Causality-Based Versioning


Versioning file systems provide the ability to recover from a variety of failures, including file corruption, virus and worm infestations, and user mistakes. However, using versions to recover from data-corrupting events requires a human to determine precisely which files and versions to restore. We can create more meaningful versions and enhance the value of those versions by capturing the causal connections among files, facilitating selection and recovery of precisely the right versions after data corrupting events. We determine when to create new versions of files automatically using the causal relationships among files. The literature on versioning file systems usually examines two extremes of possible version-creation algorithms: open-to-close versioning and versioning on every write. We evaluate causal versions of these two algorithms and introduce two additional causality-based algorithms: Cycle-Avoidance and Graph-Finesse. We show that capturing and maintaining causal relationships imposes less than 7% overhead on a versioning system, providing benefit at low cost. We then show that Cycle-Avoidance provides more meaningful versions of files created during concurrent program execution, with overhead comparable to open/close versioning. Graph-Finesse provides even greater control, frequently at comparable overhead, but sometimes at unacceptable overhead. Versioning on every write is an interesting extreme case, but is far too costly to be useful in practice.

DOI: 10.1145/1629080.1629083
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@article{MuniswamyReddy2009CausalityBasedV, title={Causality-Based Versioning}, author={Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy and David A. Holland}, journal={TOS}, year={2009}, volume={5}, pages={13:1-13:28} }