R.I.P. Universal Analytics


P3 Staff | Jun 24, 2024

A red graphic with the Propaganda3 asterisk left, and the words "R.I.P. UA" on the right.

Subject: Universal Analytics 

Time of death: 12:00 AM, July 1st, 2024.

Yes, after years of Google gradually transitioning users from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the point of no return has arrived. Come July 1, 2024, all Universal Analytics data will be permanently deleted, and scattered to the wind.

For many webmasters and marketing teams, this has been nearly 4 years in the making, with numerous anxiety-inducing pop-ups and warning prompts reminding them of the impending change since Google first introduced GA4 in the fall of 2020.

A photo depicting a popular scene from the movie, "The Big Lebowski."
“Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, Google's decision, man."

A Slow Goodbye to Universal Analytics

If you rely on Google Analytics to track and analyze your website’s performance, this transition means that all your Universal Analytics data from before July 1, 2023 will disappear unless you back it up. Of course, you may want to hold onto this historical data for things like year-over-year comparisons, market trends, and past strategies to learn from and move forward in shaping your business for the GA4 era. 

Maybe someday you’ll want hard data to cross-check a product page’s unique user count across the first 12 hours of launching that new product page back on May 13th, 2016. On the other hand, you might not have the slightest interest or need to back up ancient historical data because your business has changed dramatically, or you were never tracking your performance in the first place. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. 

When it comes to the rationale of it all: that’s just like, your opinion, man.

Where Do I Start?

Unfortunately, simply importing historical UA data into GA4 isn’t the answer. In fact, it’s apples-to-oranges– GA4 utilizes an entirely different, event-based measurement model, compared to UA’s session-based model. Which is to say, the UA > GA transition line isn’t one you should find a way to blur, just to contextualize. If you’ve got 15 minutes to spare, this video from Loves Data will get you up to speed!

If you haven’t already, it’s best to just make note of the exact date or time range when your organization started using GA4 as your source of truth, instead of UA. Make it a footnote in your reporting, and common knowledge for anyone who deals in data. You or your business may have chosen to do this on a deliberate day (like Jan 1 2024, 2023, etc.) or, perhaps not.

If your UA/GA4 cutoff transition or cutoff date feels messy or imperfect and throws a wrench in year-over-year comparisons for any given year, don’t feel too bad. You are absolutely not alone.

For reference, all UA properties stopped collecting data on July 1, 2023.

Let the Backups Begin

Nonetheless, here are five ways you can back up your site’s UA data and save your historicals from biting the dust for good. 

  1. The most straight-forward option is to export your data from UA as a CSV or Excel file. This is fairly simple, but can be time-consuming as you will have to back up each piece of data one-by-one. If your business has more data to save than you can count, this may not be the best option. You’ll have to use your own judgment for which data points are worthwhile, and how far back you really think you’ll need historicals. 
  2. Some free options like SyncWith, a Google Sheets Extension, can help you automate some of the heavy lifting of what would otherwise be manual UA exports, while retaining the data in a spreadsheet that isn’t a goner on July 1st, 2024. Again, you’ll need to specify exactly what you’d like it to grab for you, but it can be a massive time saver when it comes to backing lots of data up to a central location. 
  3. You can use your business's Google Analytics Reporting API to pull data. You can then pre-program scripts to run and begin dumping the data into the storage service of your choice. This can be a breath of fresh air for you if your business has a large volume of data to back up. It is also a generally free option, unless your business’s chosen storage service has fees. 
  4. If your business uses GA360, you are fortunate to have a built-in pipeline from UA straight to Google BigQuery. In addition to it being another great option if your business has a large volume of data to save, Google BigQuery also integrates well with other Google Cloud services. Storage costs are relatively cheap as you will only be spending around a couple cents per month.
  5. There are also some other great third-party tools you can use for backing up your UA data. Services like Supermetrics have a much more user-friendly interface if you are not well-versed in API services. You simply need to connect your business’s Google Analytics account to your chosen third-party service and select what data to back up. However, some third-party tools will cost you anywhere from $20 to hundreds per month.

Welcome to the GA4 Era

Google has heard the cries of your local office technophobe, and added an entirely new dashboard with GA4. Unlike UA’s original interface that many found daunting, GA4’s dashboard is a bit more streamlined. Like anything new, it will take some getting used to. But you'll soon feel familiar with its navigation panels showing realtime data, event reports, and even user journey explorations.

As mentioned before, the switch to GA4 was also a move away from UA’s pageviews tracking to events-based tracking. So, you can have a more rounded understanding of how customers are interacting with your website. This includes assisted conversions from advertisements and social media, new engagement metrics like engaged sessions and demographic data, and predictive metrics. Predictive metrics will help you see purchase probabilities and revenue predictions based on your business’s data (assuming you’ve configured your site and analytics to track e-commerce events).

Another great improvement of GA4 is an ability to track customers' activity cross-platform. If configured properly, you can analyze both web and app data to see a more complete customer journey- start to finish and platform to platform. GA4 also makes it easier to follow privacy laws like GDPR. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 doesn't store user IP addresses by default, which means there’s no need to anonymize them yourself. GA4 also grants more control over user data– you can set specific data retention periods and even turn off location tracking for certain countries, ensuring you only collect and store the information you need.


Say what you will about the agonizingly slow transition to GA4 over the years, but all of these changes can offer deeper insight into a customer's journey through your website or app, and ultimately make it easier for many webmasters and marketers alike to easily set up some pretty robust measurement capabilities, right out of the box. Or, configure even more custom metrics via Google Tag Manager container, which now takes considerably less developer know-how than tagging in the UA era.

When it comes to having your old pre-GA4 era data, it’s probably better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it. To what extent you or your company executes that ideal, we’ll trust you know best! And if not, feel free to drop us a line.

“Well, I've been 'fraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm gettin' older, too”

Fleetwood Mac, 1975

P3 Staff
P3 Staff,

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