Yesterday, Google hit my inbox pretty hard. Every website I have under my Google Analytics account hit me with the same notification.
Normally I skim these emails and then delete them in bulk.
This time, it got my attention — and if you have a website tied up with Google Analytics (who doesn’t!?!?) — you should be paying attention, too!
Changes Coming to Data Retention
Data retention control is a new feature that will start affecting your account on May 25th, 2018. This setting allows you to manage how long your user and event data is stored by Google Analytics.
I assume this is a result of the upcoming GDPR going into effect on the same day.
The impact of this new feature — as outlined in the Google Analytics email:
- Any user and event data that is older than your retention setting will be marked for permanent deletion, and will no longer be accessible in Google Analytics.
- Deletion will affect the use of segmentation, some custom reports and secondary dimensions when applied in date ranges older than your retention setting.
- Reports based on aggregated data will not be affected.”
Starting on May 25th, this setting will go into effect and you will risk losing older Google Analytics data if you do not update this setting.
The default is 26 months, so any Google Analytics user and event data collected before this date will be deleted. This also becomes the bookend for this data, as it will continue to be deleted in keeping with the 26-month limit.
But I Want to Keep It My Data
Thankfully, Google Analytics offers the following data retention options:
- 14 months
- 26 months
- 38 months
- 50 months
- Do not automatically expire
Until you have a need to let your user and event data expire — I suggest you select the last option: Do not automatically expire.
Here’s how you find this setting — after logging into your Google Analytics account:
Select the correct account:
Make your way, clicking from Analytics Accounts, Properties & Apps, and finally, clicking on Views:
Now, select Admin > Tracking Info > Data Retention:
And finally, choose the user and event data retention length and…
…don’t forget to save your settings!
You’ll want to do this with any and all Views for any and all Google Analytics properties.
It’s easier to keep this data safe until you need to make a change. Once this data is gone, it’s not coming back. There’s no undo. Better to make this change today and set the data to expire later, than let it expire and not be able to ever get it back.
It’s easy to ignore those Google Analytics emails, but after this announcement, I think I’ll be looking at them a little closer.