How can I upgrade my EC2 Windows Server instance OS to a newer version?

Last updated: 2020-12-14

I want to upgrade my Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Windows Server instance to a newer Windows version. How can I do that?


For Windows Server 2012 R2 or later, you can choose between a server migration or an in-place upgrade.

For Windows Server 2008 R2, you can choose between a server migration or an automated upgrade.

To minimize downtime, plan your upgrade before you start. It's a best practice to maintain backups of your instances and data. Before you upgrade, consider creating an AMI or creating snapshots of your Amazon EBS volumes.

Server migration for EC2 Windows Server 2008 R2 or later

With a migration, you copy the data and configuration to a new server that's already running the desired version of Windows. This process can result in fewer upgrade errors or issues, but can take longer than an in-place upgrade.

For instructions, see Migrating roles and features in Windows Server on the Microsoft website.

In-place upgrade for EC2 Windows Server 2012 R2 or later

An in-place upgrade lets you keep your existing configuration and data. This process can be faster, but errors can occur due to software incompatibilities.

First, verify that all requirements are met to confirm that you are ready to upgrade. For in-place upgrade instructions, see Performing an in-place upgrade.

If you run into upgrade issues, see Troubleshooting an upgrade.

Automated upgrade for EC2 Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2

You can use Systems Manager Automation documents to perform an automated upgrade. Two upgrade paths are available:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012 R2, or 2016 to Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, or 2019
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 on Windows Server 2012 R2 to SQL Server 2016

For prerequisites and instructions, see Performing an automated upgrade.

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