Soft Deletion in Entity Framework Core


Database management often involves the deletion of data. However, there may be instances where permanently removing data is not the best option. This is where soft deletion comes in handy. Soft deletion entails marking records as "deleted" instead of physically eliminating them from the database. This approach offers a variety of advantages, such as maintaining data integrity, simplifying data recovery, and complying with regulatory requirements.

When working with Entity Framework Core (EF Core), it is crucial to consider and implement soft deletion with care to ensure that it integrates seamlessly with your application's architecture. In this article, we will delve into the concept of soft deletion and illustrate how to implement it effectively with EF Core.

Understanding Soft Deletion

Soft deletion is a technique where instead of deleting records from the database, you flag them as deleted by setting a specific column value. This typically involves adding a boolean column, commonly named "IsDeleted," to your database tables. When an entity is marked as deleted, it remains in the database but is excluded from regular queries, effectively hiding it from normal operations while preserving its data.

Benefits of Soft Deletion

  1. Data Integrity: Soft deletion helps maintain data integrity by retaining historical information. It allows you to track changes over time and ensures referential integrity within your database.
  2. Auditing and Compliance: Soft deletion supports auditing requirements and compliance standards by preserving deleted records, enabling organizations to maintain a complete audit trail.
  3. Recovery: In scenarios where data is accidentally deleted or needs to be restored, soft deletion simplifies the recovery process. Since the data is not permanently removed, it can be easily restored to its original state.

Implementing Soft Deletion with EF Core

To implement soft deletion with EF Core, follow these steps:

  1. Add a Soft Delete Column: Start by adding an "IsDeleted" column to your database tables. This column will indicate whether an entity has been deleted or not.
  2. Update Entity Configuration: Configure EF Core to automatically filter out deleted entities from queries. This can be achieved using global query filters.
  3. Override SaveChanges Method: Override the SaveChanges method in your DbContext to ensure that entities marked as deleted are updated accordingly before saving changes to the database.
  4. Handle Cascade Deletion: If your database schema includes relationships between entities, ensure that soft deletion cascades properly to related entities. This typically involves updating navigation properties and handling cascading delete behaviour.

Example Implementation

Let's consider an example where we have a "Product" entity with soft deletion enabled:

public class Product
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public bool IsDeleted { get; set; }

public class ApplicationContext : DbContext
    public DbSet<Product> Products { get; set; }

    protected override void OnModelCreating(ModelBuilder modelBuilder)
        modelBuilder.Entity<Product>().HasQueryFilter(p => !p.IsDeleted);

    public override int SaveChanges()
        foreach (var entry in ChangeTracker.Entries()
            .Where(e => e.State == EntityState.Deleted && e.Entity is BaseEntity))
            entry.State = EntityState.Modified;
            entry.CurrentValues["IsDeleted"] = true;
        return base.SaveChanges();

In this example, the "Product" entity has an "IsDeleted" property, and the ApplicationContext class configures a global query filter to exclude deleted products from queries. Additionally, the SaveChanges method is overridden to handle soft deletion by modifying the EntityState of deleted entities.


Soft deletion is a valuable technique for managing data in your application, offering benefits such as data integrity, compliance, and easier data recovery. By implementing soft deletion with EF Core, you can seamlessly integrate this functionality into your application, ensuring that deleted data is retained while maintaining database performance and integrity. With careful consideration and proper implementation, soft deletion can enhance the robustness and maintainability of your application's data management capabilities.

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