Convert Running EC2 Instance to EBS-Optimized Instance with Provisioned IOPS EBS Volumes


Amazon just announced two related features for getting super-fast, consistent performance with EBS volumes: (1) Provisioned IOPS EBS volumes, and (2) EBS-Optimized Instances.

Starting new instances and EBS volumes with these features is fine, but what if you already have some running instances you’d like to upgrade for faster and more consistent disk performance?

Given the two AWS features, there are two separate powers that need to be engaged to take full advantage:

  1. Convert the EBS volume(s) from standard EBS volumes into new Provisioned IOPS EBS volume(s).

  2. Convert the standard EC2 instance into an EBS-Optimized instance.

This article demonstrates how to take an existing EBS boot instance that is already running and convert it to use both of these two EBS performance features. Note that there will be some increased costs; please study Amazon’s published pricing before attempting.

Demo Setup

For this demo, we start a temporary EBS boot instance (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS). Save the instance id and EBS volume id:

    ec2-run-instances --availability-zone $zone --key $USER --instance-type m1.small ami-013f9768

    ec2-describe-instances $instance_id


Here are the steps to take a running EBS boot instance and convert it into an EBS-Optimized Instance with a Provisioned IOPS EBS volume.

  1. Stop the EC2 instance (and wait for it to stop):

    ec2-stop-instances $instance_id
  2. Detach the original (non-Provisioned IOPS) EBS volume(s):

    ec2-detach-volume $volume_id
  3. Snapshot the original EBS volume(s) and save the snapshot ids:

    ec2-create-snapshot $volume_id
  4. Create Provisioned IOPS EBS volume from the snapshot(s) in the same availability zone as the instance, specifying the new size in GB, and specifying the IOPS level that you require:

    ec2-create-volume --availability-zone $zone --size 10 --type io1 --iops 100 --snapshot $snapshot_id
  5. Attach new Provisioned IOPS EBS volume(s) to the instance:

    ec2-attach-volume --instance $instance_id --device /dev/sda1 $new_volume_id
  6. If the instance type is not already one of the ones that supports EBS-Optimized instances, then you’ll need to change it to one that is. For this example, we’ll use m1.large:

    ec2-modify-instance-attribute --instance-type m1.large $instance_id
  7. Convert the EC2 instance to EBS-Optimized:

    ec2-modify-instance-attribute --ebs-optimized True $instance_id
  8. Start the EBS-Optimized EC2 instance with its new, attached Provisioned IOPS EBS volume(s):

    ec2-start-instances $instance_id

If you had an Elastic IP address associated with the instance before you stopped it, now’s the time to re-associate it.


When you’re comfortable with the new provisioned IOPS EBS volume, delete the original EBS volume and its snapshot:

ec2-delete-volume $volume_id
ec2-delete-snapshot $snapshot_id

Terminate any test instance you started to experiment with in this demo:

ec2-terminate-instances $instance_id

Since you manually created the new EBS volume that was attached to the test instance, it will not be automatically deleted when the instance is terminated, so you must delete it manually:

ec2-delete-volume $new_volume_id


  • In order for these commands to work with these features, you must be running the latest version of the EC2 API command line tools (or at least v1.6.1.1).

  • The new Provisioned IOPS EBS volume must be at least 10 GB.

  • The size of the new Provisioned IOPS EBS volume in GB must be at least 1/10th the value of the IOPS you are requesting. For example, 1000 IOPS requires an EBS volume of at least 100 GB.

  • If you’re running an official Ubuntu AMI, then your root file system will automatically be extended to the new size of the EBS volume. Other distros might need a little resize2fs or xfs_growfs to get the benefit.

Leave a comment

Ubuntu AMIs

Ubuntu AMIs for EC2:

AWS Jobs

AWS Jobs

More Entries

Throw Away The Password To Your AWS Account
reduce the risk of losing control of your AWS account by not knowing the root account password As Amazon states, one of the best practices for using AWS is Don’t…
AWS Community Heroes Program
Amazon Web Services recently announced an AWS Community Heroes Program where they are starting to recognize publicly some of the many individuals around the world who contribute in so many…
EBS-SSD Boot AMIs For Ubuntu On Amazon EC2
With Amazon’s announcement that SSD is now available for EBS volumes, they have also declared this the recommended EBS volume type. The good folks at Canonical are now building Ubuntu…
EC2 create-image Does Not Fully "Stop" The Instance
The EC2 create-image API/command/console action is a convenient trigger to create an AMI from a running (or stopped) EBS boot instance. It takes a snapshot of the instance’s EBS volume(s)…
Finding the Region for an AWS Resource ID
use concurrent AWS command line requests to search the world for your instance, image, volume, snapshot, … Background Amazon EC2 and many other AWS services are divided up into various…
Changing The Default "ubuntu" Username On New EC2 Instances
configure your own ssh username in user-data The official Ubuntu AMIs create a default user with the username ubuntu which is used for the initial ssh access, i.e.: ssh ubuntu@<HOST>…
Default ssh Usernames For Connecting To EC2 Instances
Each AMI publisher on EC2 decides what user (or users) should have ssh access enabled by default and what ssh credentials should allow you to gain access as that user.…
New c3.* Instance Types on Amazon EC2 - Nice!
Worth switching. Amazon shared that the new c3.* instance types have been in high demand on EC2 since they were released. I finally had a minute to take a look…
Query EC2 Account Limits with AWS API
Here’s a useful tip mentioned in one of the sessions at AWS re:Invent this year. There is a little known API call that lets you query some of the EC2…
Using aws-cli --query Option To Simplify Output
My favorite session at AWS re:Invent was James Saryerwinnie’s clear, concise, and informative tour of the aws-cli (command line interface), which according to GitHub logs he is enhancing like crazy.…
Reset S3 Object Timestamp for Bucket Lifecycle Expiration
use aws-cli to extend expiration and restart the delete or archive countdown on objects in an S3 bucket Background S3 buckets allow you to specify lifecycle rules that tell AWS…
Installing aws-cli, the New AWS Command Line Tool
consistent control over more AWS services with aws-cli, a single, powerful command line tool from Amazon Readers of this tech blog know that I am a fan of the power…
Using An AWS CloudFormation Stack To Allow "-" Instead Of "+" In Gmail Email Addresses
Launch a CloudFormation template to set up a stack of AWS resources to fill a simple need: Supporting Gmail addresses with “-” instead of “+” separating the user name from…
New Options In ec2-expire-snapshots v0.11
The ec2-expire-snapshots program can be used to expire EBS snapshots in Amazon EC2 on a regular schedule that you define. It can be used as a companion to ec2-consistent-snapshot or…
Replacing a CloudFront Distribution to "Invalidate" All Objects
I was chatting with Kevin Boyd (aka Beryllium) on the ##aws Freenode IRC channel about the challenge of invalidating a large number of CloudFront objects (35,000) due to a problem…
Email Alerts for AWS Billing Alarms
using CloudWatch and SNS to send yourself email messages when AWS costs accrue past limits you define The Amazon documentation describes how to use the AWS console to monitor your…
Cost of Transitioning S3 Objects to Glacier
how I was surprised by a large AWS charge and how to calculate the break-even point Glacier Archival of S3 Objects Amazon recently introduced a fantastic new feature where S3…
Running Ubuntu on Amazon EC2 in Sydney, Australia
Amazon has announced a new AWS region in Sydney, Australia with the name ap-southeast-2. The official Ubuntu AMI lookup pages (1, 2) don’t seem to be showing the new location…
Save Money by Giving Away Unused Heavy Utilization Reserved Instances
You may be able to save on future EC2 expenses by selling an unused Reserved Instance for less than its true value or even $0.01, provided it is in the…
Installing AWS Command Line Tools from Amazon Downloads
This article describes how to install the old generation of AWS command line tools. For the most part, these have been replaced with the new AWS cli that is…
Convert Running EC2 Instance to EBS-Optimized Instance with Provisioned IOPS EBS Volumes
Amazon just announced two related features for getting super-fast, consistent performance with EBS volumes: (1) Provisioned IOPS EBS volumes, and (2) EBS-Optimized Instances. Starting new instances and EBS volumes with…
Which EC2 Availability Zone is Affected by an Outage?
Did you know that Amazon includes status messages about the health of availability zones in the output of the ec2-describe-availability-zones command, the associated API call, and the AWS console? Right…
Installing AWS Command Line Tools Using Ubuntu Packages
See also: Installing AWS Command Line Tools from Amazon Downloads Here are the steps for installing the AWS command line tools that are currently available as Ubuntu packages. These include:…
Ubuntu Developer Summit, May 2012 (Oakland)
I will be attending the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) next week in Oakland, CA. ┬áThis event brings people from around the world together in one place every six months to…
Uploading Known ssh Host Key in EC2 user-data Script
The ssh protocol uses two different keys to keep you secure: The user ssh key is the one we normally think of. This authenticates us to the remote host, proving…
Seeding Torrents with Amazon S3 and s3cmd on Ubuntu
Amazon Web Services is such a huge, complex service with so many products and features that sometimes very simple but powerful features fall through the cracks when you’re reading the…
There are a number of CloudCamp events coming up in cities around the world. These are free events, organized around the various concepts, technologies, and services that fall under the…
Use the Same Architecture (64-bit) on All EC2 Instance Types
A few hours ago, Amazon AWS announced that all EC2 instance types can now run 64-bit AMIs. Though t1.micro, m1.small, and c1.medium will continue to also support 32-bit AMIs, it…
ec2-consistent-snapshot on GitHub and v0.43 Released
The source for ec2-conssitent-snapshot has historically been available here: ec2-consistent-snapshot on using Bazaar For your convenience, it is now also available here: ec2-consistent-snapshot on GitHub using Git You are…
You Should Use EBS Boot Instances on Amazon EC2
EBS boot vs. instance-store If you are just getting started with Amazon EC2, then use EBS boot instances and stop reading this article. Forget that you ever heard about instance-store…