Data deletion: Delete instance

Use this action to delete a completed run and its data, including related tasks, files, and data tables. This action can complement a scheduled data retention policy.

To preserve important files or tables that are part of a run, but still delete all other data, use the Data deletion: Save files and Data deletion: Save tables actions.

Use case

Use this action as part of a GDPR or privacy compliance process to manage stored data. For larger data retention initiatives, applying a data retention policy is the easiest way to manage data and delete all past instances.

If you have a process where only select instances must be deleted, such as if a user selects “Delete my data”, or where data must be deleted in only specific situations, but not for all instances, this action can be used on a case by case basis.

How to configure this action

This action cannot delete instances that are less than 3 hours old. In other words, you cannot immediately delete a completed run with this action. For that reason, it’s advised to create a data deletion Helper Workflow with a 3 hour delay.

This delay ensures all related processes and subprocesses are able to finish.

If required, you can retrieve the run ID manually. It is always recommended to reference a field with the run ID when possible.

How to find a run’s ID

First, find the instance from the instance detail page. It is easiest to find this by selecting a Workflow from a list of Workflows, then selecting the instance.

From there, the ID is available at the end of the URL. For, the run ID is a526b85f-57a3-4a9a-ad14-8d0dfcedcca3

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Fields for this action

  • Run ID

  • Require strict delete

    • For some older instances, related tables and files cannot be deleted at this time. If not all tables and files related to this instance can be deleted:
      • Select True: A fix task will be created if not all tables and files can be deleted, and the instance will not be deleted.
      • Select False: The instance will be deleted even if some related tables and files can not be deleted. These data tables and files are still accessible, but only if a user has a direct link to the object, and permission to view it.
  • Output Field Prefix

    • To help keep output fields organized, choose an output field prefix to add to the beginning of each output field name as this action may output more than one field.
    • The step’s name is used as the prefix by default.

For more, see How does require strict delete work? How do I delete an object this action cannot delete?.

What will this output?

This action will delete the run, then output two fields with the count of how many tables or files were saved from a prior save tables or save files action.

The Output field prefix above will be added to the beginning of each of the output field names, separated by two dashes. Each field will result as:{{output-field-name--output-field}}

Output fields for this action

  • Number of Tables Saved

    • An integer count of the number of tables previously saved by the save tables action.
  • Number of Files Saved

    • An integer count of the number of files previously saved by the save files action.

Get help with a problem or question

If something’s not working as expected, or you’re looking for suggestions, check through the options below.

How do I access saved files/tables after a run is deleted?

It is important to save or backup the IDs of any saved files or tables. Once an instance is deleted, saved objects may be hard to relocate.

You should automate backing up these saved object IDs using actions like Tables: Add a row. For example, immediately after using either Save files or Save tables, add the saved IDs as a new row in a table.

To access a saved table or file ID, navigate to them directly using a URL.

  • For tables, add the table ID to the following URL: https://{{yourteam}}{{your-table-id}}/
  • For files, add the file ID to the following URL: https://{{yourteam}}{{your-table-id}}/download
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By default, is my data saved or deleted?

By default, Catalytic saves all instance data—no run data, such as files or tables, are deleted automatically. In most cases, the Delete instance, Save files and Save tables actions are not necessary.

But if your team or company has any privacy rules or requirements, a data retention policy, or processes that use the Data retention: Delete instance action to delete old data may be necessary.

Is there a difference between a run and an instance?

Runs and instances are the same thing. The words are used interchangeably and both refer to Workflow instances. Having two words is helpful in different situations to help explain the concept.

How does require strict delete work? How do I delete an object this action cannot delete?

The Require strict delete field configuration is necessary because, on older Workflows, some tables and files are not correctly associated and can’t be reliably deleted. If you have objects you need to delete, you can use our Web API actions to delete them manually.

Manually deleting individual objects

These steps use the Web API: Send Delete Request to make an API call to delete specific files.

✅   Heads-up: Deleting objects this way cannot be undone, always test to make sure you are deleting the correct objects.

  1. Create a table with each run you want to delete object data from. The rows should all have a common field where the object ID is stored.
  2. Add the Tables: Start Workflow for each row action. This will let us iterate through each row of the table, and perform an action on each run.

Troubleshoot fix tasks

If you encounter any fix tasks when using this action, check some of the resolutions to common fix tasks below.

Fix Task: “Run X has not tracked files and tables it has created, and cannot be fully deleted …””

This fix task indicates that some tables or files associated with the run could not be deleted. This happens for older runs created before this action was added, which means we cannot safely delete the object because we are not sure if this run owns it.

  • If you do not need to delete all files: choose False for Require strict delete. The instance will be deleted even if some related tables and files can not be deleted. These data tables and files are still accessible, but only if a user has a direct link to the object, and permission to view it.

  • If you do need to delete all files: see Manually deleting individual objects for a way to delete the objects this action cannot delete.

Fix Task: “Completed runs cannot be deleted until they are 3 hours old”

If you receive this fix task, it means the run you tried to delete was less than 3 hours old. We impose this rule as a minimum to make sure that any accompanying processes or subprocesses are able to complete as scheduled.

To work around the 3 hour delay, check How to set the timing of a task to delay a Delete instance action for 3 hours.

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