UA Data Backup

How to Backup Google Analytics Data Before GA3 Shuts Down: A Quick Guide

Learn how to backup Google Analytics data before GA3 shutdown. Protect historical insights for informed decisions and website performance optimization.

May 11, 2024

How to Backup Google Analytics Data Before GA3 Shuts Down: A Quick Guide
How to Backup Google Analytics Data Before GA3 Shuts Down: A Quick Guide

As Google prepares to sunset Google Analytics 3 (GA3), businesses and website owners must take proactive steps to safeguard their valuable data. In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of backing up your GA3 data before the shutdown, ensuring continuity in your analytics insights and historical analysis. Whether you're a seasoned analytics professional or new to the world of data preservation, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to protect your data and maintain continuity in your analytics strategy. Let's dive in and ensure that your valuable Google Analytics data remains secure and accessible for years to come.

The Importance of Backing Up Universal Analytics Data

Universal Analytics (UA) served as a cornerstone website analytics platform for many businesses. However, Google stopped collecting new UA data on July 1st, 2023, and will completely shut down access to historical data on July 1st, 2024. This means that failing to back up your UA data will result in its permanent loss. Here's why taking action now is crucial:

Historical Trends

For website optimization, UA data functions as an indispensable historical archive, offering a comprehensive record of user behavior. By analyzing trends, seasonal fluctuations, and the impact of past marketing initiatives, website owners gain invaluable insights. This longitudinal perspective proves crucial, as it allows for informed comparisons between current performance and established baselines. The comparative analysis not only identifies areas for improvement but also facilitates the strategic formulation of future growth initiatives. Without this historical context, website optimization becomes a reactive exercise, lacking the necessary foundation to assess true progress and effectiveness. 

Informed Decision-Making

UA data offers insights into how users interact with your website. This knowledge is critical for optimizing user experience, improving content strategy, and tailoring marketing campaigns to better reach your target audience. Losing this data hinders your ability to make data-driven decisions. UA data also helps you understand which marketing channels are driving traffic and conversions. This attribution modeling is essential for optimizing marketing spend and allocating resources effectively. Without historical data, you lose the ability to accurately measure the success of past campaigns. 

Preparing for the Unknown

While Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the current platform, the future is unpredictable. Unforeseen situations may arise where historical UA data becomes invaluable. Having a backup ensures you have access to this information if needed. Additionally, depending on your industry or location, data retention regulations might mandate keeping historical website analytics data. A backup ensures compliance with such regulations.

Factors Affecting Data Backup in Universal Analytics

Exporting data from the Universal Analytics (UA) platform involves various considerations to ensure a smooth and accurate process. Here are the factors that may affect Universal data backup:

How to Backup Google Analytics Data Before GA3 Shuts Down: A Quick Guide | Factors Affecting Data Backup in Universal Analytics
  • Data Volume and Complexity: The volume and complexity of data within the UA platform can impact the backup process. Large datasets or datasets with numerous custom dimensions, metrics, and event tracking can increase the time and resources required for exporting data.

  • Data Sampling: Universal Analytics may apply data sampling to large datasets when generating reports. This can affect the accuracy of exported data if not accounted for, particularly when dealing with aggregated or summarized data.

  • Data Retention Settings: UA allows customization of data retention settings, which determine how long data is stored before being automatically deleted. Export processes must align with these settings to ensure that all relevant data is included in backups.

  • Export Formats and Compatibility: Choosing the appropriate export format and ensuring compatibility with downstream systems are essential aspects of data backup. Whether exporting data as CSV, JSON, or other formats, compatibility with analysis tools or data warehouses must be considered.

  • Storage Capacity and Infrastructure: Adequate storage capacity and reliable infrastructure are essential for storing exported data securely. Whether storing backups on-premises or in the cloud, scalability and reliability are key considerations.

  • Security and Access Controls: Implementing robust security measures and access controls ensures that exported data remains secure and is only accessible to authorized personnel. Encryption, role-based access controls, and auditing mechanisms help protect sensitive information.

  • Compliance Requirements: Compliance regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA, may impose specific requirements on data backup and retention. Export processes must adhere to these regulations to avoid penalties and maintain compliance.

UA Data Backup Options

Choosing the appropriate backup method depends on your specific requirements, including data accessibility, automation preferences, and analytical needs. By understanding the advantages of each approach, you can make an informed decision to ensure the continuity and integrity of your UA data backup strategy.

How to Backup Google Analytics Data Before GA3 Shuts Down: A Quick Guide | UA Data Backup Options

Data backup on CSV, Excel, or Sheets

Backing up UA data using CSV, Excel, or Google Sheets provides a straightforward method to preserve your historical analytics data. This approach is suitable for users who prefer a familiar spreadsheet format and want quick access to their data for analysis or reporting purposes.

Export Function

Exporting data directly from the Google Analytics interface allows you to specify the date range and select the desired format (CSV, Excel, etc.). This method is convenient for ad-hoc backups or when you need to quickly retrieve specific data without setting up additional tools or integrations.

Sheets Connector Add-on

Utilizing a Google Sheets connector add-on like Supermetrics or Sheetgo offers a more automated approach to data backup. Once configured, these add-ons can regularly fetch data from your Google Analytics account and populate a Google Sheets document. This method is ideal for users who prefer automated backups and want to streamline the process of exporting data to a spreadsheet.

Data backup on BigQuery

Backing up UA data on BigQuery provides a robust and scalable solution for storing large volumes of data and performing advanced analytics. This approach is suitable for organizations with complex data analysis needs or those looking to integrate UA data with other datasets for comprehensive insights.

Setup BigQuery Integration

Linking your Google Analytics property to BigQuery enables seamless data transfer, allowing you to access your UA data directly within the BigQuery platform. This integration ensures that your data is stored securely and can be easily accessed for analysis or visualization purposes.

Export Data to BigQuery

Once linked, UA data will flow into BigQuery automatically, providing a centralized repository for all your analytics data. By leveraging BigQuery's SQL capabilities, you can run complex queries to extract specific data points, perform custom analysis, and create tailored reports. Additionally, tools like Google Data Studio or Dataflow can be used to visualize and interpret the data stored in BigQuery, enabling data-driven decision-making.


In conclusion, safeguarding your Universal Analytics (UA) data is imperative as Google prepares to sunset GA3. Failure to back up this valuable historical data could result in its permanent loss, hindering your ability to make informed decisions and optimize your website's performance. By understanding the factors affecting data backup and exploring various backup options, you can ensure the continuity and integrity of your analytics strategy.

Take control of your UA data with Analytics Safe and ensure continuity in your insights. Visit Analytics Safe to learn more and sign up for a plan that suits your business needs.