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In July 2023, the default Universal Analytics (UA) will disappear. So if you still rely on UA, prepare to use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) instead. Our primary concern is that our clients and businesses do not lose access to their GA historical data in UA properties until that time. Get in touch if we share the same concern.

Migrating to GA4: How to Save Your Historical Data
What’s GA4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the new feature of Google Analytics (GA) that tracks app and web visits in a single GA property rather than separating these platform visits into different GA parts.

Why Is Historical Data Not Imported Automatically?

You cannot import your historical data from UA to GA4 because the two versions have different data collection models. And it’s unlikely that Google will provide a quick fix for this UA-GA4 migration problem. So you need to act today.

You can’t move your data to GA4 because the two versions (GA4 and UA) use completely different data models (schema and dimension). Also, the definitions and calculations are done differently in the two property types.

Without using too many technical terms, we’ll only discuss how the data is changed and how the algorithms ensure compatibility.

How Can You Maintain Your GA Historical Data?

So we’ve learned that we can’t import historical data/reports to GA4, but the good news is that you can save them. And here are three ways to save your UA data before you do the GA4 migration:

  • Export Your Data Manually

Exporting data is the easiest way to get it from your Google Analytics account. Open the GA standard report you need – Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. Customize it accordingly and click EXPORT in the upper right corner and select your preferred file extension (.pdf, .xlsv, .csv)

Remember, however, that there are some limitations – for example, you only have two arrays, limited to a maximum of 5,000 rows.

  • Google Analytics Sheets Add-On

In this case, the Google Analytics add-on is responsible for exporting data from Google Analytics. You can install the GA add-on from the Google Workspace Marketplace.

The advantages of this method include

  • Data is transferred from Google Analytics directly into Google Sheets.
  • Freedom to customize dimensions and metrics in your exported report.
  • You can specify the maximum number of rows to be returned for your GA report.
  • You can automate exporting historical data from Google Analytics to Google Sheets on a schedule – for example, every day between 4 pm and 5 pm.
Migrating to GA4: How to Save Your Historical Data
  • Google Analytics API for Fetching Datasets

The Google Analytics Reporting API v4 provides programmatic access to your GA historical data in Universal Analytics (but not GA4). The application programming interface (API) has several advantages over regular Google Analytics UI. For example, the Core Reporting API provides access to most reporting data in Google Analytics, making it an ideal option for your UA-GA4 migration.

A lack of coding skills can be a significant problem for many users to enjoy this advanced analytics option. However, even tech-savvy users who use API connectors such as JSON Client by can benefit from Google Analytics APIs. 

Google Analytics API provides a viable method for archiving large amounts of data from Google Analytics, including real-time and historical data.

Beware of the Limitations of the API & Add-On

Still, there are some limitations regarding the use of API and add-ons to extract your data for Google Analytics 4 migration.

For example, with these methods, you don’t have access to raw data such as client_id (client identifiers), which is generously provided through the native use of BigQuery.

Also, these methods output in a simple format (which more advanced tools can compare to nested data); you must ensure that you combine the available dimensions and metrics into a single query.

Can Google Analytics Export All Data at Once?

We apologize if you’re one of those users who’d like to see a magic “Export All” button to instantly save all the GA historical data. That magic button doesn’t exist. But you’ve three options, which we’ve described above.

Bottom Line

Google is discontinuing UA in July 2023 in favor of GA4. Therefore, you need to switch to GA4 before anything else. The sooner you do the Google Analytics 4 migration, the more historical data you can keep and the more efficiently you can track your customers’ journey. For more information, contact us.

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