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Changing data retention settings in Google Analytics

While for many brands, the 26 month default retention limit will suffice, it can affect your ability to carry out in depth historical research if you ever need it

What are data retention settings

Announced in early 2018, data retention settings were ostensibly introduced as a response to the European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that were adopted on the 25th May 2018. These settings determine the point after collection at which Google will automatically delete user and event data.

This does, cynics may say, also allow Google to offload a lot of non-vital data (back in 2014, Google was already spending $20 bn a year on data storage and it’s unlikely to have diminished), with Google expecting the fact that these settings will not impact aggregate data to lead to most brands keeping their 26 month limit – potentially allowing them to offload decades and terrabytes of data.

Why do I need to keep my data?

The chances are, the 26 month default setting will suffice for most brands – the fact that aggregate reporting will remain unaffected means that your standard report types will be exactly the same (in fact, you’ve been on the default setting since 25th May).

The main reasons to keep your data longer (or indefinitely) are: if you conduct any in depth data analysis or adhoc reporting using data sampling, segmentation etc. (for example – large sites with high volume, multifaceted traffic types) and: to ensure your attribution reports and flow-visualisation reports are accessible prior to the 26 month cut off.

How to change your data retention settings

Step 1

In order to change your settings, you’ll need to log in to your Google Analytics account and click on the Admin cog.


Step 2

Then select ‘Property Settings’, then ‘Tracking Info’, then ‘Data Retention’.


Step 3

This will then allow you to set the expiry limit of your data, to either: 14, 26, 38 or 50 months – or to not automatically expire at all.


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