How to backfill GA4 data in BigQuery

Last Updated: September 9, 2022

Backfilling GA4 data in BigQuery means importing historical GA4 data into your BigQuery project.

If you are like me, you may have been collecting data in your GA4 property for years.

But if you have only recently connected GA4 with BigQuery, you may not have all the historical data in your BigQuery project.

This is because, by default, the GA4 data is imported to BigQuery only from the date you first connected your GA4 property to your BigQuery project.

If you want historical GA4 data in your BigQuery project, then you would need to backfill GA4 data in BigQuery.

Note: If you want to backfill GA3 (Universal Analytics) data in BigQuery (in order to take its backup before it is deleted by Google) then check out this article: How to backfill Google Analytics data in BigQuery

Prerequisites for backfilling GA4 data in BigQuery

Before you can backfill GA4 data in your BigQuery project:

#1 You would need a Google Cloud Platform account with billing enabled.

#2 You would need a BigQuery project with billing enabled where you are going to store the GA4 data.

#3 You would need to connect your GA4 property with your BigQuery project.

#4 Your BigQuery project must be associated with at least one active data transfer service. You can create such a data transfer by sending custom GA4 data to BigQuery.

#5 Your initial data transfer must have been completed successfully for your chosen data source (like GA4)

Note: The GA4 data retention policies could restrict the amount of data you are allowed to backfill.

If you are using a third-party solution/connector (like Supermetrics) to connect to a data source, then the amount of data you are allowed to backfill will depend upon the connector being used. 

For example,

Supermetrics for BigQuery’ connector allows you to backfill up to six months’ worth of data at one time.

If you want to backfill more data, then you would need to do it in separate batches of six months sized.

Follow the steps below to backfill GA4 data in BigQuery:

Step-1: Navigate to BigQuery data transfershttps://console.cloud.google.com/bigquery/transfers 

Step-2: Click on the name of the data transfer you created for sending custom GA4 data to BigQuery:

click on the name of the data transfer

Step-3: Click on the ‘SCHEDULE BACKFILL‘ button:

schedule backfill bigquery

You should now see a screen like the one below:

schedule a backfill run

Step-4: Click on the option ‘Run for a date range‘:

schedule a backfill run run for a data range

Step-5: Select your start date and time and then your end date and time from the date selector.

Let’s backfill 3 months of GA4 data in BigQuery:

backfill 3 months of ga4 data in bigquery

Step-6: Click on the ‘OK‘ button to start the data transfer:

schedule a backfill run start the data transfer

You should now see the message ‘Backfill scheduled‘ at the bottom of your screen:

backfill scheduled

Step-7: Refresh your browser window to see the current status of various data transfers.

You should now see a screen like the one below:

list of data transfers bigquery

When you run a data transfer, you see one of the following four messages under ‘Summary’:

  1. The transfer run has completed successfully.
  2. The transfer run is in progress.
  3. The transfer run is pending (manually requested)
  4. The transfer run has failed.
data transfer messages bigquery

If a transfer run has failed then clicked on the ‘RETRY’ button:

retry data transfer messages bigquery

Step-8: Wait for the data transfer to complete. This could take some time depending upon how much data you requested to be backfilled.

Step-9: Click on the ‘SQL workspace‘ link from the left-hand side navigation:

sql workspace bigquery 1

Step-10: Navigate to the dataset which contains the data table(s) that contain the backfilled GA4 data:

navigate to the data set 1

That’s how you can backfill GA4 data in BigQuery.

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