Paranoia is a re-implementation of acts_as_paranoid for Rails 3/4/5, using much, much, much less code.

When your app is using Paranoia, calling destroy on an ActiveRecord object doesn't actually destroy the database record, but just hides it. Paranoia does this by setting a deleted_at field to the current time when you destroy a record, and hides it by scoping all queries on your model to only include records which do not have a deleted_at field.

If you wish to actually destroy an object you may call really_destroy!. WARNING: This will also really destroy all dependent: :destroy records, so please aim this method away from face when using.

If a record has has_many associations defined AND those associations have dependent: :destroy set on them, then they will also be soft-deleted if acts_as_paranoid is set, otherwise the normal destroy will be called.

Getting Started Video

Setup and basic usage of the paranoia gem GoRails #41

Installation & Usage

For Rails 3, please use version 1 of Paranoia:

gem "paranoia", "~> 1.0"

For Rails 4 and 5, please use version 2 of Paranoia (2.2 or greater required for rails 5):

gem "paranoia", "~> 2.2"

Of course you can install this from GitHub as well from one of these examples:

gem "paranoia", github: "rubysherpas/paranoia", branch: "rails3"
gem "paranoia", github: "rubysherpas/paranoia", branch: "rails4"
gem "paranoia", github: "rubysherpas/paranoia", branch: "rails5"

Then run:

bundle install

Updating is as simple as bundle update paranoia.

Run your migrations for the desired models


bin/rails generate migration AddDeletedAtToClients deleted_at:datetime:index

and now you have a migration

class AddDeletedAtToClients < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def change
    add_column :clients, :deleted_at, :datetime
    add_index :clients, :deleted_at


In your model:

class Client < ActiveRecord::Base

  # ...

Hey presto, it's there! Calling destroy will now set the deleted_at column:

>> client.deleted_at
# => nil
>> client.destroy
# => client
>> client.deleted_at
# => [current timestamp]

If you really want it gone gone, call really_destroy!:

>> client.deleted_at
# => nil
>> client.really_destroy!
# => client

If you want to use a column other than deleted_at, you can pass it as an option:

class Client < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_paranoid column: :destroyed_at


If you want to skip adding the default scope:

class Client < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_paranoid without_default_scope: true


If you want to access soft-deleted associations, override the getter method:

def product
  Product.unscoped { super }

If you want to include associated soft-deleted objects, you can (un)scope the association:

class Person < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :group, -> { with_deleted }


If you want to find all records, even those which are deleted:


If you want to exclude deleted records, when not able to use the default_scope (e.g. when using without_default_scope):


If you want to find only the deleted records:


If you want to check if a record is soft-deleted:

# or

If you want to restore a record:

# or

If you want to restore a whole bunch of records:

Client.restore([id1, id2, ..., idN])

If you want to restore a record and their dependently destroyed associated records:

Client.restore(id, :recursive => true)
# or
client.restore(:recursive => true)

For more information, please look at the tests.

About indexes:

Beware that you should adapt all your indexes for them to work as fast as previously. For example,

add_index :clients, :group_id
add_index :clients, [:group_id, :other_id]

should be replaced with

add_index :clients, :group_id, where: "deleted_at IS NULL"
add_index :clients, [:group_id, :other_id], where: "deleted_at IS NULL"

Of course, this is not necessary for the indexes you always use in association with with_deleted or only_deleted.

Unique Indexes

Because NULL != NULL in standard SQL, we can not simply create a unique index on the deleted_at column and expect it to enforce that there only be one record with a certain combination of values.

If your database supports them, good alternatives include partial indexes (above) and indexes on computed columns. E.g.

add_index :clients, [:group_id, 'COALESCE(deleted_at, false)'], unique: true

If not, an alternative is to create a separate column which is maintained alongside deleted_at for the sake of enforcing uniqueness. To that end, paranoia makes use of two method to make its destroy and restore actions: paranoia_restore_attributes and paranoia_destroy_attributes.

add_column :clients, :active, :boolean
add_index :clients, [:group_id, :active], unique: true

class Client < ActiveRecord::Base
  # optionally have paranoia make use of your unique column, so that
  # your lookups will benefit from the unique index
  acts_as_paranoid column: :active, sentinel_value: true

  def paranoia_restore_attributes
      deleted_at: nil,
      active: true

  def paranoia_destroy_attributes
      deleted_at: current_time_from_proper_timezone,
      active: nil

Acts As Paranoid Migration

You can replace the older acts_as_paranoid methods as follows:

Old Syntax New Syntax
find_with_deleted(:all) Client.with_deleted
find_with_deleted(:first) Client.with_deleted.first
find_with_deleted(id) Client.with_deleted.find(id)

The recover method in acts_as_paranoid runs update callbacks. Paranoia's restore method does not do this.


Paranoia provides several callbacks. It triggers destroy callback when the record is marked as deleted and real_destroy when the record is completely removed from database. It also calls restore callback when the record is restored via paranoia

For example if you want to index your records in some search engine you can go like this:

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base

  after_destroy      :update_document_in_search_engine
  after_restore      :update_document_in_search_engine
  after_real_destroy :remove_document_from_search_engine

You can use these events just like regular Rails callbacks with before, after and around hooks.


This gem is released under the MIT license.