Google changes to data retention in Analytics


Towards the end of the day yesterday, Google mass emailed all Analytics account holders to alert them of upcoming data retention changes. In case you missed it, here's a copy that we saved:

Email from Google

Ok, but what does that mean?

Put simply, Google is changing the length of time it will automatically store user and event data within the Analytics system. If a user doesn't return to the site within the designated time period, the user data is then purged.

Google uses a basic cookie to identify users and their correlated events, which helps provide more accurate data for:

  • sessions
  • new vs. returning users
  • frequency
  • event tracking
  • interaction tracking

These data retention changes were triggered by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but because of the global reach of the internet, Google has simplified matters by applying the changes to everyone.

What should I do?

Google is defaulting all Analytics accounts to store data for 26 months, which is quite a long time considering most serious real estate leads buy or sell within 3 months. If someone hasn't visited your site in over two years, you may want to consider them a new user anyway. That said, you can extend this option to 38 months, 50 months, or "do not automatically expire."

If you want to track users and events for as long as possible, you'll want to go into your settings and select "do not automatically expire." You can find this under:

Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Data Retention

Analytics data retention options

What if I have questions?

Post your questions about these data retention changes in the comments below and we'll be happy to answer that!


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Sandeep Malviya

So this means, GA won't delete old data like sessions etc. and will delete only the user-specific data like whether the visitor is new or existing based on the time period we have selected. If selected 36 months and the user comes back within this period then this will be counted as returning visitor. Right?


Hi Sandeep, great questions! All of your interpretations are correct. Google will be deleting the data that tracks specific users, but the actual result of their actions in your Analytics will stay the same. Your traffic and history data stays the same. All it really means is that if a user returns after the expiration period, they will be tracked as a new user.

You're also right that the "timer" resets each time a user returns. Using 36 months as an example, the data would wipe if the user doesn't return at all within the period. If they do return, it would take another 36 months of no activity after that for the data to wipe.

Thanks for your questions!

Sandeep Malviya

Thanks for the response Eric,

1. Regarding GDPR if you can help, how to maintain records (and which all records) of the visitors should be maintained whether they have given consent or not.

2. Also, is it fine, if we just mention in one line top bar that 'by using the website you are giving confirmation on our terms of use and privacy policy' or does it require to mention anything more? Rest details would be in the privacy policy and terms of use.

3. Regarding my existing email database, I am thinking to send an email to all and taking their consent implicitly. Is this correct as per GDPR? 'If you are seeing this message, you are giving your confirmation or you can reply to this email to remove you from our email list'. or there should be a subscribe button in the email and the user will have to click on the button and subscribe?


Hi Sandeep! Thank you for your follow-up questions. Unfortunately, I can't provide the answers you are looking for at this time. REW is a North America based company, which means we're not familiar with all the intricacies of the EU's GDRP legislation. In addition, we as a company can't provide legal advice on compliance matters. I recommend bringing your questions to a lawyer who is well acquainted with GDRP.

Sandeep Malviya

Thanks for sparing time Eric.

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