A disk snapshot is a snap in time, a picture of what a disk looked like “back then”. This can be very useful for maintenance.
For example, being able to freeze a Caché instance, take a disk snapshot, then thaw the Caché instance will permit you to take backups or copies of a Caché database with minimal downtime.
For HP-UX Online JFS and Veritas VxFS the commands are the same (since these are actually the same product – or close to it). To actually do a snapshot:
mount -F vxfs -o snapof=/var/cache/db /dev/snap01 /snap
The first file system presented in the command line is key: it is the source of the snapshot. Note that it can be either a device or a current mount point. The second (device) is a filesystem prepared to hold a snapshot, and the last is the usual mount point.
Once this is done, the normal filesystem can continue to be used while the snapshot retains the older data as it was taken. In the example above, /var/cache/db could be used normally while the snapshot resides on /snap. If there was a directory /var/cache/db/db01 then there would also be a /snap/db01 available as well.
One caveat is that as long as the snapshot is mounted and in use, the changes to the original filesystem are being saved – it is possible that the snapshot volume can run out of space. When this happens, you will receive what may appear to be mysterious disk full errors unless you realize what is happening. So don’t keep your snapshots around forever.