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Data Differences & Thresholds in GA4 vs. UA

In our continuing blog series about the new Google Analytics 4 interface (GA4), we now take a look at some of the data differences and threshold nuances that users should be aware of to help make the most of GA4, and how these may compare to the previous Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 stands out as a powerful tool for understanding user behaviour and gathering insights but, like any analytics platform, it has its own set of intricacies, including data differences and thresholds.

Data Differences

One of the key aspects to consider when working with GA4 is understanding data differences compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics (UA).

GA4 brings a paradigm shift in tracking user data by focusing on events and user-centric data rather than pageviews and sessions. This fundamental change can lead to disparities in the data seen between the two versions.

For instance, in UA, a session could include multiple pageviews and interactions. In GA4, each interaction is tracked as an event, making it more granular. Consequently, the total number of sessions in GA4 may be different from what was seen in UA.

Additionally, as noted in our previous GA4 blog, GA4 Data Retention and Exploration Reports, the way GA4 handles data retention differs from UA. GA4 retains user data for a default period of 14 months, while UA retains data for 26 months. This disparity can impact historical data analysis and comparisons.


Thresholds in GA4 refer to the minimum amount of data required for certain reports to be populated. It’s important to be aware of these thresholds as they can affect the ability to access insights.

One such threshold is the “4-day, 10-event” rule. In GA4, certain reports, like the User Explorer, require at least 4 days of data and a minimum of 10 distinct events for a user before they appear in the report. This is designed to protect user privacy by ensuring that individual users can’t be identified with a small amount of data.

Another threshold to consider is the “sampled data” threshold. When there is a high volume of data, GA4 may sample the data in certain reports to make processing more efficient. While this doesn’t impact the overall accuracy of the data, it can affect the precision of specific reports. Understanding when and why sampling occurs is crucial for interpreting the data correctly.


Google Analytics 4 is a robust analytics platform that offers a wealth of insights into user behaviour. However, it’s essential to be aware of data differences compared to Universal Analytics and the thresholds that affect the reports. By understanding these nuances, it’s possible to ensure that informed decisions are made based on accurate data.

To leverage GA4 effectively, it’s best practice to stay updated with Google’s documentation and consider working with experienced analytics professionals who can help to navigate the intricacies of the platform.

If you want to know more about how GA4 can be used as a powerful tool for optimising your website and digital marketing strategies, please get in touch.