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ActiveRecord (>=3.0) plugin which allows you to hide and restore records without actually deleting them.
Branch: rails3.1
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A simple plugin which hides records instead of deleting them, being able to recover them.

This branch targets Rails 3.1.X. If you're working with another version, switch to the corresponding branch.


This plugin was inspired by acts_as_paranoid and acts_as_active.

While porting it to Rails 3, I decided to apply the ideas behind those plugins to an unified solution while removing a lot of the complexity found in them. I eventually ended up writing a new plugin from scratch.


You can enable ActsAsParanoid like this:

class Paranoiac < ActiveRecord::Base


You can also specify the name of the column to store it's deletion and the type of data it holds:

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

The values shown are the defaults. 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").


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. if you want to access them, you have 2 choices:

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

Real deletion

In order to really delete a record, just use:


You can also definitively delete a record by calling destroy or delete_all on it 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:

Paranoiac.first.destroy # does NOT delete the first record, just hides it
Paranoiac.only_deleted.destroy # 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 the default behavior for a model, you can use the recover_dependent_associations option

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

By default when using timestamp fields to mark deletion, dependent records will be recovered if they were deleted within 5 seconds 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. 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 1 minute of the Paranoic object
    acts_as_paranoid :dependent_recovery_window => 1.minute

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

Paranoiac.create(:name => 'foo').destroy => 'foo').valid? #=> true


Once you retrieve data using with_deleted scope you can check deletion status using deleted? helper:

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


Watch out for these caveats:

  • You cannot use default_scope in your model. It is possible to work around this caveat, but it's not pretty. Have a look at this article if you really need to have your own default scope.
  • You cannot use scopes named with_deleted, only_deleted and paranoid_deleted_around_time
  • unscoped will return all records, deleted or not


This gem supports the most recent versions of Rails and Ruby.


For Rails 3.2 check the README at the rails3.2 branch and add this to your Gemfile:

gem "acts_as_paranoid", "~>0.4.0"

For Rails 3.1 check the README at the rails3.1 branch and add this to your Gemfile:

gem "rails3_acts_as_paranoid", "~>0.1.4"

For Rails 3.0 check the README at the rails3.0 branch and add this to your Gemfile:

gem "rails3_acts_as_paranoid", "~>0.0.9"


This gem is tested on Ruby 1.9, JRuby and Rubinius (both in 1.9 mode). It might work fine in 1.8, but it's not officially supported.


  • To cheerfulstoic for adding recursive recovery
  • To Jonathan Vaught for adding paranoid validations
  • To Geoffrey Hichborn for improving the overral code quality and adding support for after_commit
  • To flah00 for adding support for STI-based associations (with :dependent)
  • To vikramdhillon for the idea and initial implementation of support for string column type
  • To Craig Walker for Rails 3.1 support and fixing various pending issues

Copyright © 2010 Gonçalo Silva, released under the MIT license

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