"The following connection failed to refresh" error in an Excel 2013 workbook on a WAC server

Note

Office 365 ProPlus is being renamed to Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. For more information about this change, read this blog post.

Symptoms

Consider the following scenario:

  • You create a¬†pivot table that references external data in a workbook in Microsoft Excel 2013.
  • You upload the workbook to a Web Application Companions (WAC) server.
  • You update the data connection or change the PivotTable fields.

In this scenario, you receive the following error message:

A data connection is set to always use connection file and {0:ExcelWebApp} does not support external connection files. The following connection failed to refresh:

Data connection

Cause

This issue occurs because the WAC server does not support the Office Data Connection (ODC) file that stores the data connection information.

Workaround

To work around this issue, follow these steps:

  1. Open the workbook in an Excel client application.
  2. Select the data connection that is listed in the error message, and then click Properties under the Data tab.
  3. Clear the Always use connection file check box under the Definition tab.
  4. Republish the workbook to the WAC server.