Rushing to save that old Google Analytics data.

Save your old Google Analytics 3 data now

Google Analytics 3 has been dead for a year now - but its data is about to be buried. You have just a few days left to save it.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Act fast. From Monday, Google will be deleting old Google Analytics data, all the metrics held in Universal Analytics. As many of you will be aware, Google forced the move to GA4 last year, which is a very different product to the old Google Analytics. One, that I would argue is much less suited to editorial use than its predecessor. But that’s not today’s subject.

You have until Monday, July 1st — literally only days away — to find some way of backing up your historic data before Google bins it.

Why should you bother? Historic traffic data is invaluable in audience work. For example, I’d be really surprised if some teams in the UK haven’t been looking at data from 2019 in recent months. After all, that’s the most recent information that have about reader interest from a general election…

If you want to understand the role of evergreen content in your publication’s success, you need it. If you would like to see how audience interest grows and wanes around events or topics, you need long-term analytics data. Many other patterns in audience and traffic acquisition are cyclical, and having multi-year comparators to understand what is happening is invaluable.

And Google’s about to bin all of that. (Well, you do get what you pay for…)

Saving your universal analytics data

Here are three ways you can quickly extract your data:

1. Put it in a new analytics package

Not surprisingly, many of the competitive analytics packages have built importers, so you can bring your data across. This does mean that you’ll end up paying for metrics, but if you’re serious about your audience, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve long been a user of Plausible, which does a really good, simple, and editorially focused analytics package, but they only hold data for between three and five years depending on how much you’re paying. Not ideal if you have a decade of traffic to store.

And so, I strongly recommend Fathom Analytics. It has a quick and simple importer from Google Analytics, its tracking code is lightweight so it won’t slow down your pages, and is privacy-respecting. Well worth a try.

Get a $10 credit for Fathom Analytics, the privacy-focused website analytics company - Fathom Analytics
Someone has shared a link with you that gives you $10 credit upon sign-up.

2. Put it in Google Sheets

Google offers a set of instructions for dumping your past metrics into Google Sheets. I have never been able to make it work.

However, last night I finally found a template and set of instructions that work well enough. If you want a free, relatively easy, and long-term way of storing the data, this might be the right approach for you:

How to save your old Google Analytics data - Attacat
A quick, fool-proof approach for mere mortals to export their data from Universal Analytics (GA3) before Google deletes it forever.

3. Pay someone to do the export for you

Full disclosure: I have not personally used this service, although I did a trail export using the free version, and all seemed good.

I suspect, for the more techie among you, the automated spreadsheets export might be the most useful

Export your GA3 / Universal Analytics Data with GA3-Exporter
Google Analytics 3 (GA3) has now shut down. Save your GA3 data before you lose access. Discover GA3-exporter, the fastest and simplest way to download all the reports and web analytics data you need.

The Slow Way

Yes, you can manually export some of the data from the old Google Analytics. Go to any report or view, and just use the export button:

Exporting data from Google Analytics 3

This will be slow, laborious, and might take the whole weekend you have left… But it will (largely) work.

The clock is ticking

Remember, Google starts deleting data on Monday, 1st July 2024. Get on this while you still can.


Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.