Storage snapshots are among the best data protection features that any server or storage platform can offer. The ability to quickly and easily roll back to a previous point in time without pulling out a tape or copying data puts a healthy distance between you and disaster.
Yet the term "snapshot" has come to mean many different things -- and not all snapshot mechanisms are created equal. So let's look at what snapshots can and can't do, with some cautionary verses about pitfalls along the way.
Snapshots to the rescue
The starkest example of how snapshots can help is in a data corruption. Let's say your organization runs a large Microsoft Exchange implementation (although for this example, any complex database will do). Exchange database corruption is far less common than it was in the dark ages of Exchange 5.5 and 2000, but it still happens, and it's universally reviled as one of the most infuriating and time-consuming failures to remedy.