Looker Studio encountered a system error check-list

If you've been working with Google Looker Studio for long enough, you already know when facing the "encountered a system error" message, the error code provided is quite useless (least to say).

Yes, it's a nice hex code and you think, thanks God, by searching it on Google (remember, both tools belong to the same company...), I should find resources that will explain me what's wrong and how to fix.

Well, no. But good news, here I am!

In this article, I've tried to list all types of system error I've been facing over my 5+ year experience with Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio), and the associated solution. Trust me, I've seen quite a lot, and managed to solve most of them. I even gave feedback to Google's teams about issues they weren't aware of (but were thanksful that I spotted them, for free, no bounty reward here!).

Please bookmark this page as I'll keep on updating it over time as I remind about previous issues or face new ones (Looker Studio is full of surprises!).

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Looker Studio has encountered a system error

How to use this list

Sometimes, you're facing an error but instinctively know where it could come from. It might be the third-party connector that doesn't look that sound, or the formula you've just found on the internet and that you just copy paste without overthinking it. In this case, please go directly to the corresponding section and try your luck.

If you're totally blind and have no clue where the system error can come from, please scan this list of errors from top to bottom, as I've ordered it from more frequent to less frequent.

And now, with no more delay, what you've been looking for. The world-famous...

Looker Studio ultimate encountered a system error check-list

Check if that's a global issue

Open a new tab in your browser and go the Looker Studio community page. If you see a Featured or Trending post relative to Looker Studio Down that's currently open with a lot of comments, you'll know you're not the only one impacted...

Time series system errors

Problem: I'm going to be very bold on this topic. Don't use time series. They give so much headache to so many people that they should be prohibited. Maybe that the issue does not lie in time series themselves but in the way the dates are sent by connectors (wrong formatting?), so please apologize little dataviz, still, it's useless

Solution: Replace your time serie data visualization with a line chart, and put dates as dimension. You can play with drill downs, breakdown dimensions and/or formatting to achieve the same result (even better to be honest). And for period comparison? Check this article on same day last year comparison, I'm sure you can dig it and adapt to your needs

Data source system errors

Problem: Your data source is not well configured

Solution: Create a new table, and re-add one by one all fields (no formula no filter at this stage). Does adding one in particular makes your dataviz break? If so, you've got a suspect. Now, what's next?

  • Are you using a date as a date field that is not in the right format? Ie, in reality it's not understood as data by Looker Studio?
  • Try to reconnect your data source, do you see that configuration/fields have changed?
  • Are you mixing fields that can't be mixed (happens a lot with third-party connectors), like an order level dimension with an item level metric?
  • Are you using a custom query? Check that the underlying data source hasn't changed
  • Are you using fields that don't exist in the data source (can happen when you simply copy paste a dataviz and change its data source)
  • Are you using a parameter? Is it well configured?

Sorting system errors

Problem: Your data visualization is all well set with formula fields, but still an error occurs

Solution: Have you checked you're sorting with fields that are actually in either dimensions or metrics? Are you using drill downs and sorting with the not default dimension?

Formula system errors

Problem: A formula field is invalid and you don't know why

Solution: Remove all others fields & filters. Is the formula still working?

  • If so, then you've got an undesired interaction. Re-introduce fields one by one and try to check if you can mix them
  • If not, then edit it as you're doing something wrong. Are the fields you're using in Green, ie you're using the right fields? Can you mix dimensions and metrics in a formula?
  • Check Google's documentation to confirm that your functions are right
  • Are you using Blended data and your formula is based on fields from different tables? This too can lead to errors because of NULL values, try to build your formula differently

Filters system errors

Problem: one filter is invalid and you don't understand why

Solution: Usually, you made a dataviz copy paste, changed the data source, but forgot to remove a filter. Remove it, as filters don't (always) work across data sources. Or the filter is just improperly set, check its condition one by one

Blended data system errors

Problem: Your blended data is not well configured

Solution: Open the blended data source. Check the following:

  • Fields and filters: are they correctly set-up? Do you have a custom date range / filter that is making your blend break? Do you use an incorrect formula?
  • Configure join: are you joining fields that are the same format? Do you see the same icon left of them (classic example: blending on 123 Month ie a number for Looker Studio with calendar icon Month ie a date)

And that's it for today

I hope I made your day. Don't forget to bookmark this page and come back to it in the future as I'll keep on adding "encountered a system error" solutions. No reason to be scared anymore :)


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