AWS Import/Export
Developer Guide

AWS Import/Export Jobs

This section describes AWS Import/Export jobs and job types.

Jobs Overview

You create an AWS Import/Export job in two steps. First, you submit a job request to AWS. Each AWS Import/Export job corresponds to exactly one storage device. You submit your job request by using the AWS Import/Export command line tool, which requires no programming. If your application requires a programmatic interface, you can use the AWS SDK or the REST API. Second, you send your storage device to AWS. We use our high bandwidth network to import your data into AWS or export data from AWS to your storage device, then return your device.

You must submit a separate job request for each device.


You can send multiple devices in the same shipment. If you do, however, there are specific guidelines and limitations that govern what devices you can ship and how your devices must be packaged. If your shipment is not prepared and packed correctly, AWS Import/Export cannot process your jobs. Regardless of how many devices you ship at one time, you must submit a separate job request for each device. For complete details about packaging requirements when shipping multiple devices, see Shipping Multiple Devices.


For added security, AWS Import/Export supports the following data encryption methods:

PIN-code encryption

Hardware-based device encryption that uses a physical PIN pad for access to the data.

TrueCrypt software encryption

Disk encryption using TrueCrypt, which is an open-source encryption application.

AWS Import/Export requires encryption with all export jobs. For export jobs, you can use either hardware encryption or software encryption. Optionally, you can use both methods.

We strongly recommend encrypting your data for all import jobs.

For import to Amazon S3, AWS supports device-level encryption using PIN-code encryption or TrueCrypt software encryption, or both. If you prefer, you can encrypt the file objects on your device using any software encryption you choose. AWS must be able to list the objects on your device without having to decrypt the device, but we do not decrypt the objects.

For import to Amazon EBS, AWS supports device-level encryption using PIN-code encryption or software encryption of your choice, or both. AWS does not decrypt software-encrypted devices when importing to Amazon EBS; rather we import a direct copy of the complete device.

When you create an import or export job, you must provide the PIN code or password for the encryption method you choose. For more information, see Encrypting Your Data.

Job Types

For each job type, the following table summarizes the source of the data, either your device or an Amazon S3 bucket, where the data will be moved to, and the result you can expect when the job is complete.

Import to Amazon S3




  • Files on a device file system.

  • One device per import job.

  • We recommend encrypting your data. See Encrypting Your Data.

  • Objects in an existing Amazon S3 bucket.

  • One bucket per import job.

  • If you encrypted your data, AWS decrypts the data before performing the import.

  • One object for each file.

  • Files and directories can be excluded or renamed using manifest file options.

  • AWS erases your device after every import job prior to shipping.

Export from Amazon S3




  • Objects in one or more Amazon S3 buckets.

  • You can export from multiple buckets for each export job.

  • AWS requires device encryption on all export jobs. See Encrypting Your Data.

  • Files on your storage device.

  • One device per export job.

  • AWS formats your device.

  • AWS copies your data to an encrypted device or to an encrypted file container on your device, or both.

  • One file for each object.

  • You can export from more than one bucket and specify which files to export using manifest file options.

  • You will need to use one of the supported encryption mechanisms to access the encrypted files.

Import to Amazon EBS




  • Entire device.

  • One device per import job.

  • We recommend encrypting your device.

  • One Amazon EBS snapshot.

  • One snapshot per import job.

  • If you send a PIN-code protected device, AWS will use the PIN code you provide to access the device.

  • If your data is encrypted using software encryption, AWS does not decrypt your data.

  • A device image stored as a single snapshot.

  • The device's file system won't be automatically mounted to an Amazon EC2 instance.

  • If the device was encrypted, the device image is encrypted.

  • AWS erases your device after every import job prior to return shipping.


An Amazon EBS import creates a virtual copy of your device as a single image. The maximum size of an Amazon EBS volume is 16 TB. Note that the maximum capacity of a device is independent of the amount of data stored on the device.

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