Choosing a storage snapshot tool

Clone It

Article from Issue 222/2019
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Experts agree that you should keep a copy of your data, but restoring from incremental backups takes time and sometimes doesn't work as expected. Alternatively, you can capture your data in a snapshot. Read on for a review of some leading Linux snapshot tools.

Modern operating systems often include more than 100,000 files. In the event of system crash, bringing a system back online by restoring from incremental backups can be a complex and time consuming task. Data may even get lost along the way, if you forgot to back up certain directories or if you only created incremental backups without performing the occasional full backup.

Snapshots are a fast alternative to incremental backups. A snapshot is a copy of the dataset frozen at a point in time. This article compares several snapshot tools, including Clonezilla [1], CYA [2], Partimage [3], qt-fsarchiver [4], and Snapper [5]. See the "Not Considered" box for a few tools that did not make the list.

Requirements

Snapshot software differs greatly from backup software. A snapshot usually includes a drive partition. Unlike conventional backup sets, this unit cannot be supplemented and accelerated by differential or incremental partial backups.

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