IMDS versions - AWS Snowball Edge Developer Guide

IMDS versions

You can access instance metadata from a running instance using IMDS version 2 or IMDS version 1:

  • Instance Metadata Service version 2 (IMDSv2), a session‐oriented method

  • Instance Metadata Service version 1 (IMDSv1), a request‐response method

Depending on the version of your Snow software, you can use IMDSv1, IMDSv2, or both. This also depends on the type of AMI running in the EC2-compatible instance. Some AMIs, such as those running Ubuntu 20.04, require IMDSv2. The instance metadata service distinguishes between IMDSv1 and IMDSv2 requests based on the presence of PUT or GET headers. IMDSv2 uses both of these headers. IMDSv1 uses only the GET header.

AWS encourages the use of IMDSv2 rather than IMDSv1 because IMDSv2 includes higher security. For more information, see Add defense in depth against open firewalls, reverse proxies, and SSRF vulnerabilities with enhancements to the EC2 Instance Metadata Service.


IMDSv2 uses session‐oriented requests. With session‐oriented requests, you create a session token that defines the session duration. Session duration can be a minimum of one second and a maximum of six hours. During this duration, you can use the same session token for subsequent requests. After this duration expires, you must create a new session token for future requests.

The following example uses a Linux shell script and IMDSv2 to retrieve the top‐level instance metadata items. This example:

  1. Creates a session token lasting six hours (21,600 seconds) using the PUT request.

  2. Stores the session token header in a variable named TOKEN.

  3. Requests the top‐level metadata items using the token.

You can run two commands separately, or combine them.

Separate commands

First, generate a token using the following command.


X-aws-ec2-metadata-token-ttl-seconds is a required header. If this header is not included, you will receive an 400 - Missing or Invalid Parameters error code.

[ec2-user ~]$ TOKEN=curl -X PUT "" -H "X-aws-ec2-metadata-token-ttl-seconds: 21600"

Then, use the token to generate top‐level metadata items using the following command.

[ec2-user ~]$ curl -H "X-aws-ec2-metadata-token: $TOKEN" -v

Combined commands

You can store the token and combine the commands. The following example combines the above two commands and stores the session token header in a variable named TOKEN.


If there is an error in creating the token, an error message is stored in the variable instead of a valid token and the command will not work.

Example of combined commands
[ec2-user ~]$ TOKEN=curl -X PUT "" -H "X-aws-ec2-metadata-token-ttl-seconds: 21600" \ && curl -H "X-aws-ec2-metadata-token: $TOKEN" -v

After you've created a token, you can reuse it until it expires. The following example command gets the ID of the AMI used to launch the instance and stores it in the $TOKEN created in the previous example.

Example of reusing a token
[ec2-user ~]$ curl -H "X-aws-ec2-metadata-token: $TOKEN" -v

When you use IMDSv2 to request instance metadata, the request must follow these rules:

  1. Use a PUT request to initiate a session to the instance metadata service. The PUT request returns a token that must be included in subsequent GET requests to the instance metadata service. The token is required to access metadata using IMDSv2.

  2. Include the token in all GET requests to the instance metadata service.

    1. The token is an instance‐specific key. The token is not valid on other EC2-compatible instances and will be rejected if you attempt to use it outside of the instance on which it was generated.

    2. The PUT request must include a header that specifies the time to live (TTL) for the token, in seconds, up to a maximum of six hours (21,600 seconds). The token represents a logical session. The TTL specifies the length of time that the token is valid and, therefore, the duration of the session.

    3. After a token expires, to continue accessing instance metadata, you must create a new session using another PUT request.

    4. You can choose to reuse a token or create a new token with every request. For a small number of requests, it might be easier to generate and immediately use a token each time you need to access the instance metadata service. But for efficiency, you can specify a longer duration for the token and reuse it rather than having to write a PUT request every time you need to request instance metadata. There is no practical limit on the number of concurrent tokens, each representing its own session.

HTTP GET and HEAD methods are allowed in IMDSv2 instance metadata requests. PUT requests are rejected if they contain an X-Forwarded-For header.

By default, the response to PUT requests has a response hop limit (time to live) of 1 at the IP protocol level. IMDS for Snow does not have ability to modify the hop limit on PUT responses.


IMDSv1 uses the request‐response model. To request instance metadata, you send a GET request to the instance metadata service.

[ec2-user ~]$ curl

Retrieve instance metadata

Your instance metadata is available from your running instance, so you do not need to use Amazon EC2 console or the AWS CLI to access it. This can be helpful when you're writing scripts to run from your instance. For example, you can access the local IP address of your instance from instance metadata to manage a connection to an external application. Instance metadata is divided into categories. For a description of each instance metadata category, see Supported Instance Metadata and User Data in this guide.

To view all categories of instance metadata from within a running instance, use the following IPv4 URI:

The IP addresses are link-local addresses and are valid only from the instance. For more information, see Link-local address on Wikipedia.

Responses and error messages

All instance metadata is returned as text (HTTP content type text/plain).

A request for a specific metadata resource returns the appropriate value, or an 404 - Not Found HTTP error code, if the resource is not available.

A request for a general metadata resource (when the URI ends with a / character) returns a list of available resources, or an 404 - Not Found HTTP error code if there is no such resource. The list items are on separate lines, terminated by line feeds (ASCII character code 10).

For requests made using IMDSv1, the following HTTP error codes can be returned:

  • 400 ‐ Missing or Invalid Parameters — The PUT request is not valid.

  • 401 ‐ Unauthorized — The GET request uses an invalid token. The recommended action is to generate a new token.

  • 403 ‐ Forbidden — The request is not allowed or the instance metadata service is turned off.