AWS Snowball
User Guide

This guide is for the standard Snowball (50TB or 80TB of storage space). If you are looking for documentation for the Snowball Edge, see the AWS Snowball Edge Developer Guide.

Using the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball

Following, you can find an overview of the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball, which allows you to programmatically transfer data between your on-premises data center and the Snowball using Amazon S3 REST API actions. This Amazon S3 REST API support is limited to a subset of actions, meaning that you can use the subset of supported Amazon S3 AWS CLI commands or one of the AWS SDKs to transfer data.

If your solution uses the AWS SDK for Java version 1.11.0 or newer, you must use the following S3ClientOptions:

  • disableChunkedEncoding() – Indicates that chunked encoding is not supported with the adapter.

  • setPathStyleAccess(true) – Configures the adapter to use path-style access for all requests.

For more information, see Class S3ClientOptions.Builder in the Amazon AppStream SDK for Java.

Starting the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball

To use the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball, you'll need to start it in a terminal on your workstation, and leave it running while transferring data.


Because the computer workstation from which or to which you make the data transfer is considered to be the bottleneck for transferring data, we highly recommend that your workstation be a powerful computer. It should be able to meet high demands in terms of processing, memory, and networking. For more information, see Workstation Specifications.

Before you start the adapter, you need the following information:

  • The Snowball's IP address – Providing the IP address of the Snowball when you start the adapter tells the adapter where to send your transferred data. You can get this IP address from the E Ink display on the Snowball itself.

  • The job's manifest file – The manifest file contains important information about the job and permissions associated with it. Without it, you won't be able to access the Snowball. It's an encrypted file that you can download after your job enters the WithCustomer status. The manifest is decrypted by the unlock code. You can get the manifest file from the console, or programmatically from calling a job management API action.

  • The job's unlock code – The unlock code a string of 29 characters, including 4 dashes. It's used to decrypt the manifest. You can get the unlock code from the AWS Snowball Management Console, or programmatically from the job management API.

  • Your AWS credentials – Every interaction with the Snowball is signed with the AWS Signature Version 4 algorithm. For more information, see Signature Version 4 Signing Process. When you start the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball, you specify the AWS credentials that you want to use to sign this communication. By default, the adapter uses the credentials specified in the home directory/.aws/credentials file, under the [default] profile. For more information on how this Signature Version 4 algorithm works locally with the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball, see Authorization with the Amazon S3 API Adapter for Snowball.

Once you have the preceding information, you're ready to start the adapter on your workstation. The following procedure outlines this process.

To start the adapter

  1. Open a terminal window on the workstation with the installed adapter.

  2. Navigate to the directory where you installed the snowball-adapter-operating_system directory.

  3. Navigate to the bin subdirectory.

  4. Type the following command to start the adapter: ./snowball-adapter -i Snowball IP address -m path to manifest file -u 29 character unlock code.


If you don't specify any AWS credentials when starting the adapter, the default profile in the home directory/.aws/credentials file is used.

The Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball is now started on your workstation. Leave this terminal window open while the adapter runs. If you're going to use the AWS CLI to transfer your data to the Snowball, open another terminal window and run your AWS CLI commands from there.

Getting the Status of a Snowball Using the Adapter

You can get a Snowball’s status by initiating a HEAD request to the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball. You receive the status response in the form of an XML document. The XML document includes storage information, latency information, version numbers, and more.

You can't use the AWS CLI or any of the AWS SDKs to retrieve status in this. However, you can easily test a HEAD request over the wire by running a curl command on the adapter, as in the following example.

curl -H "Authorization Header" -X HEAD http://localhost:8080


When requesting the status of a Snowball, you must add the authorization header. For more information, see Signing AWS Requests with Signature Version 4.

An example of the XML document that this request returns follows.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<Status xsi:schemaLocation="" xmlns:xsi="">
    <snowballAdapterVersion>Version 1.0</snowballAdapterVersion>