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Actually, I don't care whether you talk about filesystems or any other thing that might be Quiesce'd in a software setting. I'm just looking for some more clarification about what this bit of technical jargon actually means.

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Have you looked at the wikipedia description:

Quiesce is used to describe pausing or altering the state of running processes on a computer, particularly those that might modify information stored on disk during a backup, in order to guarantee a consistent and usable backup.

So it is pausing to get the system in a state that can not only be backed up, but also successful restored. If processes just go on writing you might have the first half of a new file content, but not the second half in your backup.

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So, it's just about making some process be in an atomicly consistent state before and during the backup? –  chad Mar 10 at 17:11
    
@chad Most of the time it will, although e.g. a database process could be in an atomically consistent state that cannot be reproduced from a particular representation in its database formats. –  Anthon Mar 10 at 17:20

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