Data retention

The Google Analytics Data Retention controls give you the ability to set the amount of time before user-level and event-level data stored by Google Analytics is automatically deleted from Analytics servers.

User and event data retention

The retention period applies to user-level and event-level data associated with cookies, user-identifiers (e.g., User-ID) and advertising identifiers (e.g., DoubleClick cookies, Android’s Advertising ID, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers).

While the retention period and user-activity reset controls cover event and user-level data stored by Google Analytics, certain user-keyed data is by default deleted by Google Analytics after 6 months of inactivity for a given user.

You can choose how long Analytics retains data before automatically deleting it.

The maximum amount of time that Analytics will retain Google-signals data is 26 months, regardless of your settings.

Google Analytics 4 properties

For Google Analytics 4 properties, retention of user-level data, including conversions, is fixed at up to 14 months. For all other event data, you may choose the length of retention:

  • 2 months
  • 14 months

The two-month retention period is always applied to age, gender, and interest data regardless of your settings.

When you increase the retention period it is applied to data that you have already collected.

Keep in mind that the data retention setting does not affect standard aggregated reports in your Google Analytics 4 property, even if you create comparisons in the reports. The data retention setting only affects Analysis reports.  

Universal Analytics properties

For Universal Analytics properties, the setting applies to user-level and event-level data. You can choose:

  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months
  • Do not automatically expire
Increasing the retention period or changing it to Do not automatically expire, however, does not affect data that you have already collected. For example, data collected when 14 months was in effect will still be deleted 14 months after it was collected even if you change the retention period to 26 months.

Keep in mind that standard aggregated Google Analytics reporting is not affected. The user and event data managed by this setting is needed only when you use certain advanced features like applying custom segments to reports or creating unusual custom reports.

Deletion of data

When data reaches the end of the retention period, it is deleted automatically on a monthly basis.

If you reduce the retention period, then any affected data is deleted during the next monthly process. For example, if you change from 26 months to 14 months, then any data older than 14 months is deleted during the next monthly process.

Whenever you modify the retention period, Analytics waits 24 hours before implementing the change. During this 24-hour period, you can revert your change and your data will be unaffected.

If you use a date range for non-aggregated reports that is longer than your retention period, then data for that additional time is not visible in reports. For example, if you set retention to 14 months and you use a date range of 14 months + 1 day, then data for the additional 1 day is not available in your reports.

Reset on new activity

Turn this option ON to 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.

If you do not want the retention period for a user identifier reset when that user has new activity, turn this option OFF. Data associated with the user identifier will be deleted automatically after the retention period.

The reset feature applies to only user-level data.

Set the options

You need Edit permission to set this option for a Google Analytics property.
  1. Sign in to Google Analytics..
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property you want to edit.
  3. For web properties: In the PROPERTY column, click Tracking Info > Data Retention.
    For Google Analytics 4 properties: In the PROPERTY column, click Data Settings > Data Retention.
  4. For web properties: User and event data retention: select the retention period you want.
    For Google Analytics 4 properties: Event data retention: select the retention period you want.
  5. For web properties: Reset on new activity: turn the switch on or off.
    For Google Analytics 4 properties: Reset user data on new activity: turn the switch on or off.
  6. Click Save.

Data retention and the Users metric

As of February of 2018, we added the Users metric to many additional reports. Because this metric is new in these reports, we do not have aggregated data for this metric for all of these reports for all time. This may impact your historical reporting: you may see zeros for User counts prior to the time for which we have aggregated data for that metric.

We began aggregating data for 360 properties on May 1, 2016, and for standard properties on Sept 1, 2016.

This does not affect the Audience Overview report, however, which has aggregated User data for a much longer period of time.

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