Understanding AWS Instance Store

Understanding AWS Instance Store

Instance Store is temporary high-speed storage attached directly to your EC2 instance. Think of it like a local hard drive for your virtual machine.

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4 min read

An instance store provides temporary block-level storage for an Amazon EC2 instance. An instance store is disk storage that is physically attached to the host computer for an EC2 instance and therefore has the same lifespan as the instance. When the instance is terminated, you lose any data in the instance store. Think of it like a local hard drive for your virtual machine.

Key Characteristics of Instance Store

  1. Temporary Storage: Instance Store volumes are non-persistent, meaning that the data stored on them will be lost if the instance is stopped, terminated, or if it fails. This storage is intended for temporary data such as caches, buffers, or other temporary files that can be recreated easily.

  2. Local to the Instance: Instance store volumes are physically attached to the same host as the EC2 instance. This provides low latency for data access but makes the data unavailable if the instance is moved to a different host.

  3. High Performance: Instance Store volumes typically offer higher performance compared to Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store) volumes, especially for I/O-intensive operations. This is because Instance Store volumes are directly attached to the underlying hardware of the EC2 instance.

  4. Not Suitable for Persistent Storage: Due to the non-persistent nature of Instance Store volumes, they are not suitable for storing critical or important data that needs to be retained even if the instance is stopped or terminated. For persistent storage needs, Amazon EBS volumes are typically recommended.

  5. Use Cases: Instance Store volumes are often used for temporary data storage, high-performance computing (HPC) workloads, big data processing, and other scenarios where high-speed, temporary storage is required.

  6. Cost-effective: The cost of instance store is bundled with the EC2 instance pricing, making it a good option for short-lived workloads where persistent storage isn't necessary.

Conclusion

Despite its benefits, it's important to note that Instance Store has limitations, primarily its non-persistent nature. Data stored on Instance Store volumes will be lost if the EC2 instance is stopped, terminated, or if it fails. Therefore, it's crucial to use Instance Store only for data that can be easily recreated or is not critical for long-term retention. For workloads that require data persistence, Amazon EBS volumes or other persistent storage solutions should be used instead.

Difference between Amazon Elastic Block Storage and Instance Store

FeatureAmazon EBSInstance Store
Storage TypeBlock storageLocal storage on the instance
PersistencePersistentNon-persistent (ephemeral)
DurabilityHighly durableNot durable; data can be lost if an instance fails or is stopped
SnapshotYes (point-in-time backups)Not available
EncryptionYesNo
PerformanceConsistent performancePerformance can vary based on instance type and workload
Volume TypeSSD (gp2, io1), HDD (st1, sc1)Depends on instance type and generation
ResizeYes (online)Not available for instance stores
BackupSnapshotsNot applicable
Use CasesDatabases, boot volumes, long-term storageTemporary data, cache, scratch space
CostPay for provisioned capacity (size and performance)No additional cost beyond the instance cost
Availability ZoneAvailable in any AZ within a regionTied to a specific instance in an AZ
AdvantagesData persistence, backup, scalabilityHigh I/O performance, low latency
DisadvantagesAdditional cost, single point of failureData loss risk, limited use cases

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