Creating Amazon ES Index Snapshots - Amazon Elasticsearch Service

Creating Amazon ES Index Snapshots

Snapshots are backups of an Amazon Elasticsearch Service (Amazon ES) cluster's indices and state. State includes cluster settings, node information, index settings, and shard allocation.

Amazon ES snapshots come in two forms: automated and manual.

  • Automated snapshots are only for cluster recovery. You can use them to restore your domain in the event of red cluster status or data loss. For more information, see Restoring Snapshots below. Amazon ES stores automated snapshots in a preconfigured Amazon S3 bucket at no additional charge.

  • Manual snapshots are for cluster recovery or for moving data from one cluster to another. You have to initiate manual snapshots. These snapshots are stored in your own Amazon S3 bucket and standard S3 charges apply. If you have a snapshot from a self-managed Elasticsearch cluster, you can use that snapshot to migrate to an Amazon ES domain. For more information, see Migrating to Amazon Elasticsearch Service.

All Amazon ES domains take automated snapshots, but the frequency differs in the following ways:

  • For domains running Elasticsearch version 5.3 and later, Amazon ES takes hourly automated snapshots and retains up to 336 of them for 14 days.

  • For domains running Elasticsearch version 5.1 and earlier, Amazon ES takes daily automated snapshots during the hour you specify and retains up to 14 of them for 30 days.

If your cluster enters red status, Amazon ES stops taking automated snapshots. If you don't correct the problem within two weeks, you can permanently lose the data in your cluster. For troubleshooting steps, see Red Cluster Status.

Manual Snapshot Prerequisites

To create snapshots manually, you need to work with IAM and Amazon S3. Make sure you meet the following prerequisites before you attempt to take a snapshot:

Prerequisite Description
S3 bucket

Create an S3 bucket to store manual snapshots for your Amazon ES domain. For instructions, see Create a Bucket in the Amazon Simple Storage Service Getting Started Guide.

Remember the name of the bucket to use it in the following places:

  • The Resource statement of the IAM policy attached to your IAM role

  • The Python client used to register a snapshot repository (if you use this method)


Do not apply an S3 Glacier lifecycle rule to this bucket. Manual snapshots don't support the S3 Glacier storage class.

IAM role

Create an IAM role to delegate permissions to Amazon Elasticsearch Service. For instructions, see Creating an IAM role (console) in the IAM User Guide. The rest of this chapter refers to this role as TheSnapshotRole.

Attach an IAM policy

Attach the following policy to TheSnapshotRole to allow access to the S3 bucket:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [{ "Action": [ "s3:ListBucket" ], "Effect": "Allow", "Resource": [ "arn:aws:s3:::s3-bucket-name" ] }, { "Action": [ "s3:GetObject", "s3:PutObject", "s3:DeleteObject" ], "Effect": "Allow", "Resource": [ "arn:aws:s3:::s3-bucket-name/*" ] } ] }

For instructions to attach a policy to a role, see Adding IAM Identity Permissions in the IAM User Guide.

Edit the trust relationship

Edit the trust relationship of TheSnapshotRole to specify Amazon ES in the Principal statement as shown in the following example:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [{ "Sid": "", "Effect": "Allow", "Principal": { "Service": "" }, "Action": "sts:AssumeRole" }] }

For instructions to edit the trust relationship, see Modifying a role trust policy in the IAM User Guide.


In order to register the snapshot repository, you need to be able to pass TheSnapshotRole to Amazon ES. You also need access to the es:ESHttpPut action. To grant both of these permissions, add the following policy to the role you're signing your requests with:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "iam:PassRole", "Resource": "arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/TheSnapshotRole" }, { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "es:ESHttpPut", "Resource": "arn:aws:es:region:123456789012:domain/domain-name/*" } ] }

If your role doesn't have iam:PassRole permissions to pass TheSnapshotRole you might encounter the following common error when you try to register a repository in the next step:

$ python {"Message":"User: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:user/MyUserAccount is not authorized to perform: iam:PassRole on resource: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/TheSnapshotRole"}

Registering a Manual Snapshot Repository

You need to register a snapshot repository with Amazon ES before you can take manual index snapshots. This one-time operation requires that you sign your AWS request with credentials that are allowed to access TheSnapshotRole, as described in Manual Snapshot Prerequisites.

Step 1: Map the manage_snapshots role (if using fine-grained access control)

Fine-grained access control introduces an additional step when registering a repository. Even if you use HTTP basic authentication for all other purposes, you need to map the manage_snapshots role to your IAM role that has iam:PassRole permissions to pass TheSnapshotRole.

  1. Navigate to the Kibana plugin for your Amazon ES domain. You can find the Kibana endpoint on your domain dashboard on the Amazon ES console.

  2. Open the main menu and choose Security and then Roles.

  3. Search for and select the manage_snapshots role.

  4. Go to the Mapped users tab and choose Manage mapping.

  5. Under Backend roles, add the domain ARN of the role that has permissions to pass TheSnapshotRole. The ARN has the following format:

  6. Select Map and confirm the role shows up under Mapped users.

Step 2: Register a repository

To register a snapshot repository, send a PUT request to the Amazon ES domain endpoint. You can't use curl to perform this operation because it doesn't support AWS request signing. Instead, use the sample Python client, Postman, or some other method to send a signed request to register the snapshot repository.

The request takes the following format:

PUT elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/my-snapshot-repo-name { "type": "s3", "settings": { "bucket": "s3-bucket-name", "region": "region", "role_arn": "arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/TheSnapshotRole" } }

If your domain resides within a VPC, your computer must be connected to the VPC for the request to successfully register the snapshot repository. Accessing a VPC varies by network configuration, but likely involves connecting to a VPN or corporate network. To check that you can reach the Amazon ES domain, navigate to in a web browser and verify that you receive the default JSON response.

Encrypting snapshot repositories

You currently can't use Key Management Service (KMS) master keys to encrypt manual snapshots, but you can protect them using server-side encryption (SSE).

To enable SSE with S3-managed keys for the bucket you use as a snapshot repository, add "server_side_encryption": true to the "settings" block of the PUT request. For more information, see Protecting data using server-side encryption with Amazon S3-managed encryption keys in the Amazon Simple Storage Service User Guide.

Alternatively, you can use customer master keys (CMKs) for server-side encryption on the S3 bucket you use as a snapshot repository.

Migrating data to a different domain

Registering a snapshot repository is a one-time operation. However, to migrate from one domain to another, you have to register the same snapshot repository on the old domain and the new domain. The repository name is arbitrary.

Consider the following guidelines when migrating to a new domain or registering the same repository with multiple domains for another reason:

  • When registering the repository on the new domain, add "readonly": true to the "settings" block of the PUT request. This setting prevents you from accidentally overwriting data from the old domain.

  • If you're migrating data to a domain in a different region, (for example, from an old domain and bucket located in us-east-2 to a new domain in us-west-2), you might see this 500 error when sending the PUT request:

    The bucket is in this region: us-east-2. Please use this region to retry the request.

    If this happens, try replacing "region": "us-east-2" with "endpoint": "" in the PUT statement and retry the request.

Using the sample Python client

The Python client is easier to automate than a simple HTTP request and has better reusability. If you choose to use this method to register a snapshot repository, save the following sample Python code as a Python file, such as The client requires the AWS SDK for Python (Boto3), requests and requests-aws4auth packages. The client contains commented-out examples for other snapshot operations.


A Java-based code sample is available in Signing HTTP Requests.

Update the following variables in the sample code: host, region, path, and payload.

import boto3 import requests from requests_aws4auth import AWS4Auth host = '' # include https:// and trailing / region = '' # e.g. us-west-1 service = 'es' credentials = boto3.Session().get_credentials() awsauth = AWS4Auth(credentials.access_key, credentials.secret_key, region, service, session_token=credentials.token) # Register repository path = '_snapshot/my-snapshot-repo-name' # the Elasticsearch API endpoint url = host + path payload = { "type": "s3", "settings": { "bucket": "s3-bucket-name", "region": "us-west-1", "role_arn": "arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/TheSnapshotRole" } } headers = {"Content-Type": "application/json"} r = requests.put(url, auth=awsauth, json=payload, headers=headers) print(r.status_code) print(r.text) # # Take snapshot # # path = '_snapshot/my-snapshot-repo/my-snapshot' # url = host + path # # r = requests.put(url, auth=awsauth) # # print(r.text) # # # Delete index # # path = 'my-index' # url = host + path # # r = requests.delete(url, auth=awsauth) # # print(r.text) # # # Restore snapshot (all indices except Kibana and fine-grained access control) # # path = '_snapshot/my-snapshot-repo/my-snapshot/_restore' # url = host + path # # payload = { # "indices": "-.kibana*,-.opendistro_security", # "include_global_state": False # } # # headers = {"Content-Type": "application/json"} # # r =, auth=awsauth, json=payload, headers=headers) # # print(r.text) # # # Restore snapshot (one index) # # path = '_snapshot/my-snapshot-repo/my-snapshot/_restore' # url = host + path # # payload = {"indices": "my-index"} # # headers = {"Content-Type": "application/json"} # # r =, auth=awsauth, json=payload, headers=headers) # # print(r.text)

Taking Manual Snapshots

Snapshots are not instantaneous. They take time to complete and don't represent perfect point-in-time views of the cluster. While a snapshot is in progress, you can still index documents and make other requests to the cluster, but new documents and updates to existing documents generally aren't included in the snapshot. The snapshot includes primary shards as they existed when Elasticsearch initiated the snapshot. Depending on the size of your snapshot thread pool, different shards might be included in the snapshot at slightly different times.

Snapshot storage and performance

Elasticsearch snapshots are incremental, meaning they only store data that changed since the last successful snapshot. This incremental nature means the difference in disk usage between frequent and infrequent snapshots is often minimal. In other words, taking hourly snapshots for a week (for a total of 168 snapshots) might not use much more disk space than taking a single snapshot at the end of the week. Also, the more frequently you take snapshots, the less time they take to complete. Some Elasticsearch users take snapshots as often as every half hour.

Create a snapshot

You specify the following information when you create a snapshot:

  • The name of your snapshot repository

  • A name for the snapshot

The examples in this chapter use curl, a common HTTP client, for convenience and brevity. However, if your access policies specify IAM users or roles, however, you must sign your snapshot requests. You can use the commented-out examples in the sample Python client to make signed HTTP requests to the same endpoints that the curl commands use.

To take a manual snapshot, perform the following steps:

  1. You can't take a snapshot if one is currently in progress. To check, run the following command:

    curl -XGET 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/_status'
  2. Run the following command to take a manual shapshot:

    curl -XPUT 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/repository-name/snapshot-name'

The time required to take a snapshot increases with the size of the Amazon ES domain. Long-running snapshot operations sometimes encounter the following error: 504 GATEWAY_TIMEOUT. You can typically ignore these errors and wait for the operation to complete successfully. Run the following command to verify the state of all snapshots of your domain:

curl -XGET 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/repository-name/_all?pretty'

Restoring Snapshots


If you use index aliases, cease write requests to an alias, or switch the alias to another index, prior to deleting its index. Halting write requests helps avoid the following scenario:

  1. You delete an index, which also deletes its alias.

  2. An errant write request to the now-deleted alias creates a new index with the same name as the alias.

  3. You can no longer use the alias due to a naming conflict with the new index.

If you switched the alias to another index, specify "include_aliases": false when you restore from a snapshot.

To restore a snapshot, perform the following steps:

  1. Identify the snapshot you want to restore. To see all snapshot repositories, run the following command:

    curl -XGET 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot?pretty'

    After you identify the repository, run the following command to see all snapshots:

    curl -XGET 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/repository-name/_all?pretty'

    Most automated snapshots are stored in the cs-automated repository. If your domain encrypts data at rest, they're stored in the cs-automated-enc repository. If you don't see the manual snapshot repository you're looking for, make sure you registered it to the domain.

  2. (Optional) Delete or rename one or more indices in the Amazon ES domain if you have naming conflicts between indices on the cluster and indices in the snapshot. You can't restore a snapshot of your indices to an Elasticsearch cluster that already contains indices with the same names.

    You have the following options if you have index naming conflicts:

    The following command deletes all existing indices in a domain:

    curl -XDELETE 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_all'

    However, if you don't plan to restore all indices, you can just delete one:

    curl -XDELETE 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/index-name'
  3. To restore a snapshot, run the following command:

    curl -XPOST 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/repository-name/snapshot-name/_restore'

    Due to special permissions on the Kibana and fine-grained access control indices, attempts to restore all indices might fail, especially if you try to restore from an automated snapshot. The following example restores just one index, my-index, from 2020-snapshot in the cs-automated snapshot repository:

    curl -XPOST 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/cs-automated/2020-snapshot/_restore' -d '{"indices": "my-index"}' -H 'Content-Type: application/json'

    Alternately, you might want to restore all indices except the Kibana and fine-grained access control indices:

    curl -XPOST 'elasticsearch-domain-endpoint/_snapshot/cs-automated/2020-snapshot/_restore' -d '{"indices": "-.kibana*,-.opendistro_security"}' -H 'Content-Type: application/json'

If not all primary shards were available for the indices involved, a snapshot might have a state of PARTIAL. This value indicates that data from at least one shard wasn't stored successfully. You can still restore from a partial snapshot, but you might need to use older snapshots to restore any missing indices.

Deleting Manual Snapshots

To delete a manual snapshot, run the following command:

DELETE _snapshot/repository-name/snapshot-name

Using Curator for Snapshots

Some users find tools like Curator convenient for index and snapshot management. Use pip to install Curator:

pip install elasticsearch-curator

Curator offers advanced filtering functionality that can help simplify management tasks on complex clusters. Amazon ES supports Curator on domains running Elasticsearch version 5.1 and above. You can use Curator as a command line interface (CLI) or Python API. If you use the CLI, export your credentials at the command line and configure curator.yml as follows:

client: hosts: port: 443 use_ssl: True aws_region: us-west-1 aws_sign_request: True ssl_no_validate: False timeout: 60 logging: loglevel: INFO

For sample Lambda functions that use the Python API, see Using Curator to Rotate Data in Amazon Elasticsearch Service.