Testing snapshots in Apple’s next-gen APFS file system

“Back in June, Apple announced its new upcoming file system: APFS, or Apple File System,” Adam H. Leventhal reports for Ars Technica. “I myself badge-swapped my way into the [WWDC] conference just to get that first glimpse of Apple’s first original filesystem in the 30+ years since HFS.”

“Apple already appears to be making good on its promise with the revelation that the forthcoming iOS 10.3 will use APFS,” Leventhal reports. “With APFS taking the next step, I decided to check back in on snapshots.”

“Snapshot are going to be a powerful feature of APFS. Beyond creating snapshots, mounting them, and reverting volumes to earlier snapshots, they have the potential to form the basis for an efficient and robust backup systems,” Leventhal reports. “Apple (or a third party!) could arrange for snapshots to be taken periodically and then backup files changed between snapshots when a backup device is available. That could be a disk in your house or a cloud service from Apple, Dropbox, Google, or someone else. With its unknown utilities and unpublished APIs, Apple has already enabled a whole new collection of backup tools.”
Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s very encouraging to see the pace with which Apple is moving on APFS. Moving to a modern, unified file system across all devices will help Apple move faster, with fewer errors. A replacement for HFS+ is long overdue!

What you need to know about APFS, Apple’s next-gen file system for Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac – February 6, 2017
Apple’s iOS 10.3: A very, very important upgrade – January 25, 2017
APFS: What Apple’s new Apple File System means to you – June 24, 2016
APFS: New Apple File System promises more speed, flexibility, reliability – June 17, 2016
The feds’ll hate this: Apple’s new APFS file system ‘engineered with encryption as a primary feature’ – June 14, 2016
Buh-bye HFS+, hello APFS (Apple File System) for macOS! – June 14, 2016
Apple can do better than Sun’s ZFS – October 26, 2009
Apple discontinues ZFS project, turns attention to own next-gen file system – October 24, 2009
Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server’s ZFS goes MIA – June 9, 2009


  1. It has been written, when it comes to file systems you do not want to be an early adopter. Let the bugs get hashed out first. However realizing we mostly have no choice when keeping up to date on iOS, I am under the impression, Apple has a lot of faith in the new system.

    The benefit of snapshotting, is emence. It offers an unsumountable level of protection against viruses, or at least stepping back from an infection.

    Code signing boot straps protect against root kits.

    The game isn’t over by a long shot, but we are headed in a good direction.

    1. CCC is not what they are talking about. (Not the same thing you are referring to) CCC does mass movement of data and differential, at the file level. Snapshots are instantaneous at binary/partition level.

      Imagine – a snapshot is your whole partition, minus unallocated space, frozen. All future changes are written to a new location/partition. What you see on the surface is all the changes. But underneath it’s two separate data pots before and after the snapshot. This way if you need/want to revert back, you can. If you want to merge and delete the snapshot, it will just combine both into one and you are then committed – no undo. With snapshots you can have more than one. You can keep multiple branches and switch between them, however it gets quite compacted really fast. It’s recommended you don’t have more than one snapshot and not for a long time. The reason being, commuting the changes takes longer, the further out you go.

      If you work with VMware it’s very familiar. I use it to aid in full system backups in addition to test patching prior to committing and OS updates. Complete CYA life saver.

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