Protect your Amazon ECS tasks from being terminated by scale-in events - Amazon Elastic Container Service

Protect your Amazon ECS tasks from being terminated by scale-in events

You can use Amazon ECS task scale-in protection to protect your tasks from being terminated by scale-in events from either service auto scaling or deployments.

Certain applications require a mechanism to safeguard mission-critical tasks from termination by scale-in events during times of low utilization or during service deployments. For example:

  • You have a queue-processing asynchronous application such as a video transcoding job where some tasks need to run for hours even when cumulative service utilization is low.

  • You have a gaming application that runs game servers as Amazon ECS tasks that need to continue running even if all users have logged-out to reduce start-up latency of a server reboot.

  • When you deploy a new code version, you need tasks to continue running because it would be expensive to reprocess.

To protect tasks that belong to your service from terminating in a scale-in event, set the protectionEnabled attribute to true. By default, tasks are protected for 2 hours. You can customize the protection period by using the expiresInMinutes attribute. You can protect your tasks for a minimum of 1 minute and up to a maximum of 2880 minutes (48 hours).

After a task finishes its requisite work, you can set the protectionEnabled attribute to false, allowing the task to be terminated by subsequent scale-in events.

Task scale-in protection mechanisms

You can set and get task scale-in protection using either the Amazon ECS container agent endpoint or the Amazon ECS API.

  • Amazon ECS container agent endpoint

    We recommend using the Amazon ECS container agent endpoint for tasks that can self-determine the need to be protected. Use this approach for queue-based or job-processing workloads.

    When a container starts processing work, for example by consuming an SQS message, you can set the ProtectionEnabled attribute through the task scale-in protection endpoint path $ECS_AGENT_URI/task-protection/v1/state from within the container. Amazon ECS will not terminate this task during scale-in events. After your task finishes its work, you can clear the ProtectionEnabled attribute using the same endpoint, making the task eligible for termination during subsequent scale-in events.

    For more information about the Amazon ECS container agent endpoint, see Amazon ECS task scale-in protection endpoint.

  • Amazon ECS API

    You can use the Amazon ECS API to set and retrieve task scale-in protection if your application has a component that tracks the status of active tasks. Use UpdateTaskProtection to mark one or more tasks as protected. Use GetTaskProtection to retrieve the protection status.

    An example of this approach would be if your application is hosting game server sessions as Amazon ECS tasks. When a user logs in to a session on the server (task), you can mark the task as protected. After the user logs out, you can either clear the protection specifically for this task or periodically clear protection for similar tasks that no longer have active sessions, depending on your requirement to keep idle servers.

    For more information, see UpdateTaskProtection and GetTaskProtection in the Amazon Elastic Container Service API Reference.

You can combine both approaches. For example, use the Amazon ECS agent endpoint to set task protection from within a container and use the Amazon ECS API to remove task protection from your external controller service.


Consider the following points before using task scale-in protection:

  • We recommend using the Amazon ECS container agent endpoint because the Amazon ECS agent has built-in retry mechanisms and a simpler interface.

  • You can reset the task scale-in protection expiration period by calling UpdateTaskProtection for a task that already has protection turned on.

  • Determine how long a task would need to complete its requisite work and set the expiresInMinutes property accordingly. If you set the protection expiration longer than necessary, then you will incur costs and face delays in the deployment of new tasks.

  • Task scale-in protection is supported on Amazon ECS container agent 1.65.0 or later.

    You can add support for this feature on Amazon EC2 instances using older versions of the Amazon ECS container agent by updating the agent to the latest version. For more information, see Updating the Amazon ECS container agent.

  • Deployment considerations:

    • If the service uses a rolling update, new tasks will be created but tasks running older version will not be terminated until protectionEnabled is cleared or expires. You can adjust the maximumPercentage parameter in deployment configuration to a value that allows new tasks to be created when old tasks are protected.

    • If a blue/green update is applied, the blue deployment with protected tasks will not be removed if tasks have protectionEnabled. Traffic will be diverted to the new tasks that come up and older tasks will only be removed when protectionEnabled is cleared or expires. Depending on the timeout of the CodeDeploy or CloudFormation updates, the deployment may timeout and the older Blue tasks may still be present.

    • If you use CloudFormation, the update-stack has a 3 hour timeout. Therefore, if you set your task protection for longer than 3 hours, then your CloudFormation deployment may result in failure and rollback.

      During the time your old tasks are protected, the CloudFormation stack shows UPDATE_IN_PROGRESS. If task scale-in protection is removed or expires within the 3 hour window, your deployment will succeed and move to the UPDATE_COMPLETE status. If the deployment is stuck in UPDATE_IN_PROGRESS for more than 3 hours, it will fail and show UPDATE_FAILED state, and will then be rolled back to old task set.

    • Amazon ECS sends service events when protected tasks keep a deployment (rolling or blue/green) from reaching the steady state, so that you can take remedial actions. While trying to update the protection status of a task, if you receive a DEPLOYMENT_BLOCKED error message, it means the service has more protected tasks than the desired count of tasks for the service. To resolve this error, do one the following:

      • Wait for the current task protection to expire. Then set task protection.

      • Determine which tasks can be stopped. Then use UpdateTaskProtectionwith the protectionEnabled option set to false for these tasks.

      • Increase the desired task count of the service to more than the number of protected tasks.

IAM permissions required for task scale-in protection

The task must have the Amazon ECS task role with the following permissions:

  • ecs:GetTaskProtection: Allows the Amazon ECS container agent to call GetTaskProtection.

  • ecs:UpdateTaskProtection: Allows the Amazon ECS container agent to call UpdateTaskProtection.