Snapshot Vs Backup: The Main Differences

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

In this article I will explain what snapshots and backups are, how they work and the difference between the two?


What is a Snapshot?

A snapshot is an image of your system/volume at a specific point in time.

The first snapshot is an exact copy of the given data volume. Subsequent snapshots store data blocks that have been changed or added in the meantime. It can perform versioning much faster than a traditional backup.


What is the purpose of the snapshot?

Snapshots are used for the version controls and a way to recover recently modified data. The new snapshots will override older ones and this is the reason, snapshots are not recommended for long term backups.


What is a Backup?

A backup is a copy of your entire system/volume at the time backup is performed.

Every time we backup our system, we create a complete replicate of it and backups are stored in different location than the original content.

Since backups are stored separately and have their own space, they are not set up to override each other. Therefore, this practice is perfect when you need to store data for longer periods of time.

As volumes can get quite large, the time it takes to back them up can also build up. While smaller backups take a couple of minutes, large system backups could take days to perform. It is for this reason, backups are not practical to use for versioning.


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