AWS Beginner questions

  • I'm having some trouble wrapping my head around the relationship between EC2 instances and EBS storage/S3 storage.

    From what I've read, it seems like EC2 instances tend to be initialized with EBS storage (which is charged per hour/GB). On the other hand, guides also recommend that, after setting up my instance with all the packages I want to install, to export that to an AMI (which also costs money per hour/GB to keep around.) I'm a little confused as to what data gets kept in the AMI as opposed to the EBS volume (e.g. if I have some configs/packages in my user home directory).

    Secondly, assuming I'm going to be using the same EBS volume across different runs of my instance (I'm starting/stopping regularly since I don't need it running all the time), is there any disadvantage to simply stopping rather than terminating the instance?

    (And for a final silly question: If I get kicked off a spot instance because I get outbid, do I get charged for the whole hour, even if I only used part of it?)


  • Thanks for posting your issue and hopefully someone will answer soon.

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  • At a minimum, an EC2 instance will have an EBS volume for the operating system. You can add additional volumes.

    What's the nature of the data on the EBS volume(s)? When dealing w/ transitory instances like spot instances or scaling groups, data on EBS volumes tends to be transitory.... though you could reattach retained EBS volumes to new instances.

    If it has to survive terminated instances & be reused by new instances, S3 might be a better fit than EBS (unless you need higher performance available w/ EBS SSD types).

    AMIs are templates of an EC2 instance & it's associated EBS volumes. Snapshots associated w/ an AMI are backups of the EBS volumes allowing you to return to the state at the time the AMI was created.

    RE. Stopping vs terminating: With termination, you can (but don't have to) delete the EBS volumes to save money. If you stop, you are just pausing. You could delete volumes (except the system volume where the OS lives, of course) depending on having a snapshot to recreate, ability to lose data and/or fix paths, etc.


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