Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
User Guide for Linux Instances

Creating an Amazon EBS Snapshot

After writing data to an EBS volume, you can periodically create a snapshot of the volume to use as a baseline for new volumes or for data backup. If you make periodic snapshots of a volume, the snapshots are incremental so that only the blocks on the device that have changed after your last snapshot are saved in the new snapshot. Even though snapshots are saved incrementally, the snapshot deletion process is designed so that you need to retain only the most recent snapshot in order to restore the volume.

Snapshots occur asynchronously; the point-in-time snapshot is created immediately, but the status of the snapshot is pending until the snapshot is complete (when all of the modified blocks have been transferred to Amazon S3), which can take several hours for large initial snapshots or subsequent snapshots where many blocks have changed.


Although you can take a snapshot of a volume while a previous snapshot of that volume is in the pending status, having multiple pending snapshots of a volume may result in reduced volume performance until the snapshots complete.

There is a limit of 5 pending snapshots for a single volume. If you receive a ConcurrentSnapshotLimitExceeded error while trying to create multiple concurrent snapshots of the same volume, wait for one or more of the pending snapshots to complete before creating another snapshot of that volume.

Snapshots that are taken from 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.

By default, only you can create volumes from snapshots that you own. However, you can choose to share your unencrypted snapshots with specific AWS accounts or make them public. For more information, see Sharing an Amazon EBS Snapshot.

When a snapshot is created from a volume with an AWS Marketplace product code, the product code is propagated to the snapshot.

You can take a snapshot of an attached volume that is in use. However, snapshots only capture data that has been written to your Amazon EBS volume at the time the snapshot command is issued. This might exclude any data that has been cached by any applications or the operating system. If you can pause any file writes to the volume long enough to take a snapshot, your snapshot should be complete. However, if you can't pause all file writes to the volume, you should unmount the volume from within the instance, issue the snapshot command, and then remount the volume to ensure a consistent and complete snapshot. You can remount and use your volume while the snapshot status is pending.

To create a snapshot for Amazon EBS volumes that serve as root devices, you should stop the instance before taking the snapshot.

To unmount the volume in Linux, use the following command:

umount -d device_name

Where device_name is the device name (for example, /dev/sdh).

To create a snapshot using the console

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. Choose Snapshots in the navigation pane.

  3. Choose Create Snapshot.

  4. In the Create Snapshot dialog box, select the volume to create a snapshot for, and then choose Create.

To create 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.