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GA removed Universal Analytics + your historical data

news  Paul Jarvis · Apr 14, 2022

Google recently announced that Universal Analytics (GA3) is being deprecated and removed in 2023. That means you will not be able to collect web analytics with UA, but you also won't be able to access your historical data from Universal Analytics either.

And here's the worst of it: there's no way to migrate or import your website analytics data from Universal Analytics to their current Google Analytics 4 product. You can't even pay them to keep it for longer.

Luckily, Fathom has built a Universal Google Analytics importer and GA4 importer to migrate your Google Analytics data from being gone forever. But let’s keep going to get into the details (and why you may want to consider Fathom).

Wait, why is Google killing off Universal Analytics?

This announcement is a massive blow to agencies, small businesses and everyone else using Google Analytics. People are speculating (rightfully so) that Google wants to abandon the SMB website analytics market because of the never-ending privacy issues Google continues to face.

July 1, 2023, is the date they've set to stop processing new hits (data, metrics, conversions, etc.) for Universal analytics properties. And "some future date" when historical data will just disappear forever (unless you migrate that data into Fathom).

And while Google lets you export this data, it's a) not exactly easy to do, and b) once exported, the data isn't that useful unless you're a data analyst.

It's also mind-boggling that Google doesn't want their "customers" to import UA data into their new GA4 product. They want people to switch to GA4, but they wrongly assume people don't want to take their historical data with them.

This is just a guess, but GA4 may not be seeing great adoption rates. GA4 is confusing, hard to use, and takes a lot more time to find specific data. So now they're forcing the switch on hold-outs (see: most people).

GA4 is also "designed with privacy at its core" to move towards privacy law compliance (no cookies and no IP address storage). And while this new version does move in that direction a bit, it's still illegal in the EU and has not addressed the Schrems II ruling.

The interface for GA4 is even more complex than the already-complex UA. Some courses span months teaching people how to use Google Analytics (for a good reason: it's challenging to use and full of lots of feature bloat). It also can take dozens of clicks to get simple information like “how many people visited my site from Google?”

The move to deprecate UA and force GA4 feels like Google wants to stop being an analytics software for small businesses, marketers and creators... and move further into enterprise and full-on data science. Luckily Fathom disagrees with Google, as we believe analytics, especially for SMBs, should be easy to use and historical data should never be thrown away or permanently deleted.

How can you save your Universal Google Analytics data?

If you stick with Google, the short answer is: you can’t. You could run an export of the data and save the CSV file… but the data isn't exactly "user friendly." And you lose the ability to search/filter through it.

As we said at the top of this article, Fathom Analytics has created a Google Analytics (UA + GA4) importer to migrate your data from Google Analytics to Fathom. Using our importer, your historical data from UA can live on forever, right on an easy-to-understand Fathom dashboard. Accessible and readable instantly.

We created Fathom Analytics to be two things:

  • First, to be privacy-focused. We are fully compliant with GDPR, and all our features respect privacy. Bonus: because of this, no cookie consent banner is required either.
  • Second, to be easy-to-use. No courses or month-long training is required. All of your data lives on a single screen that's easy to understand and quick to use.

Why is Fathom a better GA4 alternative?

We're biased here, but we built Fathom to be a Google Analytics alternative that's easy to use and privacy-focused. You can even try GA4 for yourself, see how complicated and time-consuming it is, then import your GA4 data into Fathom too. Here are just a handful of reasons why Fathom Analytics is better than either version of Google Analytics.

  1. Fathom isn't illegal like Google Analytics. This is a pretty huge reason. We're a Canadian company, GDPR compliant, and process the data from EU visitors in a revolutionary and fully-compliant way, using intelligent routing.
  2. Fathom sells software, not data. We charge a fair price for our software because that's our business model. We feel that's more honest and upfront than saying software is "free" and then using that data to make billions of dollars.
  3. Fathom doesn't require ugly cookie banners. We don't use cookies and don't invade privacy, so those ugly consent banners aren't needed.
  4. Fathom keeps your data forever. UA data will be permanently deleted shortly for everyone, and GA4 only keeps your data for 2 or 14 months. With Fathom, we offer infinite data retention, so as long as you’re a customer, your data is quickly accessible forever.
  5. Fathom is fast. Faster than Google Analytics and is excellent for your SEO. Our script loads quickly around the world via our global CDN.
  6. Fathom is simple. No courses are needed. No training is necessary. You don't have to be a senior-level data scientist to read our dashboards.

Say goodbye to Google Analytics for good

You aren't alone if you're tired of a company shutting down the product you're using and then not letting you import your data into their new version. The internet is pretty upset by this news from Google that they're killing Universal Analytics.

Luckily there is an option to save your data from going away forever with Fathom’s importer—which is available to all our customers, on every single plan, without limits on how much historical data you want to import (for free).

Fathom Analytics has been around for years (and no plans to go anywhere), and since we don't have investors (we're happily bootstrapped and profitable), our customers are the only people we care to answer to. If you're unhappy with Google Analytics, we hope you'll consider becoming a customer. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial and see how simple and time-saving it can be.

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Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis, author + designer

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