When will Universal Analytics data be deleted?

May 14, 2024

Find out when Google will remove your website’s old UA data

For years, website owners have relied on Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) to track user behaviour, measure site performance, and gain valuable insights to help drive their digital strategies. With the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) which replaced Universal Analytics as the new primary web analytics platform in 2023, the clock is now ticking for any associated UA data. 

So when will Google pull the plug and delete all that precious historical website data? In this article, we’ll reveal the exact deadline date, discuss the reasons behind Google’s decision to replace it with GA4, and explain how you can save your UA data before it disappears forever. Read on to find out more… 

Why has Google Analytics 4 replaced Universal Analytics?

After several months of hair-tearing initial hiccups, Google launched its much-talked-about shiny new ‘GA4’ analytics platform to replace its previous Universal Analytics (UA) tool. While the initial announcement caused concern for website owners, there was in fact method behind the madness of such a big change to the way in which we track a site’s performance. Some of the main benefits include:  

Cross-platform tracking

GA4 is designed to track user journeys across websites and apps, providing a much more unified view of customer behaviour and engagement.

Event-based data model

GA4 uses an event-based data model, which is more flexible and can capture a wider range of user interactions compared to the session-based model originally used in Universal Analytics.

Privacy-focused features

GA4 includes privacy-centric features, such as cookieless measurement and data retention controls, to help businesses comply with evolving privacy regulations like the dreaded GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Machine learning insights

GA4 incorporates machine learning technology to provide more advanced insights, such as predictive metrics and anomaly detection, which can help businesses make data-driven decisions.

Future-proofing

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, GA4 is designed to adapt to new technologies and changes in user behaviour, ensuring that businesses can rely on it for their long-term analytics needs.

When will Universal Analytics website data be deleted?

Since Universal Analytics (UA) data was migrated to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the countdown to data deletion has been on. Through various announcements, Google has stated that all Universal Analytics properties will be deleted on 1st July 2024. To remind users, a warning message is displayed every time someone logs in to their GA4 account stating the following information:

“If you haven’t completed migration, finish setting up your Google Analytics 4 property before your connected Universal Analytics property is permanently deleted on Jul 1, 2024. To maintain access to data from this property, you should download your data now.” 

Is there a way of saving Universal Analytics data?

So the big question we’re getting asked is if there is a way of saving website data from Universal Analytics (UA). The short answer is, yes, there are several options when it comes to saving your UA data before it’s automatically deleted by Google on 1st July 2024. Here are your main options:

Manually export the data

Within the Universal Analytics interface, you can manually export data from various reports into formats like Google Sheets, a CSV file, or PDF. This is the quickest and easiest way to access any old data but it is only available as a static report and can prove time-consuming to do. 

Use the Google Analytics Reporting API

You can use Google’s Reporting API (version 4) to extract your data via this programme and store it in a database or spreadsheet of your choice. Once you’ve extracted the data, you will need to safely save it on your own laptop or computer for future use.

Export data to BigQuery

If you have a Google Cloud Platform account, you can link your Universal Analytics property to BigQuery (a fully managed data warehouse) and export your data for long-term storage and future analysis.

Utilise third-party tools

Some third-party tools and services specialise in backing up and storing Google Analytics 4 data. These tools can automate the process of exporting and storing your data securely but can prove costly. 

How long does Google Analytics 4 retain data for?

Unlike we’re used to previously with Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) doesn’t retain a website’s data indefinitely. Instead, their data retention policy is based on differing settings which means standard (free) user-level data can be set for a retention period of either 2 months or 14 months.

If you have the Google Analytics 360 subscription (this is the paid-for version), you can retain event data for either 26 months, 38 months, or 50 months if necessary. However, it’s worth noting that aggregated reports in GA4 – such as the Acquisition or Engagement reports – are not subject to the data retention settings. These reports will retain data indefinitely unless you choose to manually delete the property.

All data retention settings apply to the date when the events were collected, not the date when they were processed. This means that if you change your retention settings, it will only affect new data collected after the change and not any associated historical data.

What happens if you don’t migrate to Google Analytics 4?

Although not updating your existing Universal Analytics (UA) account to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can in fact have serious consequences where your website data is concerned. 

Once Google deletes all its UA properties on 1st July 2024, all historical data associated with those properties will be permanently removed. If you haven’t already migrated to GA4, the platform will automatically set up a property for you. However, remember that UA has already stopped tracking, so any data prior to the migration won’t be present in your current GA4 account. 

Without an active analytics platform, you won’t be able to track your website’s performance, user behaviour, or key metrics. This lack of data can hinder your ability to make informed decisions about your website, marketing strategies, or all-important user experience optimisations. The new GA4 platform offers several new features and benefits, such as cross-platform tracking, event-based data modelling, and machine learning insights.

Don’t lose your old Universal Analytics data 

If you’re a 67 Degrees customer, rest assured that we’ve spent time ensuring your existing Universal Analytics (UA) account has been fully migrated to the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) platform. Of course, we can access and export any of your old UA data before the 1st July 2024 deadline, so please speak to us about how we can make this possible before it completely disappears. 

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