Heed Google Analytics’ Warning About Data Retention—Or Risk Losing Years of Stored Info

Guess what type of email we love getting here at Valet? Anything that isn’t a notification.

It’s not that notifications upset us. We know they’re necessary. It’s just that we receive so many of them.

The reason we get so many notifications is that we support and love so many websites. Each of those websites is wired up to many services, and all of those services send out notifications.

However, since every notification is potentially super-important, we take the time to review all of them in great detail.

Actually, truth be told, it feels more like what we do is decode rather than review them. But it’s only by carefully deconstructing and digesting each notification that we’re able to stay on top of all the technical mumbo-jumbo and geeky stuff (and in so doing spare our awesome clients the trouble of doing any of that work themselves).

It’s a very good thing that we follow this practice because otherwise the super-duper-important (and interesting) email that arrived this week from our friends at Google Analytics might have gone overlooked.

Changes Are Coming to Data Retention

According to Google Analytics’ notification, a new feature starts affecting your account effective next week—May 25 to be exact. That feature is data retention control. This setting lets you decide how long to store user and event data.

Hmmm. May 25. GDPR goes into effect that same day. Coincidence? I think not. 😉

At any rate, Google Analytics sees this new feature impacting you in the following ways:

  • Marked for permanent deletion will be any user and event data older than the retention setting, meaning no further access to it in Google Analytics.
  • Deletion will affect use of segmentation, some custom reports, and secondary dimensions when applied in date ranges older than the retention setting.
  • Unaffected will be reports based on aggregated data.

Warning: Beginning  May 25, failure to update the data retention control setting risks loss of your Google Analytics data.

Google Analytics user and event data escape deletion if collected during the default setting’s window of 26 months. However, those data automatically expire if collected prior to that span of time.

This 26-month limit is a moving bookend—so data deletions can be expected to continue as time passes and as data become older than 26 months.

How to Keep Your User and Event Data

Google Analytics’s new setting gives you the option of retaining data for:

  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months
  • Basically forever (if you choose “do not automatically expire”)

We strongly recommend you pick that last option (“do not automatically expire”), unless you possess a very good and definite reason to let your user and event data expire.

Here’s how to adjust this new setting once you log into your Google Analytics account:

Step 1. Select your account.

 

Step 2. Start at Analytics Accounts, click Properties & Apps, then click Views.

 

Step 3. Select Admin > Tracking Info > Data Retention.

 

Step 4. Choose User and Event Data Retention duration.

 

Step 5. Save your settings!!!

 

Repeat these steps for any and all Views for any and all Google Analytics properties.

And remember—do this before May 25, 2018. Otherwise, you lose every last lick of your user and event data collected prior to the 26-month default setting. Gone. Forever. No undoing it.

Don’t shrug your shoulders about this. You might not feel a need today to keep your user and event data, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the need tomorrow.

Of course, the warning contained in Google Analytics’ notification will give you no reason to fret if you’re a part of the Valet family.

You already are a Valet family member? Great! Then please send us an email or give us a call and let us know you need us to work on addressing this data retention control matter for you. We’ll get started right away.

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