How to Safeguard Your UA Data

Google's Universal Analytics (UA) data is scheduled to become unavailable to all users on December 31, 2023. This means that the majority of UA users will lose access to their historical data (data collected prior to July 1 of this year) when they were mandated to transition to GA4. The urgency of saving your UA data cannot be overstated. In this guide, we'll explore effective strategies to safeguard your invaluable UA data.

What can you do to save all your data before it disappears? Here are some options:

Methods for Saving Your UA Data

Option 1: Save Data as PDFs

Step 1: Identify the data you truly need on an ongoing basis by looking at the data you consistently refer to or include in reports.
Step 2: Generate custom reports that capture this essential data.
Step 3: Determine the reporting range, specifying a period like July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, or any timeframe relevant to your organization's needs.
Step 4: Establish your data reporting periods, typically on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Step 5:  Export the report as a PDF from within UA, working your way backward in time to capture all the historical data required.Image shows the export options within Google's Universal Analytics. They are PDF, Google Sheets, Excel (XLSX), , (CSV) and Unsampled Report

However, it's essential to note that this method results in static documents, limiting their usability for complex investigations or analysis.

Alternative Approaches to Saving Your UA Data

Option 2: Export Data as CSV or Google Sheets

Benefits of this Option:
  • Greater flexibility than PDFs
  • Suitable for larger datasets
Limitations of this Option:
  • A maximum of 500 lines per dimension can be exported from UA (compared to 5,000 with GA4).
  • Not suitable for exporting reports with more than 500 pages or reports with multiple dimensions exceeding 500 within a given reporting period.
Repeat steps 1-4 from Option 1, but instead of exporting the data to a PDF, choose the CSV format (which can be imported into Excel files) or Google Sheets.

Option 3: Looker Studio - A Comprehensive Solution to Safeguard Your UA Data

This option is similar to Option 1 but uses Google's Looker Studio for creating custom reports. While it may be more time-consuming, the benefits are immense. Looker Studio utilizes Google API for extracting data, eliminating row limits.

Step 1 - 4: Repeat Steps from Option 1
Steps 1 to 4 from Option 1 apply to Option 3, with the added advantage of using Google's Looker Studio for creating custom reports.
Sample Looker Stuido Custom report showing KPI for landing pages
Example of a a Landing page Report using Looker Studio

Step 5: Export the data from the Looker Studio report to Google Sheets for each reporting period.
Steps 6: Organize and Consolidate

Create a master Google Sheet for the entire date range needed to save your data. Then, access each Google Sheet with exported data (Step 5), rename it with the appropriate date range, and send it to the master sheet. This approach offers unlimited rows (dimensions), ensuring the safety of your data.
Image shows multiple tabs in a Google Sheet. Each tab contains the name of a month and year

The major benefit of Option 3 and using Looker Studio is that there are virtually no limitations on how many rows (dimensions) can be exported.

Other Options for Protecting Your UA Data

While other options, such as implementing Google API for data extraction into a data warehouse or alternative formats, exist, these may necessitate expertise beyond that of most analysts. In such cases, it is advisable to seek assistance from your systems or database team.

In conclusion, taking proactive measures to save your UA data is imperative as the deadline for data inaccessibility draws near. Evaluate the options outlined in this guide and choose the method that best suits your organization's needs, ensuring the security and accessibility of your invaluable UA data.

If you need help with any of these, feel free to reach out. We’ve helped many people save their Universal Analytics data already.