Incremental snapshot mechanism

Last Updated: May 22, 2018

An incremental method is used to take snapshots on Alibaba Cloud. In this method, two snapshots are compared and only the data that has changed is copied. See the following figure.

IncrementalPrincipal

In the preceding figure, Snapshot 1, Snapshot 2, and Snapshot 3 are the first, second, and third snapshots of a disk. The file system checks the disk data by blocks. When a snapshot is created, only the blocks with changed data are copied to the snapshot. In this example:

  1. In Snapshot 1, all data on the disk is copied because it is the first disk snapshot.

  2. Snapshot 2 only copies the changed data blocks B1 and C1. Data blocks, A and D, are referenced from Snapshot 1.

  3. Snapshot 3 copies the changed data block B2 but references data blocks, A, D, from Snapshot 1, and references C1 from Snapshot 2.

When you roll back the disk to Snapshot 3, blocks A, B2, C1, and D are copied to the disk, to replicate Snapshot 3.

When you delete Snapshot 2, block B1 is deleted, but block C1 is retained because blocks that are referenced by other snapshots cannot be deleted. When you roll back a disk to Snapshot 3, block C1 is recovered.

Creation time

Snapshot creation time varies depending on actual volume to be copied. It takes long time to create the first snapshot of a disk, because the snapshot copies the global data. Then only the blocks with changed data are copied to a snapshot, which consumes shorter time.

Influence of snapshot creation

When snapshot creation is in progress, the performance of a disk is reduced.

Snapshot chains

A snapshot chain contains all snapshots of a disk. Each disk has one snapshot chain, and the snapshot chain ID is identical to the disk ID. A snapshot chain has the following information:

  • Snapshot quantity: The number of existing snapshots of a disk.

  • Snapshot capacity: The storage space that all the snapshots in the chain occupy.

  • Snapshot quota: Each disk has a maximum of 64 snapshots. Therefore, each chain can have up to 64 snapshots, including manual and automatic snapshots.

    Note: When the snapshot quota is exceeded, if more automatic snapshots are to be created, the automatic snapshots are deleted automatically in a chronological order; if you want to create more snapshots manually, delete unnecessary snapshots manually. For more information, see Apply an automatic snapshot policy to a disk and Delete a snapshot.

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