Created: 2008-03-04 04:48
Updated: 2019-03-01 07:24
License: mit


Build Status

A Rails plugin to add soft delete.

This gem can be used to hide records instead of deleting them, making them recoverable later.


This branch targets Rails 4.2, 5.0 and 5.1, with experimental support for 5.2

If you're working with another version, switch to the corresponding branch, or require an older version of the acts_as_paranoid gem.

Known issues with Rails 5.2

  • Using acts_as_paranoid and ActiveStorage on the same model leads to a SystemStackError.
  • You cannot directly create a model in a deleted state.


Install gem:

gem 'acts_as_paranoid', '~> 0.6.0'
bundle install

Create migration

bin/rails generate migration AddDeletedAtToParanoiac deleted_at:datetime:index

Enable ActsAsParanoid:

class Paranoiac < ActiveRecord::Base

The default column name and type are as follows:

  • :column => 'deleted_at'
  • :column_type => 'time'


If you are using a different column name and type to store a record's deletion, you can specify them as follows:

  • :column => 'deleted'
  • :column_type => 'boolean'

While column can be anything (as long as it exists in your database), type is restricted to:

  • boolean
  • time or
  • string

If your column type is a string, you can also specify which value to use when marking an object as deleted by passing :deleted_value (default is "deleted"). Any records with a non-matching value in this column will be treated normally (ie: not deleted).

If your column type is a boolean, it is possible to specify allow_nulls option which is true by default. When set to false, entities that have false value in this column will be considered not deleted, and those which have true will be considered deleted. When true everything that has a not-null value will be considered deleted.


If a record is deleted by ActsAsParanoid, it won't be retrieved when accessing the database.

So, Paranoiac.all will not include the deleted records.

When you want to access them, you have 2 choices:

Paranoiac.only_deleted # retrieves only the deleted records
Paranoiac.with_deleted # retrieves all records, deleted or not

When using the default column_type of 'time', the following extra scopes are provided:

time =


# Or roll it all up and get a nice window:
Paranoiac.deleted_inside_time_window(time, 2.minutes)

Real deletion

In order to really delete a record, just use:


NOTE: The .destroy! method is still usable, but equivalent to .destroy. It just hides the object.

Alternatively you can permanently delete a record by calling destroy or delete_all on the object twice.

If a record was already deleted (hidden by ActsAsParanoid) and you delete it again, it will be removed from the database.

Take this example:

p = Paranoiac.first
p.destroy # does NOT delete the first record, just hides it
Paranoiac.only_deleted.where(:id => # deletes the first record from the database


Recovery is easy. Just invoke recover on it, like this:

Paranoiac.only_deleted.where("name = ?", "not dead yet").first.recover

All associations marked as :dependent => :destroy are also recursively recovered.

If you would like to disable this behavior, you can call recover with the recursive option:

Paranoiac.only_deleted.where("name = ?", "not dead yet").first.recover(:recursive => false)

If you would like to change this default behavior for one model, you can use the recover_dependent_associations option

class Paranoiac < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_paranoid :recover_dependent_associations => false

By default, dependent records will be recovered if they were deleted within 2 minutes of the object upon which they depend.

This restores the objects to the state before the recursive deletion without restoring other objects that were deleted earlier.

The behavior is only available when both parent and dependant are using timestamp fields to mark deletion, which is the default behavior.

This window can be changed with the dependent_recovery_window option:

class Paranoiac < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :paranoids, :dependent => :destroy

class Paranoid < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :paranoic

  # Paranoid objects will be recovered alongside Paranoic objects
  # if they were deleted within 10 minutes of the Paranoic object
  acts_as_paranoid :dependent_recovery_window => 10.minutes

or in the recover statement

Paranoiac.only_deleted.where("name = ?", "not dead yet").first.recover(:recovery_window => 30.seconds)


ActiveRecord's built-in uniqueness validation does not account for records deleted by ActsAsParanoid. If you want to check for uniqueness among non-deleted records only, use the macro validates_as_paranoid in your model. Then, instead of using validates_uniqueness_of, use validates_uniqueness_of_without_deleted. This will keep deleted records from counting against the uniqueness check.

class Paranoiac < ActiveRecord::Base
  validates_uniqueness_of_without_deleted :name

p1 = Paranoiac.create(:name => 'foo')

p2 = => 'foo')
p2.valid? #=> true

p1.recover #=> fails validation!


You can check the status of your paranoid objects with the deleted? helper

Paranoiac.create(:name => 'foo').destroy
Paranoiac.with_deleted.first.deleted? #=> true


As you've probably guessed, with_deleted and only_deleted are scopes. You can, however, chain them freely with other scopes you might have.

For example:


This is exactly the same as:


You can work freely with scopes and it will just work:

class Paranoiac < ActiveRecord::Base
  scope :pretty, where(:pretty => true)

Paranoiac.create(:pretty => true)

Paranoiac.pretty.count #=> 1
Paranoiac.only_deleted.count #=> 0
Paranoiac.pretty.only_deleted.count #=> 0


Paranoiac.pretty.count #=> 0
Paranoiac.only_deleted.count #=> 1
Paranoiac.pretty.only_deleted.count #=> 1


Associations are also supported.

From the simplest behaviors you'd expect to more nifty things like the ones mentioned previously or the usage of the :with_deleted option with belongs_to

class Parent < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :children, :class_name => "ParanoiacChild"

class ParanoiacChild < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :parent

  # You may need to provide a foreign_key like this
  belongs_to :parent_including_deleted, :class_name => "Parent", :foreign_key => 'parent_id', :with_deleted => true

parent = Parent.first
child = parent.children.create

child.parent #=> nil
child.parent_including_deleted #=> Parent (it works!)


Watch out for these caveats:

  • You cannot use scopes named with_deleted and only_deleted
  • You cannot use scopes named deleted_inside_time_window, deleted_before_time, deleted_after_time if your paranoid column's type is time
  • You cannot name association *_with_deleted
  • unscoped will return all records, deleted or not



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