Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
User Guide for Linux (API Version 2015-04-15)
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Copying an Amazon EBS Snapshot

Amazon EBS provides block level storage volumes for use with EC2 instances With Amazon EBS, you can create point-in-time snapshots of volumes and store them on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). After you've stored a snapshot in Amazon S3, you can copy it from one AWS region to another, or within the same region. Snapshots are copied with Amazon S3 server-side encryption (256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard) to encrypt your data. You can use snapshot copies to create backups of data, to create new EBS volumes, or to create Amazon Machine Images (AMIs).


Copying snapshots that were encrypted with non-default AWS Key Management Service master keys is not supported at this time.

You can have up to five snapshot copy requests in progress to a single destination per account. You can copy any accessible snapshots that have a completed status, including shared snapshots and snapshots that you've created. You can also copy AWS Marketplace, VM Import/Export, and AWS Storage Gateway snapshots, but you must verify that the snapshot is supported in the destination region.

The first snapshot copy of a volume is always a full copy. Each subsequent snapshot copy is incremental, meaning that only the blocks on the volume that have changed since your last snapshot copy to the same destination are transferred. Incremental snapshots make the copy process faster. Support for incremental snapshots is specific to a region pair. For example, if you copy a snapshot from the US East (N. Virginia) region to the US West (Oregon) region, the first snapshot copy of the volume is a full copy. However, subsequent snapshot copies of the same volume transferred between the same regions are incremental. A snapshot copy is incremental only if a previous complete snapshot copy of the source volume is already available in the destination region.


To copy an Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) snapshot, see Copying a DB Snapshot in the Amazon Relational Database Service User Guide.

When you copy a snapshot, you are only charged for the data transfer and storage used to copy the snapshot data across regions and to store the copied snapshot in the destination region. You are not charged if the snapshot copy fails. However, if you cancel a snapshot copy that is not yet complete, or delete the source snapshot while the copy is in progress, you are charged for the bandwidth of the data transferred. The snapshot is copied across regions using the secure Amazon S3 Copy and the snapshot copy receives a snapshot ID that's different from the original snapshot's ID.

You can use a copy of an snapshot in the following ways:

  • Geographic Expansion: You can launch your applications in a new region.

  • Migration: You can migrate an application to a new region, to enable better availability and minimize cost.

  • Disaster Recovery: You can back up your data and logs across different geographical locations at regular intervals. In case of disaster, you can restore your applications using point-in-time backups stored in the secondary region. This minimizes data loss and recovery time.

The Amazon EC2 console, Amazon EC2 CLI, and the API are designed to provide an intuitive customer experience. We use the push model in the console design to minimize user clicks for the snapshot use cases discussed earlier. You can easily initiate a copy from the console by starting with the source region. We use a pull model in the Amazon EC2 CLI and the API, because these experiences factor in how customers use automation. You only need to know the source snapshot ID and source region to initiate the copy using the Amazon EC2 CLI or API.

To copy a snapshot using the Amazon EC2 console

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console.

  2. In the navigation pane, click Snapshots.

  3. Select the snapshot to copy, and then select Copy from the Actions list.

  4. In the Copy Snapshot dialog box, update the following as necessary:

    • Destination region: Select the region where you want to write the copy of the snapshot.

    • Description: By default, the description includes information about the source snapshot so that you can identify a copy from the original. You can change this description as necessary.


    Copying snapshots that were encrypted with non-default AWS Key Management Service master keys is not supported at this time.

  5. Click Yes, Copy.

  6. In the Copy Snapshot confirmation dialog box, you can click Snapshots to go to the Snapshots page in the region specified, or click Close.

    To view the progress of the copy process later, switch to the destination region, and then refresh the Snapshots page. Copies in progress are listed at the top of the page.

To copy a snapshot using the command line

You can use one of the following commands. For more information about these command line interfaces, see Accessing Amazon EC2.