What Is AWS Snowball Edge? - AWS Snowball Edge Developer Guide

What Is AWS Snowball Edge?

AWS Snowball Edge is a type of Snowball device with on-board storage and compute power for select AWS capabilities. Snowball Edge can do local processing and edge-computing workloads in addition to transferring data between your local environment and the AWS Cloud.

Each Snowball Edge device can transport data at speeds faster than the internet. This transport is done by shipping the data in the appliances through a regional carrier. The appliances are rugged, complete with E Ink shipping labels.

Snowball Edge devices have three options for device configurations—Storage Optimized, Compute Optimized, and Compute Optimized with GPU. When this guide refers to Snowball Edge devices, it's referring to all options of the device. When specific information applies only to one or more optional configurations of devices (such as how the Snowball Edge with GPU has an on-board GPU), it is called out specifically. For more information, see Snowball Edge Device Options.

AWS Snowball Edge Features

Snowball Edge devices have the following features:

  • Large amounts of storage capacity or compute functionality for devices. This depends on the options you choose when you create your job.

  • Network adapters with transfer speeds of up to 100 Gbit/second.

  • Encryption is enforced, protecting your data at rest and in physical transit.

  • You can import or export data between your local environments and Amazon S3, and physically transport the data with one or more devices without using the internet.

  • Snowball Edge devices are their own rugged box. The built-in E Ink display changes to show your shipping label when the device is ready to ship.

  • Snowball Edge devices come with an on-board LCD display that can be used to manage network connections and get service status information.

  • You can cluster Snowball Edge devices for local storage and compute jobs to achieve data durability across 5–10 devices and locally grow or shrink storage on demand.

  • You can use the file interface to read and write data to an AWS Snowball Edge device through a file share or Network File System (NFS) mount point.

  • You can write Python-language Lambda functions and associate them with Amazon S3 buckets when you create an AWS Snowball Edge device job. Each function triggers when a local Amazon S3 PUT object action is run on the associated bucket on the device.

  • Snowball Edge devices have Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 compatible endpoints available, enabling programmatic use cases.

  • Snowball Edge devices support the new sbe1, sbe-c, and sbe-g instance types, which you can use to run compute instances on the device using Amazon Machine Images (AMIs).

  • Snowball Edge supports these data transfer protocols:

    • NFSv3

    • NFSv4

    • NFSv4.1

    • Amazon S3 over HTTP or HTTPS (via API compatible with AWS CLI version 1.16.14 and earlier)

Prerequisites for Using Snowball Edge

The Amazon S3 bucket associated with the job must use the Amazon S3 standard storage class. Before creating your first job, keep the following in mind.

For jobs that import data into Amazon S3, follow these steps:

Before exporting data from Amazon S3, follow these steps:

  • Understand what data is exported when you create your job. For more information, see Using Export Ranges.

  • For any files with a colon (:) in the file name, change the file names in Amazon S3 before you create the export job to get these files. Files with a colon in the file name fail export to Microsoft Windows Server.

For jobs using compute instances:

  • Before you can add any AMIs to your job, you must have an AMI in your AWS account and it must be a supported image type. Currently, supported AMIs are based on the Amazon Linux 2, CentOS 7 (x86_64) - with Updates HVM, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS - Xenial (HVM), Ubuntu 20.04 LTS - Focal, or Ubuntu 22.04 LTS - Jammy images. You can get these images from the AWS Marketplace.


    Ubuntu 16.04 LTS - Xenial (HVM) images are no longer supported in the AWS Marketplace, but still supported for use on Snowball Edge devices through Amazon EC2 VM Import/Export and running locally in AMIs.

  • If you're using SSH to connect to the instances running on a Snowball Edge, you must already have the key pair for connecting to the instance.

  • For information specific to using compute instances on a device, see Using Amazon EC2 Compute Instances.

You can use an AWS Snowball Edge device with the following related AWS services:

  • Amazon S3 – Transfer data to an AWS Snowball Edge device using the Amazon S3 API for Snowball Edge, which supports a subset of the Amazon S3 API operations. You can do this in a single Snowball Edge device or in a cluster of devices for increased data durability.

    You can also import data that is hosted on an AWS Snowball Edge device to Amazon S3 and your local environment through a shipped Snowball Edge device. For more information, see the Amazon Simple Storage Service User Guide.

  • Amazon EC2 – Run compute instances on a Snowball Edge device using the Amazon EC2 compatible endpoint, which supports a subset of the Amazon EC2 API operations. For more information about using Amazon EC2 in AWS, see Getting started with Amazon EC2 Linux instances.

  • AWS Lambda powered by AWS IoT Greengrass – Invoke Lambda functions based on Amazon S3 storage actions made on an AWS Snowball Edge device. These Lambda functions are associated with an AWS Snowball Edge device during job creation. For more information about using Lambda, see the AWS Lambda Developer Guide.

  • Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) – Provide block-level storage volumes for use with EC2 instances. For more information, see Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS).

  • AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) – Use this service to securely control access to AWS resources. For more information, see What is IAM?

  • AWS Security Token Service (AWS STS) – Request temporary, limited-privilege credentials for IAM users or for users that you authenticate (federated users). For more information, see Temporary security credentials in IAM.

  • Amazon EC2 Systems Manager – Use this service to view and control your infrastructure on AWS. For more information, see What is AWS Systems Manager?

Accessing the Service

You can either use the AWS Snow Family Management Console or the job management API to create and manage jobs. For information about the job management API, see Job Management API Reference for AWS Snowball.

Accessing an AWS Snowball Edge Device

After your Snowball Edge device or devices are onsite, you can access them in several different ways. You can use the LCD display (used only for network configuration) that's built into each device, the Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 compatible endpoints, or the available file interface. For more information, see Using an AWS Snowball Edge Device.

Pricing for the AWS Snowball Edge

For information about the pricing and fees associated with the service and its devices, see AWS Snowball Edge Pricing.

Are You a First-Time AWS Snowball User?

If you are a first-time user of the AWS Snow Family service, we recommend that you read the following sections in order:

  1. For information about device types and options, see AWS Snowball Edge Device Differences.

  2. To learn more about the types of jobs, see Understanding AWS Snowball Edge Jobs.

  3. For an end-to-end overview of how to use an AWS Snowball Edge device, see How AWS Snowball Edge Works.

  4. When you're ready to get started, see Getting Started.

  5. For information about using compute instances on a device, see Using Amazon EC2 Compute Instances.