Friday, May 17, 2013

Part 15: Amazon EBS Snapshot copying- Performance, Tips and How to

Most of us know that EBS snapshots have Amazon EC2 regional scope. In case you are planning to geographically expand or have data backed up on different Amazon EC2 region at regular intervals to minimize data loss and recovery time, you can use EBS snapshot copy feature for this purpose.
The copied EBS snapshot behaves the same like regular snapshots, i.e. it can be used to create new EBS volumes which can then be attached to an EC2 instance in the destination region. Since the data is moved across regions in the form of snapshots, you will be charged only for the data transferred to copy the snapshot and to store the copied snapshot at the destination region.
Following table illustrates the time it takes to copy EBS snapshots from Different Source and Destination Amazon EC2 regions. Data used was a 50 GB compressed file stored on an Amazon EBS volume which was taken as a snapshot and transferred using EBS snapshot copy process. Since AWS keeps improving their infrastructure every day, the time taken may vary in coming months/years. But the figures mentioned below can used as an reference to plan your Recovery time objectives and migrations:

EBS Snapshot Copy vs Amazon EC2 Regions matrix :
Source Region
Destination region
File Size/Type/EBS Volume Size
Time Taken
50 GB Compressed file in EBS Volume
1 hr 24 min
US-West (Oregon)
50 GB Compressed file in EBS Volume
24 min
Europe (Ireland)
50 GB Compressed file in EBS Volume
45 min

Points to note about Amazon EBS snapshot copy :
  • Unlike the create snapshot operation, which is incremental in nature, the EBS copy snapshot operation copies all of the bytes in the snapshot every time. It is recommended to use EBS snapshot copy once a day for larger databases with Multi region DR to reduce data transfer cost . Only if your DB is not a large one and you need better RTO/RPO + your IT budget can afford it, you should reduce this frequency accordingly.
  • EBS Snapshots now support incremental copies. The first time you copy an EBS snapshot of a volume to a particular Region, all of the data will be copied.  The second and subsequent copies of snapshots from the same volume to the same destination region will be incremental: only the data that has changed since the last copy will be transferred. As a result, the snapshot will transfer less data and complete more quickly than before. It is recommended to use EBS snapshot copy across regions frequently if you need better RTO/RPO for DR.  . To know more about how EBS Snapshots works ? click here
  • Currently RDS Snapshot copy is not supported. In case you need to move data to different Amazon Region you will have to manage it through RDS dumps or implement your own programmatic replication in EC2+RDS, till AWS RDS team introduces this feature. Customers who need their database to be backed up on different region on AWS, adopt some of the following strategies, let us take MySQL as the DB and explore some techniques:
    • Configure MySQL on Amazon EC2 with Master-Slave mode. Freeze the file system and take regular snapshots in the source region. Copy these snapshots once or twice a day depending upon the RTO/RPO and DR budget using EBS Snapshot copy feature.
    • Configure MySQL on Amazon EC2 with Master-Slave mode. Have another Slave running on Destination region which asynchronously updates records from the Master in source region. Secure the entire transport using SSL or VPN between regions.
How to do Amazon EBS Snapshot Copy between Regions ?

In this article we are copying a Snapshot from US-EAST Virginia Region to Asia Pacific Singapore Region.
EBS Snapshot Copy is done using the AWS Management Console:
1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at
2. In the Navigation pane click Snapshots under the Amazon Elastic Block Store menu

3. In the EBS Snapshot page select the Snapshot ID you need to copy to destination region and Click Copy.

4. In the Copy snapshot dialog box you need to fill the following details.
Destination Region: The region where you want to copy the snapshot. In this case it is Asia Pacific (Singapore)
Description: Description of the snapshot. By default you can retain the one as shown in the below figure.

5. Click Yes, Copy button and the following dialog screen will be shown as confirmation.

6. To check the progress of the snapshot copy go to the Destination region (Asia Pacific Singapore in this case) and check the progress in the EBS snapshot page.

EBS Article Series (continued..)

Part 1: Understanding Amazon Elastic Block Store
Part 2: Understanding Standard EBS Volumes
Part 3: Understanding EBS PIOPS Volumes
Part 4: Understanding EBS-Optimized Instances
Part 5: Understanding Latency in EBS
Part 7: 10% of your provisioned IOPS 99.9% of the time
Part 8: Performance Tuning - Pre Warming the EBS volume
Part 9: Performance Tuning - EBS Striping
Part 10: Performance Tuning - IO Block Size
Part 11: Understanding Amazon EBS Snapshots
Part 12: Securing Amazon EBS volumes - EBS Encryption using SecureCloud (new)
Part 13: Amazon EBS Security Best practices and tips
Part 14: How proper EBS Snapshot Retention strategy can save costs (new)
Part 15: Amazon EBS Snapshot copying- How-to, Performance and Tips (new)

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