Configuring a cluster to continue or terminate after step execution - Amazon EMR

Configuring a cluster to continue or terminate after step execution

This topic explains the differences between using a long-running cluster and creating a transient cluster that shuts down after the last step runs. It also covers how to configure step execution for a cluster.

Create a long-running cluster

By default, clusters that you create with the console or the AWS CLI are long-running. Long-running clusters continue to run, accept work, and accrue charges until you take action to shut them down.

A long-running cluster is effective in the following situations:

  • When you need to interactively or automatically query data.

  • When you need to interact with big data applications hosted on the cluster on an ongoing basis.

  • When you periodically process a data set so large or so frequently that it is inefficient to launch new clusters and load data each time.

You can also set termination protection on a long-running cluster to avoid shutting down EC2 instances by accident or error. For more information, see Using termination protection.


Amazon EMR automatically enables termination protection for all clusters with multiple primary nodes, and overrides any step execution settings that you supply when you create the cluster. You can disable termination protection after the cluster has been launched. See Configuring termination protection for running clusters. To shut down a cluster with multiple primary nodes, you must first modify the cluster attributes to disable termination protection. For instructions, see Terminate an Amazon EMR Cluster with multiple primary nodes.

Configure a cluster to terminate after step execution

When you configure termination after step execution, the cluster starts, runs bootstrap actions, and then runs the steps that you specify. As soon as the last step completes, Amazon EMR terminates the cluster's Amazon EC2 instances. Clusters that you launch with the Amazon EMR API have step execution enabled by default.

Termination after step execution is effective for clusters that perform a periodic processing task, such as a daily data processing run. Step execution also helps you ensure that you are billed only for the time required to process your data. For more information about steps, see Submit work to a cluster.


We’ve redesigned the Amazon EMR console to make it easier to use. See Amazon EMR console to learn about the differences between the old and new console experiences.

To turn on termination after step execution with the console
  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console, and open the Amazon EMR console at

  2. Under EMR on EC2 in the left navigation pane, choose Clusters, and then choose Create cluster.

  3. Under Steps, choose Add step. In the Add step dialog, enter appropriate field values. Options differ depending on the step type. To add your step and exit the dialog, choose Add step.

  4. Under Cluster termination, select the Terminate cluster after last step completes check box.

  5. Choose any other options that apply to your cluster.

  6. To launch your cluster, choose Create cluster.

To turn on termination after step execution with the AWS CLI
  • Specify the --auto-terminate parameter when you use the create-cluster command to create a transient cluster.

    The following example demonstrates how to use the --auto-terminate parameter. You can type the following command and replace myKey with the name of your EC2 key pair.


    Linux line continuation characters (\) are included for readability. They can be removed or used in Linux commands. For Windows, remove them or replace with a caret (^).

    aws emr create-cluster --name "Test cluster" --release-label emr-7.1.0 \ --applications Name=Hive Name=Pig --use-default-roles --ec2-attributes KeyName=myKey \ --steps Type=PIG,Name="Pig Program",ActionOnFailure=CONTINUE,\ Args=[-f,s3://mybucket/scripts/pigscript.pig,-p,\ INPUT=s3://mybucket/inputdata/,-p,OUTPUT=s3://mybucket/outputdata/,\ $INPUT=s3://mybucket/inputdata/,$OUTPUT=s3://mybucket/outputdata/] --instance-type m5.xlarge --instance-count 3 --auto-terminate
To turn off termination after step execution with the Amazon EMR API in cluster launch
  1. When you use the RunJobFlow action to create a cluster, set the KeepJobFlowAliveWhenNoSteps property to false.

  2. To change your configuration of termination after step execution with the Amazon EMR API post cluster launch:

    Use SetKeepJobFlowAliveWhenNoSteps action.