ZFS snapshot on FreeBSD

A very nice way to do a live backup of your server/work station is with ZFS snapshots, of course, if you use ZFS.
You can send a snapshot to: a file, the local system, via ssh, via netcat and who know what else.
I’m going to cover how to do incremental snapshots to your local system using a USB drive.
To do zfs snapshot, zfs send & zfs receive  you are going to need elevated permissions. Always be extremely careful with ZFS operations because you can easily destroy all of your data! The following commands worked for me but might not work for you, alway be sure before you execute a command, do NOT copy&paste them from here.

  • Connect the drive, look what’s coming up in /var/log/messages. Let’ say is da0
  • Check the disk and create a new zpool

diskinfo -v /dev/da0
zpool create backup_pool /dev/da0

    • Now let’s see if the pool is available
      zpool import
      Then import it
      zpool import backup_pool
  • Let’s take a snapshot of a single dataset or an entire pool we want to backup
    zfs snapshot zroot/files@20180410  – snapshot only files dataset
    zfs snapshot -r zroot@20180410 – recursive snapshot of zroot pool
  • Send the snapshot, do this from a terminal multiplexor such as tmux or screen, when you do something like this always do a dry run first “-n”. Depends on the size of the dataset or pool, it can take hours or days or more.
    zfs send -v zroot/files@20180410| zfs receive -vun zbackup/files@20180410
    zfs send -vR zroot@20180411 | zfs receive -vu zbackup/zroot_20180411
    • To do an incremental snapshot, do not remove the original snapshot from the system, create a new then send it, with incremental snapshots you can save a lot of time because it will only send the differences
      zfs send -vi zroot/files@20180410 zroot/files@new_snapshot | zfs receive -vnuF zbackup/files
      zfs send -viR zroot@20180410 zroot@new_snapshot| sudo zfs receive -vnuF zbackup/zroot
  • Check if the snapshots are there
    zfs list -t snapshot
  • To remove the USB drive
    zpool export zbackup
    Do a zpool status to check if indeed was removed

FreeBSD ZFS manual: https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?zfs
FreeBSD ZPOOL manual https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?zpool
FReeBSD GPART manual: https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?gpart

There are dedicated tools as well to do backups and more with zfs, one of them is: zxfer

To be continued…

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