Jonny Gios Pdg180uwhvq Unsplash

Auto-Migration Pitfalls: GA4 Features that Are Vulnerable to Breaking

The retirement of Universal Analytics is approaching quickly. Indeed, on July 1st 2023 all of Universal Analytics’s standard properties will completely cease processing data. This means that you now only have a few weeks left to migrate your setup. You might be wondering what the best way to go around this is. While the automated migration is useful, we recommend a manual approach to ensure that your analytics perform as expected after the switch. In this article, we will discuss why it is better to migrate your setup manually rather than using the automatic tool.

UA vs GA4

It's important to understand that GA4 and UA are two separate tools. GA4 has been designed to scale with your business and simplify measurement across devices and platforms. It has many new features, such as improved machine learning, better privacy, and BigQuery integration for standard users.

The differences between UA and GA4 extend beyond the user interface, including the metrics available and how they are tracked. For instance, GA4 can collect both website and app data via streams to better understand the customer journey, and it uses event-based data instead of session-based, which means that transferring historical data is not possible.

While your UA data will still be accessible, it won't be trackable in the same way. It's important to note that GA4 is a brand new tool rather than an upgrade or continuation of UA and needs to be approached with a fresh setup that aligns with your business needs and goals.
As of July 1st, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop recording your data. Therefore, it is best to save all your data by exporting it to Google Sheets or Excel, the cloud, or a custom database, depending on your needs and budget.

Potential migration issues

If you opt for automatic migration, you may come across issues such as not being able to migrate SmartGoals, Duration Goals, and Pages/session goals, RegEx URL, and event-related goals, among others. The GA4 setup assistant is split into two different actions, and those who have auto-migrated may find that the data appearing in GA4 is not as clear or accurate. We recommend that each of the 12 steps is completed manually.

To avoid these common mistakes and customise the tool to your business requirements and needs, it's better to set up your GA4 instance manually. Opting out of the automatic migration is simple and can be done by turning off the "Automatically set up a basic GA4 property" switch in your UA account's Admin > Property column > GA4 Setup Assistant. Note that GA4 is continuously evolving, and the information provided in this article is true as of March 2023. It will undergo regular updates and tweaks until its full release.


In conclusion, while Google's automated migration tool may seem like an easy solution for upgrading to GA4, it's important to remember that GA4 is a completely new tool with different features and capabilities than Universal Analytics. Migrating manually may take more effort, but it can help you avoid common migration mistakes and ensure that your analytics performs as expected once the switch occurs.

Remember to save all your data from Universal Analytics before the retirement date of July 1, 2023, and consider exporting your data to Google Sheets or Excel, the cloud, or a custom database.

If you decide to use the automatic migration tool, be aware of the common issues that may arise, such as broken migrated conversions, referral exclusion list issues, and missing micro and macro conversions. Make sure to complete all 12 steps in the Setup Assistant and customise your GA4 instance to your business needs and goals.

If you prefer to opt-out of the automatic migration, follow the steps provided in this article. Regardless of your chosen approach, keep in mind that GA4 is a work in progress and may undergo regular updates and improvements in the future.

Visit our blog today for more tips and advice. Don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if you have any questions or need help with your migration. If you would like to book in a quick 15 minute call with our experts, we’d love to help focus your next steps.