Universal Analytics Upgrade Center - Upgrade Guide

This guide will show you how to upgrade an existing Google Analytics property to Universal Analytics.


The Universal Analytics Upgrade is a two step process. Review this section to get an overview of each step before you begin, so you know what to expect throughout the process.

Step 1: Transfer Property

  • Transfer your properties to Universal Analytics from the Google Analytics Admin page. You may also customize session and campaign timeout periods.
  • Only users with Edit permissions may initiate the property transfer from the Google Analytics Admin page.
  • The transfer takes minutes to initiate, but you should allow 24 - 48 hours for it to complete.
  • When the transfer is completed, the property is ready to receive data from Universal Analytics tracking code.
  • Move on to Step 2 after the transfer is complete.

Step 2: Update Tracking Code (strongly recommended)

  • Replace existing tracking code with new Universal Analytics tracking code.
  • A developer (or person with technical knowledge) should complete this step in your development environment (web pages, SDKs, etc.).
  • The time it takes to update your tracking code will vary depending on your current implementation and your tracking needs.
  • When this step is completed, you will have access to the full benefits of Universal Analytics, including new reports and features.
  • After completing this step, your full upgrade to Universal Analytics is complete.

We strongly recommend you complete Step 2 so you can ensure the highest data quality in your account and get all the benefits of the Universal Analytics Upgrade. Although updating your tracking code (Step 2) is optional at this time, you won't have access to the all of the benefits until you update your tracking code to a Universal Analytics tracking code, like the analytics.js library or Mobile SDK v2.x or higher for Android and iOS. Legacy libraries, like ga.js or v1.x of the Mobile SDKs, will be supported until Phase 4 of Universal Analytics Upgrade, at which time they will be deprecated.

Step 1: Transfer a Property to Universal Analytics

Transferring a property to Universal Analytics is done in the Google Analytics Admin page and must be initiated by a user with Edit permission.

To transfer an existing property to Universal Analytics:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics. From the Admin page, select the account and property you want to upgrade.
  2. In the property column, click Universal Analytics Upgrade.
  3. In the section called Transfer to Universal Analytics, click Transfer.
  4. Read the information in the pop-up. If you can confirm that you’re ready to transfer your property to Universal Analytics, click Transfer. If you’re not ready, click Cancel.
  5. (Optional) Click Show timeout settings and configure your session and campaign timeout handling. If you don’t configure these settings, the default values will be used. Learn more about configuring the timeout settings.
  6. Allow 24 - 48 hours for the transfer to finish. When a note that says Property transfer complete appears in your account, the transfer to Universal Analytics is done.

When the transfer is complete, your data will be handled by the Universal Analytics processing technology. We strongly recommend you implement the new tracking code to get all of the current and future benefits of Universal Analytics. Click Get tracking code to see the new snippet. Refer to Step 2 for an overview of this process, and use the Tagging Reference Guides for details on the process.

Configure Timeout Settings (optional)

Universal Analytics lets you configure settings from your Admin page that were previously managed in your code. You can configure two of these settings during the Universal Analytics Upgrade process: Session timeout and campaign timeout.

These settings let you control how long sessions and campaigns can last before they timeout. Learn more about session and campaign timeout handling.

By default, sessions end after 30 minutes and campaigns end after 6 months. If you don’t customize these settings while your property is transferring, the default values will be used.

Step 2: Update your Tracking Code (strongly recommended)

After your property has been transferred to Universal Analytics, you can start using the new tracking libraries and protocols, like analytics.js, Mobile SDK v2.x or higher, and the Measurement Protocol. Although this step is optional, you only get the full benefits of Universal Analytics after you implement the new tracking code.

Because every Google Analytics implementation is unique, completing this process will be different for every property. Refer to the Universal Analytics Tagging Reference for details on how to implement the new Universal Analytics tracking code for your environment:

Using Google Tag Manager

If you use Google Tag Manager, consider using it to complete Step 2 of the upgrade. Google Tag Manager enables you to easily implement Universal Analytics in your web site or application and eliminates the need for future retagging. Learn more about the Benefits of Google Tag Manager.

Important Considerations

Review the following caveats before you start the upgrade process.

You can’t stop the process or revert to a previous version of Google Analytics.

As soon as you start Step 1, that property will be transferred to Universal Analytics. You can’t stop the upgrade process once it has begun, nor can you revert to a previous version of Google Analytics once the process is complete.

Custom dimensions are the new custom variables in analytics.js or Mobile SDK v2.x or higher.

Custom variables have been replaced by custom dimensions in analytics.js, v2.x or higher of the Mobile SDKs, and the Measurement Protocol. If you update your tracking code to use any of these libraries or protocols, you need to replace your custom variables with custom dimensions instead. Learn more about custom dimensions (Help Center). If you transfer your property to Universal Analytics, but continue to use ga.js or v1.x of the Mobile SDKs, you can continue to use custom variables. These values will be processed as they were before the property transfer.

You must complete the process for each property you want to upgrade to Universal Analytics.

Because Universal Analytics is based on new data collection methods, the new technology is implemented at the property level in a Google Analytics account. Each existing property you have in an account must be upgraded to Universal Analytics individually.

You must transfer your property before updating your code.

Data sent via analytics.js, Mobile SDK v2.x or higher, or the Measurement Protocol won't be processed if sent to a classic Google Analytics property. To avoid any data loss, transfer your property to Universal Analytics before updating your code. However, data sent via a legacy library or protocol to a property that has been transferred to Universal Analytics will continue to be processed and appear in your reports until it is deprecated in Phase 4 of the Universal Analytics Upgrade.

You might see an unexpected decline in the Avg. Session Duration metric for some sites.

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

The behavior of setting campaign timeout to 0 in analytics.js differs 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.

Upgrading to Universal Analytics increases the number of referral sessions

See Why does upgrading to Universal Analytics increase referral sessions?

Next Steps

  • Create an implementation plan that includes all Google Analytics features you use, like ecommerce or event tracking. When you implement the Universal Analytics tracking code, you'll need to update the tracking code tags for features that require additional set up.
  • Visit the Universal Analytics tagging reference for details on how to implement the new Universal Analytics tracking code.
  • Visit the Frequently Asked Questions to find answers to additional questions you have about the Univesal Analytics Upgrade.