Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances enable you to maintain the benefits of elastic computing while lowering costs and reserving capacity.
With Reserved Instances you pay a low, one-time fee and in turn receive a significant discount on the hourly charge for that instance. Reserved
Instances can provide substantial savings over owning your own hardware or running only On-Demand instances as well as help assure that the
capacity you need is available to you when required.
This page contains the following categories of information. Click to jump down:
Term: AWS offers Reserved Instances for 1 or 3 year terms. Reserved Instance Marketplace Sellers also offer
Reserved Instances that have all the same operating qualities as AWS’s Reserved Instances, but terms that can range from 1 month to 36 months
(depending on available selection).
Utilization: Reserved Instances are available in three different types: Light, Medium, and Heavy Utilization
that enable you to balance the amount you pay upfront with your effective hourly price.
Region: Reserved Instances are available in all AWS regions. Reserved Instances are also available in Amazon
VPC and Dedicated Instances.
Operating System: Reserved Instances can be purchased for Amazon EC2 running Linux/UNIX, SUSE Linux, Red Hat
Enterprise Linux, Microsoft Windows Server, and Microsoft SQL Server platforms.
Modifiable: If your needs change, you can request to move your Reserved
Instance to another Availability Zone within the same region, change its Network
Platform, or, for Linux/UNIX and Windows RIs, modify the instance type of your
reservation to another type in the same instance family at no additional cost.
Scale with your Business: Reserved Instances are eligible for volume discounts, which can save you an additional 10%
when you spend more than $250,000 on Reserved Instances or an additional 20% when you spend more than $2,000,000 on Reserved Instances. Customers
who spend more than $5,000,000 on Reserved Instances should contact us for additional discounts.
Reliable: Reserved Instances provide a capacity reservation so that you can have confidence in your ability to launch
the number of instances you have reserved when you need them.
Easy to Use: Reserved Instances are easy to use and require no change to how you use EC2. When computing your bill, our
system will automatically apply Reserved Instance rates first to minimize your costs. An instance hour will only be charged at the On-Demand rate
when your total quantity of instances running that hour exceeds the number of applicable Reserved Instances you own.
Marketplace Available: The Reserved Instance Marketplace provides
you with the opportunity to sell Reserved Instances if your needs change (i.e. want to move instances to a new AWS Region, change to a new
instance type, or sell capacity for projects that end before your Reserved Instance term expires).
Reserved Instance Types
Reserved Instances (“RIs”) allow you to make a low, one-time payment to reserve instance capacity and further reduce your on-going
Amazon EC2 costs. There are multiple Reserved Instance types shown below that enable you to balance the amount you pay upfront with your effective
Light Utilization RIs – Light Utilization RIs offer the lowest upfront payment of all of the Reserved Instance types.
Along with this low upfront payment, you’ll receive a significantly discounted hourly usage fee. Light Utilization RIs allow you to turn off your
instance at any point and not pay the hourly fee. Light Utilization RIs are ideal for periodic workloads that only run a couple of hours a day, a
few days per week, or very sporadically (like Disaster Recovery where they hardly ever are needed, but when they are, you must be sure you have
the reserved capacity to handle). Using Light Utilization RIs, you can save up to 30% for a 1-year term and 49% for a 3-year term vs. running On-
Demand Instances. The break-even point for a Light Utilization Linux RI (vs. On-Demand Instances) is 28% for a 1-year term or 11% of a 3-year
term. If you expect to use your instance more than that, an RI will save you money.
Medium Utilization RIs – Medium Utilization RIs are the exact same Reserved Instances that EC2 has offered for the last
several years. They have a higher upfront payment than Light Utilization RIs, but a much lower hourly usage fee. Medium Utilization RIs allow you
to turn off your instance at any point and not pay the hourly fee. Medium Utilization RIs are best suited for workloads that run most of the time,
but have some variability in usage (like web server traffic where demand may increase or decrease throughout the year). Using Medium Utilization
RIs, you can save up to 39% for a 1-year term and 59% for a 3-year term vs. running On-Demand Instances. The break-even point for a Medium
Utilization Linux RI (vs. Light Utilization Reserved Instances) is 41% for a 1-year term or 19% of a 3-year term. If you expect to use your
instance more than that, an RI will save you money.
Heavy Utilization RIs – Heavy Utilization RIs offer the most absolute savings of any Reserved Instance type. They’re
most appropriate for steady-state workloads where you’re willing to commit to always running these instances in exchange for our lowest hourly
usage fee. With this RI, you pay a little higher upfront payment than Medium Utilization RIs, a significantly lower hourly usage fee, and you’re
charged that lower hourly rate for every hour in the Reserved Instance term you purchase. Using Heavy Utilization RIs, you can save up to 45% for
a 1-year term and 65% for a 3-year term vs. running On-Demand Instances. The break-even point for a Heavy Utilization Linux RIs (vs. Medium
Utilization Reserved Instances) is 56% for a 1-year term or 35% of a 3-year term. If you expect to use your instance more than that, an RI will
save you money.
To illustrate when to choose each Reserved Instance option, the table below shows the possible savings for Light, Medium, and Heavy
Utilization Reserved Instances over On-Demand rates. The higher your utilization over your Reserved Instance term, the more savings Reserved
3-Year RI Percentage Savings Over On-Demand Comparison*
Light Utilization RI
Medium Utilization RI
Heavy Utilization RI
3-Year RI Percentage Savings Over On-Demand Comparison*
Light Utilization RI
Medium Utilization RI
Heavy Utilization RI
Utilization Rate = % of time your instance is running: 30% utilization of a 3 year term = 10.8
* rates are compared for an m1.xlarge instance 3-year Reserved Instance, % savings on effective hourly rates are roughly the same for all instance
Another way to view the utilization rates above is in terms of aggregate usage. If you purchase a 3-year term Medium Reserved Instance, you
need only run that instance for a total of 7.4 months over the course of the 3-year term (19% of the term) for your costs to equal those of On-
Demand. Any usage beyond this amount incrementally increases your savings.
Reserved Instance Pricing
Reserved Instances give you the option to make a low, one-time payment for each
instance you want to reserve and in turn receive a significant discount on the hourly
charge for that instance. There are three Reserved Instance types (Light, Medium,
and Heavy Utilization Reserved Instances) that enable you to balance the amount
you pay upfront with your effective hourly price.
Reserved Instances can be purchased directly from AWS for 1 or 3 year terms. Using
the Reserved Instance Marketplace, you have the flexibility to purchase Reserved
Instances from AWS Reserved Instance Marketplace Sellers for terms ranging between
1 month to 36 months (depending on available selection). In either case, the one-time
fee per instance is non-refundable. If your needs change, you can also request to move your Reserved Instance to another Availability Zone within the same region, change its Network Platform, or, for Linux/UNIX and Windows RIs, modify the instance type of your reservation to another type in the same instance family at no additional cost.
Light and Medium Utilization Reserved Instances also are billed by the instance-hour
for the time that instances are in a running state; if you do not run the instance
in an hour, there is zero usage charge. Partial instance-hours consumed are billed
as full hours. Heavy Utilization Reserved Instances are billed for every hour during
the entire Reserved Instance term (which means you’re charged the hourly fee regardless
of whether any usage has occurred during an hour).
If Microsoft or Red Hat chooses to increase the license fees that it charges for
Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we may correspondingly increase the per-hour
usage rate for previously purchased Reserved Instances with Windows or Red Hat Enterprise
Linux. The initial one-time payment for a Reserved Instance will be unaffected in
this situation. Any such changes for Windows would be made between Dec 1 – Jan 31,
and with at least 30 days’ notice. Any such changes for Red Hat Enterprise Linux
would be made at least 30 days’ notice. If the per-hour usage rate does increase,
you may continue to use your Reserved Instance with Windows or Red Hat Enterprise
Linux with the new per-hour usage rate, convert your Reserved Instance with Windows
or Red Hat Enterprise Linux to a Reserved Instance with Linux/UNIX, or request a
pro rata refund of the upfront fee you paid for the Reserved Instance with Windows
or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Reserved Instances are available for Linux/UNIX, Windows, Red Hat Enterprise Linux,
and SUSE Linux Enterprise operating systems. You can also optionally reserve instances
in Amazon VPC at the same prices as shown above.
Click here to learn more about Reserved Instances.
Reserved Instance Volume Discounts
When you have purchased a sufficient number of Reserved Instances in an AWS Region,
you will automatically receive discounts on your upfront fees and usage fees for
future purchases of Reserved Instances in that AWS Region. Reserved Instance Tiers
are determined based on the total list price (non-discounted price) of upfront fees
for the active Reserved Instances you have per AWS Region. It is important to note
that Reserved Instance Tiers do not apply to Reserved Instances purchased from the
Reserved Instance Marketplace. A complete list of the Reserved Instance Tiers is
For example, as soon as you have active Reserved Instances with total list price
of upfront fees totaling more than $250,000 in a single AWS Region, you will automatically
receive a 10% discount on both upfront and hourly fees for all future Reserved Instance
purchases in that AWS Region, and those discounts will continue to apply to new
Reserved Instances as long as you continue to qualify for the discount tier.
To illustrate, let's assume you currently have $200,000 worth of active Reserved
Instances in us-east-1. You purchase 75 Reserved Instances at $1000 each. That's
a total of $75,000. The first $50,000 of this purchase would be discounted at 0
percent. The remaining $25,000 of your purchase will be discounted by 10 percent,
so you will only be charged $22,500 for it, and you will pay discounted hourly fees
on those Reserved Instances.
With do-it-yourself options such as collocation or managed hosting, you know that your servers are always available. Reserved Instances
provide the same capacity and cost savings, but with greater flexibility and less effort.
Direct costs of do-it-yourself solutions include hardware, facility fees, and maintenance. Doing it yourself requires dedicated support
resources within your organization, which result in additional indirect costs and distraction to your core business. When you do-it-yourself, you
only have access to a set number of physical servers; any hardware problems result in costly repairs and lost time. Additionally, if your needs
change you are stuck with costly hardware that may sit idle or underutilized.
Reserved Instances transfer responsibility for these support activities to Amazon EC2, leaving you free to focus on your business.
Reserved Instances allow you to avoid recurring costs by turning off instances when you are not using them. In the event of a hardware issue, you
can re-launch your instance immediately without additional costs. With Reserved Instances you maintain flexibility because you have the option to
modify your Reserved Instance or sell it on the Reserved Instance Marketplace for cash if your needs change.
The chart below shows a comparison between the estimated annual costs of doing it yourself, Heavy Utilization Reserved Instances and
On-Demand Instances for a customer running 35 m1.small and 10 m1.large Linux/UNIX instances at steady state for 3 years.
Annual Cost Comparison (100% utilization)
(1 Year Term)
(3 Year Term)
Remote Hands Support
Data Transfer Costs
For information, tools, and resources to compare the costs of Amazon Web Services with IT infrastructure alternatives please visit the
AWS Economics Center.
Reserved Instance Marketplace
The Reserved Instance Marketplace allows you to sell your Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances to other businesses and organizations if your needs
change (e.g. you want to move instances to a new AWS Region, change to a new instance type, or sell capacity for projects that end before the term
expires). You can also browse the Reserved Instance Marketplace to find an even wider selection of Reserved Instance term lengths and pricing
options sold by other AWS customers. Amazon EC2 Instances purchased on the Reserved Instance Marketplace offer the same capacity reservations as
Reserved Instances purchased directly from AWS.
The Reserved Instance Marketplace provides a number of benefits that make it easy to buy and sell Reserved Instances:
Set Your Own Price. You can choose the upfront price you set for the Reserved Instances you sell, and automatically reduce that upfront
price over subsequent months.
Money Back. Once your Reserved Instance sells, you will receive an ACH wire transfer from Amazon Web Services to the account specified
when you registered for the Reserved Instance Marketplace.
Greater Reserved Instance Selection. Businesses can now shop the Reserved Instance Marketplace to purchase Reserved Instances outside
the standard one-year and three-year term lengths that AWS offers.
Each Reserved Instance sold on the Amazon EC2 Reserved Instance Marketplace will be charged a service fee of 12% of the total upfront price.
Reserved Instances can be sold after they have been active for at least 30 days and once AWS has received the upfront payment.
Trusted Advisor analyzes your EC2 computing consumption fees, including any existing Reserved Instance leases, and calculates the optimal number of Reserved Instances for each instance type in each region and availability zone based on your previous month's usage data. Trusted Advisor is available to customers with Business and Enterprise-level support.