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Archiving old Google Analytics data: what should we save? (1)

If you were using Google Analytics prior to a couple of years ago, you’ll have data in the ‘old’ (or ‘Universal’) analytics, which the company has now stopped offering. You’ll also have had an email from them saying:

“On 1 July 2024, Google Analytics 4 properties will have fully replaced Universal Analytics properties, as previously announced. From that date, Google will begin turning off all Universal Analytics services and Universal Analytics APIs, which means Universal Analytics properties will be inaccessible through the Google Analytics front end and APIs. To maintain access to data from your Universal Analytics property, you should download or export your data now.”

So it looks as if the company will be turning off the old interface, and access to the data (which stopped recording last year anyway). If we want to refer back to older website visitor data, and haven’t downloaded what we need already, it’s time to sort out and get what we need.

Here’s what I’m doing.

First of all, note that Google Universal Analytics historical data is not provided back to the dawn of time. In my accounts, I seem to be able to reliably get it from about September 2016. Anything before then has gone forever, and trying to get it provides empty reports for the whole period requested. In addition, data seems to run until August 2023, so the maximum period we can ask for is between those two dates.

Google Universal Analytics historical data

I can’t guarantee everyone will get the same, so play around with the dates and see if the full results get provided, or if the reports break down.

Then I’m going to work out what data I want, and whether it’s broken down into annual or monthly figures. If it’s annual, I’ll only be downloading full-year data (i.e 2017 to 2022); if it’s monthly, I’ll be requesting September 2016 to August 2023.

Tomorrow I’ll look at what data we might call off: this could be visitors numbers, sources, individual pages viewed, etc. but I’ll wait until then, so that in the meantime, you can have a think about what you want. What have you been asked to report on in the past? What reports have been useful in planning and analysis? Were they monthly or annual? It’s time to make a list.