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Upgrade Center - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Universal Analytics?

Universal Analytics is a set of technological innovations that improve the way data is collected and processed in Google Analytics.

What is the Universal Analytics Upgrade?

The Universal Analytics Upgrade is a process you can follow to turn all of your classic Google Analytics properties into Universal Analytics properties.

Why should I upgrade?

Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics. Upgrading gives you the benefits of Universal Analytics, including new collection methods and reporting tools. Also note that classic Google Analytics collection methods (such as the ga.js JavaScript library) will be deprecated when Universal Analytics is fully integrated as the new operating standard. If you continue to use a classic collection method after this time, your data will not be processed.

How long does it take to upgrade?

It depends on the property you’re upgrading. There are two steps to complete the full process: 1) Transfer your property to Universal Analytics data processing technology, and 2) Implement the new Universal Analytics tracking code.

It should take you a few minutes to start the property transfer, but Google Analytics will take between 24 - 48 hours to complete the process. The time you need to implement the Universal Analytics tracking code depends on your development environment, and your data collection and reporting needs. Refer to the Upgrade Guide for details on the process.

Who should upgrade?

All classic Google Analytics properties should transfer to Universal Analytics via the Google Analytics Admin page once the option is available and you are ready to do so. After the transfer is complete, all classic tracking should be replaced with a version of the Universal Analytics tracking code: analytics.js for web tracking, the Google Analytics SDK v2.x or higher for native mobile app tracking, or the Measurement Protocol. Use the Upgrade Guide for step-by-step upgrade instructions.

If you’re already using a Universal Analytics property and have already implemented one of the above Universal Analytics tracking libraries, you don’t need to upgrade.

Users with Edit permission can transfer properties to Universal Analytics in their accounts. A developer or someone with technical knowledge should implement the new Universal Analytics tracking code.

How can I tell if I have Universal Analytics or classic Google Analytics?

There are two components that could be using either classic Google Analytics or Universal Analytics: 1) an account property and 2) the tracking code implemented on a website, mobile app, or other digital device.

Check both components to find out if you’re partially or completely using Universal Analytics.

Do I lose any data when I upgrade?

No. When you upgrade, you can access and analyze all of your historical data using the same reports and tools you use now, but you’ll also get access to features that are only available through Universal Analytics.

Do I have to upgrade each property separately?

Yes. Because data is collected and processed at the property level in Google Analytics, each property must be upgraded individually. If you have a lot of properties in a Google Analytics account, you must follow the upgrade process for each one.

Do I have to upgrade existing Universal Analytics properties?

You don’t need to transfer properties that were created using Universal Analytics, but you might have to implement the new tracking code.

If you’ve implemented analytics.js JavaScript for web properties and SDKs v2.x or higher for Android and iOS mobile apps, then you’ve already implemented a Universal Analytics data collection method. You don’t need to take any action with these properties - Universal Analytics is already fully enabled.

However, if you created a web property using Universal Analytics but implemented the ga.js JavaScript tracking code on your web pages, you need to implement the analytics.js tracking code to complete the upgrade.

Why don't I see an option to upgrade to Universal Analytics?

You will not see an option to upgrade your property if:

What happens if I don’t upgrade to Universal Analytics?

If you don't complete Step 1 of the upgrade process, your property will be auto-transfered to Universal Analytics in the future. If you don't complete Step 2 of the upgrade process, you will continue to send data to Google Analytics from a non-Universal Analytics collection method. After all Google Analytics properties have been upgraded to Universal Analytics (phase 4), non-Universal Analytics collection methods will be deprecated. These methods will continue to work for at least two years after being deprecated, but after that data sent using these methods may stop being processed. Refer to the Upgrade Guide for details on the upgrade process, and refer to the Upgrade Phases for timeline details.

What happens if I start, and don’t finish the upgrade process?

Different things can happen, depending on where you stop the process:

If you transfer a property to Universal Analytics, all data you collect and send to that property will be processed using Universal Analytics. However, if you’ve set session and campaign timeouts in your classic Google Analytics tracking code and do not configure these settings to match in Universal Analytics while the upgrade is in process, your timeouts will revert to the default settings. This might result in corrupt or incomplete data. For sessions, you’ll see either an increase or decrease in session count. For campaigns, you’ll see an increase or decrease in the frequency of the direct traffic that appears in your reports.

Although it’s not required, we recommend you implement the new tracking code (analytics.js for websites, a current Mobile SDK for Android and iOS, and the Measurement Protocol for other devices). If you send data to a Universal Analytics property using a classic Google Analytics collection method (like the ga.js JavaScript library), your data will be processed during the phases of the upgrade. Your data will not be processed, however, after the classic Google Analytics libraries and SDKs have been deprecated.

Also note that any data sent from a Universal Analytics collection method to a property that has not be transfered to Universal Analytics cannot be processed.

Why am I not seeing any new data in my reports after upgrading my code?

If you transferred your property and upgraded your code but are not seeing new data in your reports, check the Real-Time reports for your upgraded property to make sure that hits are being sent from your site or app. If you do see hits in real-time, but not in your standard reports, the data has not been processed yet and will appear in reports when processing is complete, usually within 48 hours.

If you don't see hits from your site or app in real-time reports, there may be an issue with the code you upgraded that is affecting data collection. Compare your implementation to the tagging reference guides for analytics.js, Mobile SDKs, or Google Tag Manger to make sure it's correct.

What will happen to Custom Variable data when I upgrade to Universal Analytics?

Custom Variables have been replaced with Custom Dimensions in Universal Analytics. This means that after you update your tracking code, you must also set up and use Custom Dimensions in place of the Custom Variables to collect any new data.

Your historic Custom Variable data will continue to appear in your reports after you update your tracking code and set up Custom Dimensions, but Custom Variable and Custom Dimension data can’t be combined in the same report. You must use one report to analyze your Custom Variable data and another to analyze your Custom Dimension data. To analyze Custom Variable and Custom Dimension data together, export both data sets and combine them outside of Google Analytics. A tool that can help you with this is the Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-on.

Why is there a decline in the Avg. Session Duration for my property after the upgrade?

See Isolated, unexpected drops in Avg. Session Duration when you upgrade to Universal Analytics.

Why does the behavior of setting campaign timeout to 0 in analytics.js differ from that in ga.js?

In classic analytics (ga.js), if you call _setCampaignCookieTimeout() to set campaign timout to 0, the campaign will persist as long as the current session or for the period the browser is open. Analytics.js does not use campaign cookies, so this feature will not work.

Why does upgrading to Universal Analytics increase the number of referral sessions?

Referals in Universal Analtyics will always spawn a new session, while in classic analytics, they will just continue a session if it is already open. Thus upgrading to Universal Analytics could cause an increase in referral sessions and bounce rate and a decrease in interaction metrics.