Amazon EBS allows you to create storage volumes and attach them to Amazon EC2 instances. Once attached, you can create a file system on top of these volumes, run a database, or use them in any other way you would use a block device. Amazon EBS volumes are placed in a specific Availability Zone, where they are automatically replicated to protect you from the failure of a single component.

Amazon EBS provides three volume types: General Purpose (SSD), Provisioned IOPS (SSD), and Magnetic. The three volume types differ in performance characteristics and cost, so you can choose the right storage performance and price for the needs of your applications. All EBS volume types offer the same durable snapshot capabilities and are designed for 99.999% availability.

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Volume Type EBS General Purpose (SSD) EBS Provisioned IOPS (SSD) EBS Magnetic
Use Cases

Boot volumes

Small to Med DBs

Dev and Test

I/O intensive

Relational DBs


Infrequent Data Access
Storage Media SSD-backed SSD-backed Magnetic disk-backed
Max Volume Size 16 TB 16 TB 1 TB
Max IOPS/volume 10,000 20,000 40 - 200
Max IOPS Burst Performance 3,000 for volumes <= 1 TB - Hundreds
Max throughput/volume 160 MB/sec 320 MB/sec 40 - 90 MB/sec
Max IOPS/instance 48,000 48,000 48,000
Max throughput/instance 800 MB/sec 800 MB/sec 800 MB/sec
API Name gp2 io1 standard
Price* $.10/GB - Month

$.125/GB - Month

$.065/provisioned IOPS

$.05/GB - Month

$.05/million I/O

*Prices shown in US East (N Virginia)

General Purpose (SSD) volumes are the default EBS volume type for Amazon EC2 instances. General Purpose (SSD) volumes are backed by Solid-State Drives (SSDs) and are suitable for a broad range of workloads, including small to medium-sized databases, development and test environments, and boot volumes. General Purpose (SSD) volumes are designed to offer single digit millisecond latencies, deliver a consistent baseline performance of 3 IOPS/GB to a maximum of 10,000 IOPS, and provide up to 160 MBps of throughput per volume. General Purpose (SSD) volumes smaller than 1 TB can also burst up to 3,000 IOPS. I/O is included in the price of General Purpose (SSD) volumes, so you pay only for each GB of storage you provision.

If you need a greater number of IOPS than General Purpose (SSD) volumes provide, or if you have a workload where performance consistency or latency is critical, we recommend that you use Amazon EBS Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes.

Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes are backed by Solid-State Drives (SSDs) and suitable for applications with I/O-intensive workloads such as databases.

Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes are designed to offer single digit millisecond latencies, deliver a consistent baseline performance of up to 30 IOPS/GB to a maximum of 20,000 IOPS, and provide up to 320 MBps of throughput per volume. Additionally, you can stripe multiple volumes together to achieve up to 48,000 IOPS or 800MBps when attached to larger EC2 instances.

To maximize the benefit of Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes, we recommend using EBS-optimized EC2 instances. When attached to EBS-optimized instances, Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes can achieve single-digit millisecond latencies and are designed to deliver the provisioned performance 99.9% of the time. For more information about instance types that can be launched as EBS-optimized instances, see Amazon EC2 Instance Types.

For more information about Amazon EBS performance guidelines, see Increasing EBS Performance.

Magnetic volumes provide the lowest cost per GB of all EBS volume types. Magnetic volumes are backed by magnetic drives and are ideal for workloads where data is accessed infrequently, and scenarios where the lowest storage cost is important. Magnetic volumes provide approximately 100 IOPS on average, with an ability to burst to hundreds of IOPS.

If you need a greater number of IOPS or higher performance than what a Magnetic volume will provide, we recommend that you consider Amazon EBS General Purpose (SSD) or Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes.

Amazon EBS provides the ability to save point-in-time snapshots of your volumes to Amazon S3. Amazon EBS Snapshots are stored incrementally: only the blocks that have changed after your last snapshot are saved, and you are billed only for the changed blocks. If you have a device with 100 GB of data but only 5 GB has changed after your last snapshot, a subsequent snapshot consumes only 5 additional GB and you are billed only for the additional 5 GB of snapshot storage, even though both the earlier and later snapshots appear complete.

When you delete a snapshot, you remove only the data not needed by any other snapshot. All active snapshots contain all the information needed to restore the volume to the instant at which that snapshot was taken. The time to restore changed data to the working volume is the same for all snapshots.

Snapshots can be used to instantiate multiple new volumes, expand the size of a volume, or move volumes across Availability Zones. When a new volume is created, you may choose to create it based on an existing Amazon EBS snapshot. In that scenario, the new volume begins as an exact replica of the snapshot.

The following are key features of Amazon EBS Snapshots:

  • Immediate access to Amazon EBS volume data - After a volume is created from a snapshot, there is no need to wait for all of the data to transfer from Amazon S3 to your Amazon EBS volume before your attached instance can start accessing the volume. Amazon EBS Snapshots implement lazy loading, so that you can begin using them right away.
  • Resizing Amazon EBS volumes - When you create a new Amazon EBS volume based on a snapshot, you may specify a larger size for the new volume. Make certain that your file system or application supports resizing a device.
  • Sharing Amazon EBS Snapshots - Amazon EBS Snapshots’ shareability makes it easy for you to share data with your co-workers or others in the AWS community. Authorized users can create their own Amazon EBS volumes based on your Amazon EBS shared snapshots; your original snapshot remains intact. If you choose, you can also make your data available publicly to all AWS users. For more information about how to share snapshots, see Modifying Snapshot Permissions.  
  • Copying Amazon EBS Snapshots across AWS regions - Amazon EBS’s ability to copy snapshots across AWS regions makes it easier to leverage multiple AWS regions for geographical expansion, data center migration and disaster recovery. You can copy any snapshot accessible to you: snapshots you created; snapshots shared with you; and snapshots from the AWS Marketplace, VM Import/Export, and AWS Storage Gateway. For more information, see Copying an Amazon EBS Snapshot.

For an additional low, hourly fee, customers can launch certain Amazon EC2 instance types as EBS-optimized instances. EBS-optimized instances enable EC2 instances to fully use the IOPS provisioned on an EBS volume.

EBS-optimized instances deliver dedicated throughput between Amazon EC2 and Amazon EBS, with options between 500 and 4,000 Megabits per second (Mbps) depending on the instance type used. The dedicated throughput minimizes contention between Amazon EBS I/O and other traffic from your EC2 instance, providing the best performance for your EBS volumes.

EBS-optimized instances are designed for use with all Amazon EBS volume types.

For more information about the instance types that can be launched as EBS-Optimized instances, see Amazon EC2 Instance Types.

Amazon EBS volumes are designed to be highly available and reliable. At no additional charge to you, Amazon EBS volume data is replicated across multiple servers in an Availability Zone to prevent the loss of data from the failure of any single component. For more details, see the Amazon EC2 and EBS Service Level Agreement.

Amazon EBS volumes are designed for an annual failure rate (AFR) of between 0.1% - 0.2%, where failure refers to a complete or partial loss of the volume, depending on the size and performance of the volume. This makes EBS volumes 20 times more reliable than typical commodity disk drives, which fail with an AFR of around 4%. EBS also supports a snapshot feature, which is a good way to take point-in-time backups of your data.

To learn more about Amazon EBS Snapshots and how to take point-in time backups of your volumes please visit here.

Amazon EBS encryption offers seamless encryption of EBS data volumes, boot volumes and snapshots, eliminating the need to build and manage a secure key management infrastructure. EBS encryption enables data at rest security by encrypting your data volumes, boot volumes and snapshots using Amazon-managed keys or keys you create and manage using the AWS Key Management Service (KMS). In addition, the encryption occurs on the servers that host EC2 instances, providing encryption of data as it moves between EC2 instances and EBS data and boot volumes. For more information, see Amazon EBS encryption in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

Access to Amazon EBS volumes is integrated with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). IAM enables access control to your Amazon EBS volumes. For more information, see AWS Identity and Access Management.

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