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I'm planning on purchasing a virtual-dedicated server today and would like to pass a quick question by the community here before I do. I'm likely going to be getting CentOS, as that seems to be a pretty stable, and popular distro from what I can tell.

One of the companies I contacted (MediaTemple) mentioned they provide snapshots just incase I start doing something that could potentially cripple my server - I could always restore the last snapshot. Another company (GoDaddy) said they would provide routine snapshots once a day, week, or month and back it up to a remote FTP for me to download.

My question is this, is the "snapshot" capability provided in the OS itself? I'm not super-confident in my abilities yet to manage a server, so this functionality would be very attractive. Or, do I need to pick a host that provides this as an extra addon to the already rendered services?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Snapshot functionality is going to depend on the architecture utilized by the host for the virtual server. VMWare has the ability to snapshot as does Xen and KVM. A popular solution is to use disk snapshots as well be it via LVM or a more expensive hardware storage solution. This solution would likely be the quickest and least painful way to restore quickly in case of error.

Godaddy archiving to a remote site via FTP or network protocol is likely to be less comprehensive and may require manual action in case of issue. This sounds more like a classic backup solution. Unencrypted transfer could risk your data as well.

Ultimately, the provider will need to detail exactly what feature-set is provided by their backup solutions.

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There's are lots of ways to snapshot volumes from within a Linux install. What is not usually possible is snapshoting the root filesystem of the install you're running on. (though Fedora is apparantly testing this feature using btrfs for release with Fedora 13).

The providers you contacted can offer this snapshot feature to you since the "machine" you get to administer is actually a virtual machine on their servers. You could run a virtual machine within your CentOS install for testing purposes and run snapshots on it, but I doubt you want to be trying to figure this out as a beginner.

So to answer your question: the snapshot feature GoDaddy etc. offered you is a good idea and I'd go for it.

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