VM Import/Export
User Guide

Importing a Disk as a Snapshot Using VM Import/Export

VM Import/Export enables you to import your disks as Amazon EBS snapshots. You can create an EBS volume from an EBS snapshot, and then attach the volume to an instance.


  • The following disk formats are supported: Virtual Hard Disk (VHD/VHDX), ESX Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK), and raw.

  • You must first upload your disks to Amazon S3.

  • If you have not already installed the AWS CLI, see the AWS Command Line Interface User Guide.

To import a disk image

  1. Use the following import-snapshot command to import a disk. You can specify the URL of the S3 bucket, or provide the S3 bucket name and key.

    aws ec2 import-snapshot --description "Windows 2008 VMDK" --disk-container "file://C:\import\containers.json"

    The file containers.json is a JSON document that contains required information.

    { "Description": "Windows 2008 VMDK", "Format": "vmdk", "UserBucket": { "S3Bucket": "mys3bucket", "S3Key": "vms/Win_2008_Server_Enterprise_R2_64-bit.vmdk" } }

    The following is an example response:

    { "ImportTaskId": "import-snap-abcd1234", "SnapshotTaskDetail":[ { "DiskImageSize": "0.0", "Progress": "3", "Status": "active", "Description": "Windows 2008 VMDK", "UserBucket": { "S3Bucket": "mys3bucket", "S3Key": "vms/Win_2008_Server_Enterprise_R2_64-bit.vmdk" }, "StatusMessage": "pending" } ], "Description": "Windows 2008 VMDK" }
  2. Use the describe-import-snapshot-tasks command to confirm that your snapshot imported successfully.

    aws ec2 describe-import-snapshot-tasks --import-task-ids import-snap-fgr1mmg7

    The following is an example response. The status shown is active, which means the import is in progress.

    { "ImportSnapshotTasks": [ { "SnapshotTaskDetail": [ "DiskImageSize": "3.115815424E9", "Progress": "22", "Status": "active", "Description": "Windows 2008 VMDK", "Format": "VMDK", "UserBucket": { "S3Bucket": "mys3bucket", "S3Key: "vms/Win_2008_Server_Enterprise_R2_64-bit.vmdk" } "StatusMessage": "Validated" ], "ImportTaskId": "import-snap-fgr1mmg7", "Description": "Windows 2008 VMDK" } ] }
  3. Use the following create-volume command to create a volume from the snapshot. You must select the Availability Zone of the instance to which you'll attach the volume.

    aws ec2 create-volume --availability-zone us-east-1a --snapshot-id snap-1234567890abcdef0

    The following is example output:

    { "AvailabilityZone": "us-east-1a", "VolumeId": "vol-1234567890abcdef0", "State": "creating", "SnapshotId": "snap-1234567890abcdef0" }
  4. Use the following attach-volume command to attach the EBS volume that you created in the previous step to one of your existing instances.

    aws ec2 attach-volume --volume-id vol-1234567890abcdef0 --instance-id i-1234567890abcdef0 --device /dev/sdf

    The following is example output:

    { "AttachTime": "YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS.000Z", "InstanceId": "i-1234567890abcdef0", "VolumeId": "vol-1234567890abcdef0", "State": "attaching", "Device": "/dev/sdf" }

Canceling an Import Task

You can cancel an import task that is in progress.

To cancel a snapshot import task

  1. Use the describe-import-snapshot-tasks command to determine the ImportTaskId of the import task you want to cancel.

    aws ec2 describe-import-snapshot-tasks
  2. Cancel the task with cancel-import-task. command.

    aws ec2 cancel-import-task --import-task-id "import-snap-abcd1234"

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