The Miracle Of Snapper

Yesterday I was talking to a couple people on the #suse irc channel (freenode) about btrfs and what its benefits are over ext4. There are quite a few, but the one that really stood out for me was the ability of btrfs to make snapshots. I searched around a bit and found that the tool to manage backups is called Snapper. What this tool essentially allows is for the administrator not only restore a snapshot but view what changes were made. You can even make a diff between a snapshot and the current system. How cool is that? Now on openSUSE, YaST can have a Snapper module so of course I had to try it out. What is really awesome about this is whenever a change is made to the system using YaST or zypper, Snapper makes a snapshot of the system before and after the change so that if something goes wrong, you can revert back to it safely.

Snapper

When we open up one of the snapshots, we get a nice diff that tells us exactly what files were changed and what inside them was edited (obviously assuming they are not binary files). This is extremely useful because if you understand the configuration files, you are able to easily rollback changes made on a filesystem level. No longer do you have to manually restore backups for every little mistake you or your colleagues make. You can simply rollback to a previous working version.

Changes

To further demonstrate the power of snapper please watch these videos (they are from the snapper website). They show a real world example of how this would be useful to not just system administrators but to users who wish to undo fatal mistakes that they made.

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