Snapshots

A snapshot is a copy of the user, system and configuration data stored by snapd for one or more snaps on your system. This data can be found in $HOME/snap/<snap-name> and /var/snap/<snap-name> (see Data locations for more details).

Snapshots are generated manually with the snap save command and automatically when a snap is removed. A snapshot can be used to backup the state of your snaps, revert snaps to a previous state and to restore a fresh snapd installation to a previously saved state.


Generating a snapshot

The snap save command creates a snapshot for all installed snaps, or if declared individually, specific snaps:

$ sudo snap save
Set  Snap         Age    Version               Rev   Size   Notes
30   core         1.00s  16-2.37~pre1          6229   250B  -
30   core18       886ms  18                    543    123B  -
30   go           483ms  1.10.7                3092   387B  -
30   vlc          529ms  3.0.6                 770   882kB  -

Each snapshot has a unique ID, or revision, shown in the Set column above. This value is unique to each save operation, regardless of the number of snaps it includes. Age is the period of time since the snapshot was created, while Version and Rev refer to the specific snap at the time of the snapshot. Size is the amount of storage used by a snapshot.

ⓘ If you’d rather not wait for the save operation to complete before regaining access to your terminal, add the --no-wait argument.

You can see the state of your system’s snapshots with the snap saved command. Adding --id=<set/unique ID> allows you to query a specific snapshot:

$ snap saved --id=29
Set  Snap             Age    Version               Rev   Size   Notes
29   vlc              2h41m  3.0.6                 770   882kB  -

ⓘ Both the saved and check-snapshot commands accept a –users= option with a comma-separated list of users to filter on.

Verifying a snapshot

To verify the integrity of a snapshot, use the check-snapshot command:

$ sudo snap check-snapshot 30
Snapshot #30 verified successfully.

Exporting and importing a snapshot

By default, snapshots are maintained and stored on the system that created them. However, to help with backup and recovery, individual snapshots can also be exported and restored.

To export a snapshot, use the snap export-snapshot <set-id> <new-filename> command:

$ sudo snap export-snapshot 30 my-snapshot
Exported snapshot #30 into "my-snapshot"

The resultant snapshot file is a tar archive that contains two json files to validate the snapshot and a zip archive containing the user, system and configuration data for the specific revision of the snap installed when the snapshot was created.

To import a previously exported snap shot, use the snap import-snapshot command:

$ sudo snap import-snapshot mysnapshot
Imported snapshot as #30
Set  Snap  Age    Version  Rev   Size    Notes
30   vlc   3d02h  1.11.13  4286  255B  -

If the snapshot with the same snapshot identifier exists, the import will overwrite it. If the snapshot doesn’t exist, it will be imported and assigned a new snapshot identifier.

Restoring a snapshot

The restore command replaces the current user, system and configuration data with the corresponding data from the specified snapshot:

$ sudo snap restore 30
Restored snapshot #30.

By default, this command restores all the data for all the snaps in a snapshot. You can restore data for specific snaps by simply listing them after the command, and for specific users with the --users=<usernames> argument.

Excluding a snap’s system and configuration data from snap restore is not currently possible.

Deleting a snapshot

The forget command deletes a snapshot. This operation removes a snapshot from local storage and can not be undone:

$ sudo snap forget 30
Snapshot #30 forgotten.
$ snap saved --id=30
No snapshots found.

By default, this command deletes all the data for all the snaps in a snapshot. You can delete the data for specific snaps by listing them after the command.

Automatic snapshots

Apart from on Ubuntu Core devices, where the feature is disabled by default, a snapshot is generated automatically when a snap is removed. These snapshots are retained for 31 days before being deleted automatically.

To see which snapshots are generated automatically, look for auto in the Notes column output from snap saved:

$ snap saved
Set  Snap              Age    Version               Rev   Size   Notes
30   go                25d5h  1.10.7                3092   387B  -
30   vlc               25d0h  3.0.6                 770   882kB  -
31   vlc               529ms  3.0.6                 770   882kB  auto

As with manual snapshots, automatically generated snapshots can be manually deleted with snap forget <set-id>.

Automatic snapshot retention time is configured with the snapshots.automatic.retention system option. The value needs to be greater than 24 hours:

$ snap set system snapshots.automatic.retention=30h

To disable automatic snapshots, set the retention time to no:

$ snap set system snapshots.automatic.retention=no

Disabling automatic snapshots will not affect pre-existing automatically generated snapshots, only those generated by the removal of subsequent snaps.

Automatic snapshots require snap version 2.39+.

Inside a snapshot

Snapshots are stored as a zip file for each snap, and each zip file contains the following:

  • meta.json: describes the contents of the snapshot, alongside its configuration and checksums for the archives.
  • archive.tgz: contains system data.
  • user/<username>.tgz: contains any user data (for each system user).

On Ubuntu-based systems, snapshots are stored in the /var/lib/snapd/snapshots directory.

I might add that both subcommands “saved” and “check-snapshot” take the option “–users=” which accepts a comma-separated list of users to filter on.

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