Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
User Guide for Linux Instances

Amazon EBS Snapshots

You can back up the data on your EBS volumes to Amazon S3 by taking point-in-time snapshots. Snapshots are incremental backups, which means that only the blocks on the device that have changed after your most recent snapshot are saved. When you delete a snapshot, only the data exclusive to that snapshot is removed. Active snapshots contain all of the information needed to restore your data (from the time the snapshot was taken) to a new EBS volume.

If you are dealing with snapshots of sensitive data, you should consider encrypting your data manually before taking the snapshot or storing the data on a volume that is enabled with Amazon EBS encryption. For more information, see Amazon EBS Encryption.

Snapshot Overview

When you create an EBS volume, you can create it based on an existing snapshot. The new volume begins as an exact replica of the original volume that was used to create the snapshot. When you create a volume from an existing snapshot, it loads lazily in the background so that you can begin using them right away. If you access a piece of data that hasn't been loaded yet, the volume immediately downloads the requested data from Amazon S3, and then continues loading the rest of the volume's data in the background. For more information, see Creating an Amazon EBS Snapshot.

Snapshots of encrypted volumes are automatically encrypted. Volumes that are created from encrypted snapshots are also automatically encrypted. Your encrypted volumes and any associated snapshots always remain protected. For more information, see Amazon EBS Encryption.

You can share your unencrypted snapshots with specific AWS accounts, make them public to share them with the entire AWS community. Users with access to your snapshots can create their own EBS volumes from your snapshot. This doesn't affect your snapshot. For more information about how to share snapshots, see Sharing an Amazon EBS Snapshot.

Snapshots are constrained to the region in which they are created. After you have created a snapshot of an EBS volume, you can use it to create new volumes in the same region. For more information, see Restoring an Amazon EBS Volume from a Snapshot. You can also copy snapshots across regions, making it easier to leverage multiple regions for geographical expansion, data center migration, and disaster recovery. You can copy any accessible snapshots that have a completed status. For more information, see Copying an Amazon EBS Snapshot.