Understanding Data Deletion Requests in Google Analytics 4


You can now (finally) delete data from Google Analytics!

Deleting data can be scary.

After all, we love our data, right? But for whatever reason, sometimes it's best to get rid of it.  Never fear because Google Analytics 4 makes it easy and stress-free to dump data with data deletion requests.

So how do you perform data deletion requests in Google Analytics 4? You can schedule a request by going to “Admin” in your GA4 property. Once you’ve set it up, you have a 7-day grace period to view your changes and decide if you want them to be permanent.

Alternatively, you could delete your account, property or even the data stream.

Today, we’re going to discuss why you might need to delete data from your GA4 property and explain how to do it. Let's get started!

Why Would I Need To Delete Data?

Deleting data in Google Analytics is a pretty big deal, as it can affect all your reports. You’ll only want to perform a data deletion request in certain situations, so make sure you assess your need for this request clearly before moving forward with it.

There are a few reasons why you might want to delete data permanently from your GA4 property. For example:

Deleting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

One of the big reasons you may need to delete data is to make sure you’re not collecting personally identifiable information or PII.

The main way Google Analytics 4 can collect this data is through a user ID. Your user IDs must comply with Google’s terms of service, which seek to protect your user’s privacy. So, if your user IDs are collecting PII and reporting it to Analytics, you’re violating those terms and your user’s privacy. For example, you shouldn’t be collecting data like your user’s email addresses or phone numbers.

There are other ways you might collect PII besides user ID. You can search for PII in your GA4 reports to make sure you’re being compliant with privacy regulations. Some of the main areas you want to look at include:

  • User ID settings.
  • Page URLs and titles.
  • Custom dimensions.
  • Event settings, including category, label, and action.
  • Ecommerce settings, like payment information, name, physical address, or phone number.

To help you avoid collecting PII, Google provides this article about best practices. If you have PII in your Analytics property, you can perform a data deletion request to remove it.

Removing Unwanted Data

Another reason you might need to perform a data deletion request is to remove unwanted data or information that doesn’t provide any insights. For example, your property might contain custom parameters that mean nothing to your analysis. The data you collect within these parameters can be confusing or distracting to see in your reports.

Depending on who set up your GA4 property, they might’ve added custom parameters that are unnecessary, like ones for a random search term that has nothing to do with your business. To clean up this data and make sure you’re only seeing meaningful information in your GA4 property, you can perform a data deletion request.

Removing Bad Data

You might also want to perform a data deletion request because something is skewing your metrics. For example, you might see huge numbers when you visit your traffic reports and think your website is totally crushing it. But upon closer inspection, this is all bot traffic, and it’s making you seem like you’re receiving much more traffic than you really are.

You may want to keep this data in certain cases, or you may want to perform a data deletion request to clean up your property. It can be tricky to identify truly “bad” data, so if you’re new to data analysis, check out our post on how to identify bad data.

There are other reasons why you might want to perform a data deletion request. Especially if you weren’t the one who originally set up the GA4 property, there can be all kinds of unwanted data in there. Just make sure you take your time to think about deleting your data thoroughly before going through with it. (Thankfully GA4 gives you a grace period on this, which we’ll discuss in the upcoming sections.)

How To Perform a Data Deletion Request

To perform a data deletion request in Google Analytics 4, you’ll need to have edit-level access. To delete data, follow these steps:

1. Log in to your GA4 property and click “Admin” in the bottom left.

2. Under “Property,” click “Data deletion requests.”

3. On the top right, click “Schedule data deletion request.”

4. Select your deletion type, start date, and end date.

5. Enter parameters if needed.

6. If deleting user properties, check the box at the bottom and enter text if needed.

7. When you’re ready, click “Schedule request” in the top right.

How is GA4 Different and What Are The Benefits?

Data deletion requests aren’t new to Google Analytics 4, as they were available in Universal Analytics too. But even though this feature isn’t unique to GA4, the benefits remain.

One of the significant benefits of data deletion requests in GA4 is that you have time to assess if you want to commit to them before they become permanent. From the time you perform your request, you have a 7-day grace period during which you can cancel the request.

This grace period is huge, as permanently deleting data from your property is significant. You can still see the results of your data deletion request during this grace period, which means you have time to access whether you want it to be permanent. If you want to cancel the request, you can do so by going to “Admin” > “Data deletion requests” and then click on the request you want to cancel.

As we mentioned above, the benefits of data deletion requests are enormous when it comes to eliminating data that’s skewing your metrics or is unnecessary for your analysis. Especially if you’ve recently taken over a GA4 property that was set up by someone else, data deletion requests can be an essential step towards cleaning up your reports.

Data deletion requests are also the quickest way to get rid of PII in your Analytics account, which is necessary to remain compliant with new privacy laws and regulations.

Data Deletion Requests in GA4

Deleting data can be scary, but there’s no reason to fear with Google Analytics 4. In your GA4 property, when you schedule a data deletion request, you have a 7-day grace period during which you can see your changes and decide if you want them to be permanent.

From deleting PII to deleting unnecessary event parameters, there are many reasons you may need to perform a data deletion request. Deleting data can help you protect user privacy, remain complainant with Google’s terms of services, and clean up your reports.

What kinds of data deletion requests have you performed in your GA4 property? Let us know!

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