FreeBSD offers a feature in conjunction with Soft Updates: file system snapshots.
UFS snapshots allow a user to create images of specified file systems, and treat them as a file. Snapshot files must be created in the file system that the action is performed on, and a user may create no more than 20 snapshots per file system. Active snapshots are recorded in the superblock so they are persistent across unmount and remount operations along with system reboots. When a snapshot is no longer required, it can be removed using rm(1). While snapshots may be removed in any order, all the used space may not be acquired because another snapshot will possibly claim some of the released blocks.
Snapshots are created using mount(8). To place a
/var in the
/var/snapshot/snap, use the following
mount -u -o snapshot /var/snapshot/snap /var
Alternatively, use mksnap_ffs(8) to create the snapshot:
mksnap_ffs /var /var/snapshot/snap
One can find snapshot files on a file system, such as
find /var -flags snapshot
Once a snapshot has been created, it has several uses:
Some administrators will use a snapshot file for backup purposes, because the snapshot can be transferred to CDs or tape.
The file system integrity checker, fsck(8), may be run on the snapshot. Assuming that the file system was clean when it was mounted, this should always provide a clean and unchanging result.
Running dump(8) on the snapshot will produce a dump file that is consistent with the file system and the timestamp of the snapshot. dump(8) can also take a snapshot, create a dump image, and then remove the snapshot in one command by using
The snapshot can be mounted as a frozen image of the file system. To mount(8) the snapshot
mdconfig -a -t vnode -o readonly -f /var/snapshot/snap -u 4
mount -r /dev/md4 /mnt
/var is now available
/mnt. Everything will initially be
in the same state it was during the snapshot creation time. The
only exception is that any earlier snapshots will appear as zero
length files. To unmount the snapshot, use:
mdconfig -d -u 4
For more information about
file system snapshots, including technical papers, visit
Marshall Kirk McKusick's website at