Google Analytics Data Retention Changes & Settings – What You Need to Know

What’s Happening?

On May 25, 2018 Google Analytics’ new data retention settings will take effect.


What are Google’s Data Retention Settings?

Google release data retention settings in response to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a EU regulatory law focusing on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.

Google Analytics’ data retention settings determine how long Google will retain user and event data before automatically deleting it. According to Google, aggregate data will not be affected by these retention controls. The data that can be potentially affected by this update includes user-level and event-level data associated with cookies, user-identifiers (e.g., User-IDs) and advertising identifiers (e.g., DoubleClick cookies, Android’s Advertising ID, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers).


What Does This Mean?

If you are not currently using any sort of the user-level or event-level data outlined above this change should have minimal to no impact on your account. However, after May 25, 2018 deadline, the following changes will happen:

  • 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.


What Can be Done?

As part of the new data retention settings, you can set your account, at the property level, to keep affected data before automatically deleting it for a period of time. Time period options include:

  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months
  • Do not automatically expire

When affected data reaches the end of the retention period, it is deleted automatically on a monthly basis. There is one more option, “rest upon new activity.” This setting, according to Google will, “reset the retention period of the user identifier with each new event from that user (thus setting the expiration date to current time plus retention period). For example, if data retention is set to 14 months but a user initiates a new session every month, then that user’s identifier is refreshed every month and never reaches the 14-month expiry. If the user doesn’t initiate a new session before the retention period expires, then that user’s data is deleted.”


How Can I Check/Change My Settings?

You need to have Edit permission for the property to set these options.

Google Analytics Data Retention settings

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property you want to edit.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click “Tracking Info” > “Data Retention.”
  4. User-data retention: select the retention period you want.
  5. Reset on new activity: turn the switch on or off.
  6. Save changes.

If you have any questions or need help determining what the best selection for your account is, contact Mark Carroll or Tim Hellige today!