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A storage snapshot can be defined as a set of pointers to denote the data stored on a storage device. This storage device could be a disk drive, a tape or storage area network (SAN). It can be thought of as a table of contents with each pointer describing the information or data stored on the disk. This snapshot is treated by the computer as a complete backup of data.
Just like a table of contents provides easy access to the contents in a book, a storage snapshot provides easy access to stored data and further speeds up the data recovery process.
A storage snapshot provides a concise look at how a file or device looked when the snapshot was taken. It is not the exact replica of data, rather just a quick picture of how data looked at that particular instant.
Storage snapshots can be classified into three types: copy-on-write snapshot, redirect-on-write and split-mirror snapshot: