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I'm using rsnapshot for backups. Currently that means every time an update runs (even without any data difference) I get a copy of ~100M of only the directory structure + inode list. The files are almost exclusively hardlinks.

The potential problem is that the initial copy of the backup takes ~2 minutes per each backed up destination, while the following rsync takes only seconds. Is there any way to speed it up? The current filesystem is ext4 - are there any others that would be much faster at this task?

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Try using a filesystem that supports snapshots natively: either ZFS or Btrfs. Then you can create snapshots instead of hardlinked copies of the directory structure. Snapshots are instantaneous.

Both ZFS and Btrfs have drawbacks though: ZFS isn't implemented in the Linux kernel so it requires fuse, and Btrfs is still in development. If it's for backups though, you might be prepared to tolerate the performance and complexity cost of ZFS or the risk of bugs and rough edges with Btrfs.

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This backup just saved me today from btrfs completely melting down on my disk... so let's say I'm going to skip it. zfs/fuse - I'm not sure it would be as safe as native ones - can I trust it more than btrfs? – viraptor Apr 25 '12 at 22:36
Re: btrfs: touché Re: ZFS: I can't say, I haven't used it. – Celada Apr 26 '12 at 0:16

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