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Maximize Your Data Retention in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) 

Maximize Your Data Retention in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) 

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool for data-driven decision-making. Historical data is essential for understanding your customers’ journey, identifying trends, and making informed predictions. The optimal duration for retaining data varies according to your business goals, but extending it can offer a more comprehensive insight into your data. We will guide you how to maximize the potential of your historical data and explain how to extend your Google Analytics 4 retention period.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is GA4 Data Retention?
  2. How Long Does Google Analytics 4 Store Data?
  3. Benefits of Longer Data Retention Period
  4. How to Change Google Analytics Retention Period?
  5. How to Maximize Data Retention in GA4?
  6. FAQ About GA4 Data Retention
  7. Key Takeaways

What is GA4 Data Retention?

GA4 data retention is a period for which event and user data are stored. The retention period doesn’t affect default reports in GA4. It applies to exploration and funnel reports only.

Here’s an example of 2-month retention:

Example of GA4 retention period

How Long Does Google Analytics 4 Store Data?

By default, GA4 stores your event and user data for a standard period of two months. This means that, without any modifications, you can access your analytics data for the most recent two months. While this duration may suffice for businesses with short-term goals or immediate analytical needs, it often falls short for those with long-term objectives, seasonal trends, or complex user journeys that unfold over an extended timeframe.

For businesses seeking to maximize their historical data’s potential, it’s essential to extend this data retention period. In the following section, we will explore how to achieve this.

Benefits of Longer Data Retention Period

The benefits for your business to maximize data retention period can be the following:

  • Perform thorough historical analysis.
  • Uncover unforeseen trends or user segments that might have been overlooked in shorter time frames.
  • Evaluate the effects of changes or enhancements implemented over time.
  • Investigate the complete customer journey, spanning from initial engagements to conversions or repeat transactions.

How to Change Google Analytics Retention Period?

GA4 allows you to adjust your data retention settings according to your requirements. You have the flexibility to extend the default two-month period to better accommodate your unique needs.

Here is a step-by-step guide to changing your Google Analytics 4 data retention period:

  • Log in to your Google Analytics 4 account and select the property for which you wish to modify the data retention.
  • In the lower-left corner of the interface, locate the “Admin” section; click on it to access property settings.
  • Within the Property column, click on “Data collection and modification”.

GA4 admin section

  • In the Data collection and modification section, you will find the Data Retention tab where you can adjust the data retention period; GA4 offers various options, including two months and 14 months.

GA4 2 months data retention

  • After choosing your preferred retention period, remember to save the changes.

How to Maximize Data Retention in GA4?

While some users are satisfied with the 14-month GA4 data retention period, some of them still miss longer data storage, like in UA. For such users, GA4 offers three alternative options to extend data retention.

Option 1: Store Data in BigQuery

The first option is free if you don’t have a lot of data. That is storing data in BigQuery. BigQuery is a data warehouse provided by Google Cloud Platform, and it has native integration with Google Analytics 4. All you need to do is to link GA4 to BigQuery. The first 10 GB of storage and 1TB of data processing are included in the free tier every month.

Note that you should add a billing account to the Cloud project; otherwise, the data expiration will be set to 60 days. You will be billed if you use resources above the free quota.

GA4 and BigQuery linking

Option 2: Use Google Analytics 4 360

The second option is to use Google Analytics 4 360. It allows you to increase the data retention timeframe by up to 50 months. The costs start from $50,000.

Generally, GA4 360 is an enterprise solution providing increased limits and quotas for data collection. It provides higher limits for data collection, retention, and reporting. And also makes it possible to create roll-up properties and subproperties.

Option 3: Reset User Data on New Activity in GA4

Activating the “Reset user data on new activity” feature in GA4 data retention settings resets the selected data retention period for user-level data (i.e., custom user dimensions) (2-14 months) for each returning user when a user triggers any event. While this feature is beneficial for individual user data, it doesn’t safeguard historical data for users who don’t revisit the site within the chosen retention period. To overcome this limitation, apply other approaches listed above. And for event-level data that can’t be refreshed by that setting.

User data retention on

FAQ About GA4 Data Retention

  1. What is data retention in Google Analytics 4? Data retention in GA4 is the duration Google stores your data before automatically deleting it. It applies to user-level and property-level data.
  2. How long is GA4 data retained? GA4 data is retained for 2 months by default, but you can extend this period up to 14 months by accessing the data retention settings.
  3. What is the difference between UA and GA4 data retention? UA offered more flexibility in data retention than GA4, allowing data retention periods from 14 months to unlimited, while GA4’s default is 2 months, extendable to 14 months.
  4. Will I lose historical data with GA4? Yes, you will lose historical data if you switch from UA to GA4. However, exporting UA data to GA4 is possible. Refer to our guide for best practices.
  5. How do I change data retention in Google Analytics 4? Modify data retention in GA4 by following the steps outlined above. This change applies to future data, not previously collected data. Contact our GA4 consultants for assistance if needed.

Key Takeaways

Mastering Google Analytics 4 data retention is the key to understanding your analytics data and powering your business’s success.
By understanding and customizing your data retention settings, you can gain insights from historical data that can help you make smart decisions, plan for the future, and thrive.

For businesses with more advanced needs, exploring options such as integrating with BigQuery or Google Analytics 360 can provide even greater flexibility and insights.

If you require further assistance in optimizing your GA4 data retention strategy, get in touch with our experienced GA4 consultants.

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