetable is a spreadsheet application that is typically used by growth teams and business operations teams. It allows users to centralize, analyze, and model data that updates over time without the need for coding.

    How does Sourcetable integrate with other applications?

    Sourcetable syncs data from over 100 applications and most databases, allowing users to access and query data from most 3rd party applications.

    How often does Sourcetable update data integrations?

    Data integrations update every 15 minutes on the regular plan and every 5 minutes on the pro plan.

    How much does Sourcetable cost?

    Sourcetable costs $50 per month on the starter plan and $250 per month on the pro plan. Additional seats cost $20 per month per user.

    Is there a trial period for Sourcetable?

    All plans come with a 14-day free trial period.


    Metabase Pricing

    • Starter Plan

      The Starter plan is priced at $85 per month, including 5 users. Each additional user costs $5 per month. Annually, the plan is billed at $918, with a per-user cost of $54.

    • Pro Plan

      Metabase's Pro plan is offered at $500 per month, covering 10 users. Additional users are billed at $10 per month. The annual cost is $5400, with an individual user cost of $108 per year.

    • Enterprise Plan

      The Enterprise plan has custom pricing, starting at $15,000 per year for each user. This plan's cost varies based on user requirements.

    • Open Source Plan

      The Open Source plan is available at no cost.

    • Annual Billing Discount

      A 10% discount applies to annual billing across all Metabase plans.


    Excel Cost Overview

    Excel is a versatile spreadsheet application that supports various operating systems including Windows 11, Windows 10, and macOS. Its compatibility ensures a broad user base can access and utilize the software for diverse data management tasks.


    User Reviews of Metabase

    • Overall Impressions

      Metabase receives an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5, indicating high user satisfaction. Reviewers frequently cite its ease of use, especially for non-technical users, and appreciate the value for money it provides. Despite being well-regarded, some note that Metabase is not the most advanced analytics tool available.

    • Usability

      Users give Metabase a 5.0 rating for ease of use, reflecting its user-friendly interface and straightforward setup and deployment. It is praised for being an effective tool for businesses to visualize data and track KPIs.

    • Functionality

      Metabase's ability to build dashboards, analyze data, and integrate with systems like SQL and Google Analytics is highly regarded. It is also recognized for excelling in data security and integrity. However, it has limitations such as not allowing joins between different databases and experiencing performance issues under larger loads.

    • Performance

      There are reports of Metabase being slow when multiple users access it simultaneously and getting buggy with larger datasets. It also has issues with report loading and downloads for some users. Nonetheless, it is considered good for self-service analytics and sending alerts from query results.

    • Customer Service

      Metabase has received a perfect score from reviewers for customer service, which suggests a positive experience with the support team.

    • Open Source Considerations

      Being an open-source tool, Metabase is popular among those looking for a self-hosted business intelligence solution. However, some users find contributing to its development challenging due to it being written in CoffeeScript and requiring non-trivial configuration to run in open source mode.

    • Alternatives

      While Metabase is a market leader in analytics, Tableau and Microsoft Power BI are mentioned as its top alternatives for users seeking different features or capabilities.


    User Reviews of Microsoft Excel

    Microsoft Excel has garnered a high overall rating of 4.8 out of 5 from a substantial user base. This rating reflects the satisfaction of 18.9K reviewers, underlining the software's wide acceptance and approval among its users.

    • Value for Money

      Users rate Excel 4.8 out of 5 for value for money, indicating they find the software to be a cost-effective solution for their needs.

    • Ease of Use

      With a 4.8 out of 5 rating for ease of use, Excel is considered user-friendly, aligning with the general perception that the software is easy to use.

    • Features

      Excel's features are highly regarded, as seen in the 4.8 out of 5 rating in this category. This suggests that the functionalities offered by Excel meet user requirements effectively.

    • Customer Support

      Excel's customer support is rated 4.8 out of 5, which shows users are satisfied with the assistance provided.

    • Recommendation Likelihood

      The likelihood of users recommending Excel is rated at 9.13 out of 10, indicating a high probability of user referrals.

    • Usage and Limitations

    • Excel is praised for its ability to track progress efficiently.
    • It is recognized as a powerful tool for analyzing data.
    • Users find Excel helpful in staying organized.
    • The software is considered suitable for educational purposes, being beneficial for kids in school.
    • However, Excel has limitations in integration with other information systems.
    • It is noted that Excel is insensitive to human errors, which can be a point of concern for users.
    • The reviews and ratings come from user feedback on Excel's performance and usability. This data is instrumental for potential users to gauge the software's effectiveness in meeting their needs.


    In summary, Metabase is a specialized BI tool that offers data visualization and exploration capabilities, while Excel is a versatile spreadsheet application with extensive data manipulation features.

    For businesses seeking an intuitive BI solution, Sourcetable may be a suitable alternative, offering real-time data synchronization across various services within a spreadsheet format.

    Simplify Your BI Tooling

    Sourcetable is the AI spreadsheet that lets you analyze your data in one place. Get unlimited access free for 14 days.