AWS Snowball Edge

Petabyte-scale data transport with on-board storage and compute capabilities

AWS Snowball Edge is a data migration and edge computing device that comes in two options. Snowball Edge Storage Optimized provides both block storage and Amazon S3-compatible object storage, and 24 vCPUs. It is well suited for local storage and large scale-data transfer. Snowball Edge Compute Optimized provides 52 vCPUs, block and object storage, and an optional GPU for use cases such as advanced machine learning and full motion video analysis in disconnected environments. Customers can use these two options for data collection, machine learning and processing, and storage in environments with intermittent connectivity (such as manufacturing, industrial, and transportation) or in extremely remote locations (such as military or maritime operations) before shipping it back to AWS. These devices may also be rack mounted and clustered together to build larger, temporary installations.

Snowball Edge supports specific Amazon EC2 instance types as well as AWS Lambda functions, so customers may develop and test in AWS then deploy applications on devices in remote locations to collect, pre-process, and return the data. Common use cases include data migration, data transport, image collation, IoT sensor stream capture, and machine learning.

Introduction to Snowball Edge (1:44)


Easy data movement

Snowball Edge moves terabytes of data in about a week. Customers use it to move things like databases, backups, archives, healthcare records, analytics datasets, IoT sensor data and media content, especially when network conditions prevent realistic timelines for transferring large amounts of data both into and out of AWS.

Simple to use

Jobs are created in the AWS Management Console. Once a job is created, AWS automatically ships a pre-provisioned Snowball Edge device to your location. When you receive the device, simply attach it to your local network and connect your applications. Once the device is ready to be returned, the E Ink shipping label automatically updates and your freight carrier transports it to the correct AWS facility where the upload begins. Job status can be tracked via Amazon SNS generated text or email messages or directly in the Console.

Process & analyze data locally

Run EC2 AMIs and deploy AWS Lambda code on Snowball Edge to run local processing or analysis with machine learning or other applications. Developers and administrators can run applications directly on the device as a consistent AWS environment without network connectivity. This capability helps customers develop their machine learning and analysis tools and test them in the cloud but operate them in locations with limited or non-existent network connections before shipping the data back to AWS. Snowball Edge can capture the data from the remote site and any additional unrecognized data so the machine learning models can be refined and propagated.

Stand-alone storage

Snowball Edge devices can provide local storage to existing on-premises applications through a file sharing protocol (NFS) or object storage interface (the S3 API). Additionally, you can use on-board block storage volumes for applications running on Amazon EC2 instances on the Snowball Edge. You can also cluster Snowball Edge devices together into a single, larger, storage tier with increased durability. If a Snowball Edge needs to be replaced, it can be removed from the cluster and replaced with a new Snowball Edge.


Snowball Edge devices use tamper-evident enclosures, 256-bit encryption, and industry-standard Trusted Platform Modules (TPM) designed to ensure both security and full chain-of-custody for your data. Encryption keys are managed with the AWS Key Management Service (KMS) and they are never stored on the device.


Snowball Edge devices can transport multiple terabytes of data and multiple devices can be used in parallel or clustered together to transfer petabytes of data into or out of AWS. Snowball Edge is currently available in select regions and your location will be verified once you create a job in the AWS Management Console.

How it works

You can order both the Snowball Edge Storage Optimized and Compute Optimized with just a few clicks in the AWS Management Console. It arrives with your S3 buckets, clustering configuration, and Lambda code or EC2 AMIs pre-installed -- along with analytics applications or machine learning models. Once the appliance arrives, connect it to your local network and set the IP address either manually or with DHCP. Finally, unlock the Snowball Edge device and start copying data, or begin running your EC2 instances, and create and attach block volumes to your applications. Once the appliance is ready to be returned, the E Ink shipping label automatically updates and you can track the job status via Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) generated text or email messages, or directly in the Console. 

Use cases

Embedded applications

Embedded applications such as medical imaging use Snowball Edge to support scanning and imaging systems. These systems can stores data as is is captured to give local users and administration systems immediate access while helping protect from WAN connection problems. A cluster of Snowball Edge devices can stage data locally for periodic transfers into Amazon S3 without disrupting system operations.

Remote locations with simple data

Snowball Edge is ideal for remote applications that benefit from pre-processing, such as image tagging, validation, compression or organization. Collect the data, get quick results and/or prepare it in advance for your cloud analytics application, and ship it back to AWS.

Machine learning

With AWS Snowball Edge, you can deploy and run machine learning models, such as document classification and image labeling, directly on the device to tune processes and improve efficiency, productivity, and even anticipate model failures. Additionally, Snowball Edge can be used to transport data from remote or mobile locations to AWS for in-cloud machine learning.


On-site factory locations use Snowball Edge for manufacturing data collection and analysis to tune processes and improve safety, efficiency, productivity, and even anticipate failure. And over time, this data arrives back in AWS for analytics on a large scale that can highlight meaningful trends or patterns.

Internet of Things

Snowball Edge can ingest data from IoT sensors or equipment log files, perform analysis on the raw data for fast results, and eventually add these results to a data lake in AWS for analytics and archive applications.

Case studies


InSitu (a division of Boeing) flies drones that capture terabytes of high resolution images over millions of hours in extremely remote areas like wildfires, strip mines, desert wellheads, and battlefields. Gathering this remote data is expensive and they want to ensure it is captured accurately before returning to home base. Snowball Edge helps them pre-process and transfer this data back to their cloud-based analytics application.

This is my architecture re:Invent 2017 (48:34) - InSitu starts at 34:24


Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center is a leading marine laboratory and the campus for OSU's research, education, and outreach in marine and coastal sciences. The organization had been collecting data on disk drives aboard its research vessel and then manually loading them into servers in the university’s data center. AWS Snowball Edge helps them collect and analyze 100TB of oceanic and coastal images in real time using onboard compute capabilities, then transfer to the cloud once ashore. 

OSU's shipboard research data management program (3:47)


Collecting and managing content captured from 130,000 people at an electronica festival in the desert? It's what Snowball Edge was made for. Hear Insomniac's David Chen talk about how he replaced disk drives and storage arrays for his temporary, intensive media production networks all around the world.

Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival (2:24)


The Snowball Edge is designed for rugged deployments in unfriendly physical environments and meets the MIL-S-901D specification for high impact mechanical shock applied to equipment mounted on ships. Watch the barge test illustrating an explosive charge detonated in a pond at various distances and depths to impart shock.

60 pounds of HBX-1 explosive 24 feet underwater (1:21)


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