Blow away ZFS snapshots and watch the progress

For the last month I have had a testing system (FreeNAS) take ZFS snapshots of sample datasets every five minutes. As you can imagine, the snapshot count has risen quite dramatically. I am currently at over 12,000 snapshots.

In testing a backup script I’m working on I’ve discovered that replicating 12,000 snapshots takes a while. The initial data transfer completes in a reasonable time frame but copying each subsequent snapshot takes more time than the original data. Consequently, I decided to blow away all my snapshots. It took a while! I devised this fun little way to watch the progress.

Open two terminal windows. In terminal #1, enter the following:

while [ true ]; do zfs list -H -t snapshot | wc -l; sleep 6; done

The above loads BASH and the runs a simple loop to count the total number of snapshots on the system. The sleep command is only there because it takes a few seconds to return the results when you have more than 10,000 snapshots.

Alternatively you could make the output a little prettier by entering the following:

while [ true ]; do REMAINING="`zfs list -H -t snapshot | wc -l`"; echo "Snapshots remaining: $REMAINING" ; sleep 6; done

In terminal #2, enter the following (taken from here):

for snapshot in `zfs list -H -t snapshot | cut -f 1`
zfs destroy $snapshot

You can now hide terminal#2 and observe terminal #1. It will show you how many snapshots are left, refreshing the number every 6 seconds. Neat.

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