Using an Amazon EC2 AMI on Your Device - AWS Snowball Edge Developer Guide

Using an Amazon EC2 AMI on Your Device

To use an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) on your AWS Snow Family device, you must first add it to the device. You can add an AMI in the following ways:

  • Upload the AMI when you order the device.

  • Add the AMI when your device arrives at your site.

Amazon EC2 compute instances that come with your Snow Family devices are launched based on the Amazon EC2 AMIs that you add to your device. Amazon EC2 AMIs support both Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems.


The following Linux operating systems are supported:


The following Windows operating systems are supported:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2

  • Windows Server 2016

  • Windows Server 2019

You can add Windows AMIs to your device by importing your Windows virtual machine (VM) image into AWS using VM Import/Export. Or, you can import the image into your device right after the device is deployed to your site. For more information, see Adding a Microsoft Windows AMI.


Windows AMIs that originated in AWS can't be added to your device.

AMIs imported locally must be in BIOS boot mode as UEFI is not supported.

Snow Family supports the Bring Your Own License (BYOL) model. For more information, see Adding a Microsoft Windows AMI.

Adding an AMI When Ordering Your Device

When you order your device, you can add AMIs to the device by choosing them in the Compute using EC2 instances - optional section in the AWS Snow Family Management Console. The Compute using EC2 instances - optional lists all of the AMIs that can be loaded onto your device. The AMIs fall into the following categories:

  • AMIs from AWS Marketplace — These are AMIs created from the list of supported AMIs. For information about creating an AMI from the supported AMIs from AWS Marketplace, see Adding an AMI from AWS Marketplace.

  • AMIs uploaded using VM Import/Export — When you order your device, the AMIs that were uploaded using VM Import/Export are listed in the console. For more information, see Importing a VM as an Image Using VM Import/Export in the VM Import/Export User Guide. For information about supported virtualization environments, see VM Import/Export Requirements.

Adding an AMI from AWS Marketplace

Follow these steps to add an AMI from AWS Marketplace:

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. Launch a new instance of a supported AMI in AWS Marketplace.


    When you launch your instance, make sure that the storage size you assign to the instance is appropriate for your use case. In the Amazon EC2 console, you do this in the Add storage step.

    For a list of the supported compute instance storage volumes and sizes on a Snowball Edge device, see Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud endpoints and quotas in the AWS General Reference.

  3. Install and configure the applications that you want to run on the Snowball Edge, and make sure that they work as expected.

    • Only single volume AMIs are supported.

    • The EBS volume in your AMI should be 10 TB or less. We recommend that you provision the EBS volume size needed for the data in the AMI. This will help decrease the time it takes to export your AMI and load it into your device. You can resize or add more volumes to your instance after your device is deployed.

    • The EBS snapshot in your AMI must not be encrypted.

  4. Make a copy of the PEM or PPK file that you used for the SSH key pair when you created this instance. Save this file to the server that you plan to use to communicate with the Snowball Edge device. Make a note of the path to this file because you will need it when you use SSH to connect to the EC2 instance on your device.


    If you don't follow this procedure, you can't connect to your instances with SSH when you receive your Snowball Edge device.

  5. Save the instance as an AMI. For more information, see Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances.

  6. Repeat steps 1–4 for each of the instances that you want to connect to using SSH. Be sure to make copies of each of the SSH key pairs, and keep track of the AMIs that they're associated with.

  7. Now, when you order your device, these AMIs are available to add to your device.

Adding an AMI Locally

When the device arrives on your site, you can add new AMIs to it. For instructions, see Importing an Image into Your Device as an Amazon EC2 AMI. Keep in mind that although all VMs are supported, only supported AMIs have been tested for full functionality.


When you use VM Import/Export to add AMIs to your device or import a VM after your device is deployed, you can add VMs that use any operating system. However, only supported operating systems have been tested and validated on Snow Family devices. You are responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of any operating system or software that is in the virtual image that you import onto your device.


For AWS services to function properly on a Snowball Edge, you must allow the ports for the services. For details, see Ports Required to Use AWS Services on an AWS Snowball Edge Device.

Adding a Microsoft Windows AMI

For virtual machines (VMs) that use a supported Windows operating system, you can add the AMI by importing your Windows VM image into AWS using VM Import/Export, or by importing it into your device directly after it is deployed to your site.

Bring Your Own License (BYOL)

Snowball Edge supports importing Microsoft Windows AMIs onto your device with your own license. Bring Your Own License (BYOL) is the process of bringing an AMI that you own with its on-premises license to AWS. AWS provides both shared and dedicated deployment options for the BYOL option.

You can add your Windows VM image to your device by importing it into AWS using VM Import/Export or by importing it into your device directly after it is deployed to your site. You can't add Windows AMIs that originated in AWS. Therefore, you must create and import your own Windows VM image and bring your own license if you want to use the AMI on your Snow Family device. For more information about Windows licensing and BYOL, see Amazon Web Services and Microsoft: Frequently Asked Questions.

Creating a Windows VM Image to Import into Your Device

To create a Windows VM image, you need a virtualization environment, such as VirtualBox, which is supported for the Windows and macOS operating systems. When you create a VM for Snow devices, we recommend that you allocate at least two cores with at least 4 GB of RAM. When the VM is up and running, you must install your operating system (Windows Server 2012, 2016, or 2019). To install the required drivers for the Snow Family device, follow the instructions in this section.

For a Windows AMI to run on a Snow device, you must add specific drivers to the device. Specifically, you must add the VirtIO, FLR, NetVCM, Vioinput, Viorng, Vioscsi, Vioserial, and Vistor drivers. You can download the VirtIO file that contains all the required drivers.


If you plan to import your VM image directly to your deployed Snow device, the VM image file must be in the RAW format.

To create a Windows image
  1. On your Microsoft Windows computer, choose Start and enter devmgmt.msc to open Device Manager.

  2. In the main menu, choose Actions, and then choose Add legacy hardware.

  3. In the wizard, choose Next.

  4. Choose Install the hardware that I manually select from a list (advanced), and choose Next.

  5. Choose Show All Devices and choose Next.

  6. Choose Have Disk, open the Copy manufacturer’s files from list, and browse to the ISO file.

  7. In the ISO file, browse to the Driver\W2K8R2\amd64 directory, and then find the .INF file.

  8. Choose the .INF file, choose Open, and then choose OK.

  9. When you see the driver name, choose Next, and then choose Next two more times. Then choose Finish.

    This installs a device using the new driver. The actual hardware doesn't exist, so you will see a yellow exclamation mark that indicates an issue on the device. You must fix this issue.

To fix the hardware issue
  1. Open the context (right-click) menu for the device that has the exclamation mark.

  2. Choose Uninstall, clear Delete the driver software for this device, and choose OK.

    The driver is installed, and you are ready to launch the AMI on your device.

Importing a VM Image into Your Device

After you prepare your VM image, you can use one of the options to import the image to your device.