46. Snapshot from the world of cryptocurrencies – what is it?
A snapshot – Its definition is simple. It is the ability to record the state of something at a particular time. In terms of the blockchain, a snapshot is the documentation of the state of a chain at a specific height at a certain time. It is used to track the overall quantity and balance between token holders. A snapshot can be taken at any time.
Interpretation of snapshots in general
Taking snapshots is very similar to taking photographs. The difference is that with blockchain technology, we take a snapshot of the data at a specific time. Snapshots are not a complete duplicate of the data. They are largely metadata that define a particular state of the information. They can be stored on the local server or the device on which they were created.
Imagine a situation like this. We are testing a new application or programme. New settings or data entered may compromise the application in question. Snapshots are often used for such purposes. They allow access to an almost infinite number of data clones. In this way, they improve and enable developers to work on the development of a particular application without exposing it to possible damage.
Snapshots can also be used to fully automate the work. They also don’t take up much extra storage space. Snapshots are also a great failsafe. If something goes wrong, you can restore the server in question to the point where the error occurred. This is why snapshots are so widely used. Every time we take a snapshot, we create a backup.
At this point, you might tell us – why do I need snapshots when I can make a full backup of the data I need! Well, yes. However, remember that it takes hours to create a full copy. For enterprise systems, these are usually created overnight to make full use of the system resources required. Snapshots, on the other hand, can be created at any time. And as often as you need. In addition, you can deduplicate the data covered by the snapshot, e.g. using other technologies such as Modified Block Tracking.
Reminder We can only store snapshots for a limited period of time. If you do not handle it properly, you can create incredibly complex data chains with extremely long consolidation times.
The paragraph above deals with snapshots in a more general way. In the case of blockchain technology, remember again that a snapshot is a record of the state of a blockchain, at the time of a specific block height. A snapshot captures the entire, ledger of the blockchain, including all existing addresses and associated data.
Snapshots during airdrops
We have written here about airdrops [LINK-WHAT AN AIRDROP CRYPTOWALUT-INTRODUCTORY LEVEL]. Take a look at this lesson before you continue.
Before each airdrop, snapshots are practically always taken. The tokens in the snapshots are distributed based on the balance of each blockchain address that was currently available during the snapshot period.
Snapshots are intended to record the balance of each token holder at a specific point in time, i.e. the block height. The user can shift his balance at any time after the snapshot without jeopardizing it in any way. This also does not prevent him from qualifying for a payout round.
Equally important, snapshots are taken during hard forks of the blockchain. Snapshots then mark the height of the block where the main chain is stored before a new chain is created. For example, in August 2017, when the Bitcoin Cash hard fork took place, the balance of every address that had Bitcoin in block 478,558 was copied to the Bitcoin Cash chain. Why? Because the two blockchains shared the same historical data. After the fork, each became an independent chain.
Another use of snapshots is to save the coin balances of users who want to participate in the Initial Exchange Offering (IEO).
However, you need to know that special rules apply to snapshots. They depend on the guidelines of the individual projects. In some cases, snapshots are taken at random times and users’ balances are averaged on this basis.
Blockchain technology is developing rapidly. Platforms that use it for their operations need to adapt to it at lightning speed. Snapshots are one such solution to keep up with the pace. Now that you know what they are, you can boldly move on to the next lesson!