AWS Snowball

  • Accelerates transferring large amounts of data into and out of AWS using physical storage devices, bypassing the Internet.
  • In the US regions, Snowballs come in two sizes: 50 TB and 80 TB. All other regions have 80 TB Snowballs only.
  • You possess the machine for 10 days for free to perform your data transfer.
  •  Features
    • Import and export data between your on-premises data storage locations and S3.
    • Snowball includes a 10GBaseT network connection.
    • Encryption is enforced, protecting your data at rest and in physical transit.
    • You can perform local data transfers between your on-premises data center and a Snowball.
  • Snowball vs Snowball Edge 

AWS Training AWS Snowball

Storage capacity (usable capacity)


Snowball Edge

50 TB (42 TB) – US regions only

80 TB (72 TB)

100 TB (83 TB)

100 TB Clustered (45 TB per node)


Snowball Tools

Snowball Edge Tools

Snowball client with Snowball

Snowball client with Snowball Edge

Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball with Snowball

Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball with Snowball Edge

File interface with Snowball Edge

AWS IoT Greengrass console with Snowball Edge

  • For security purposes, data transfers must be completed within 90 days of the Snowball being prepared.
  • Snowball Jobs

    • Import into S3
      • The transfer of 80 TB or less of your data located in an on-premises data source, copied onto a single Snowball, and then moved into S3.
      • For import jobs, Snowballs and jobs have a one-to-one relationship, meaning that each job has exactly one Snowball associated with it. If you need additional Snowballs, you can create new import jobs or clone existing ones.
      • Each file or object that is imported must be less than or equal to 5 TB in size.
    • Export from S3
      • The transfer of any amount of data located in S3, copied onto any number of Snowballs, and then moved one Snowball at a time into your on-premises data destination.
      • When you create an export job, it’s split into job parts. Each job part is no more than 80 TB in size, and each job part has exactly one Snowball associated with it.
  • Security

    • All data transferred to a Snowball has two layers of encryption:
      • A layer of encryption is applied in the memory of your local workstation. This encryption uses AES GCM 256-bit keys, and the keys are cycled for every 60 GB of data transferred.
      • SSL encryption is a second layer of encryption for all data going onto or off of a standard Snowball.
    • Snowball uses server side-encryption (SSE) to protect data at rest.
    • Every Snowball job must be authenticated. You do this by creating and managing the IAM users in your account.
  • Data Validation

    • When you copy a file from a local data source using the Snowball client or the Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball, to the Snowball, a number of checksums are created. These checksums are used to automatically validate data as it’s transferred.
  • Pricing

    • You pay a service fee per data transfer job (plus applicable shipping charges).
    • Each job includes the use of a Snowball device for 10 days of onsite usage for free, and there is a small charge for extra onsite days. Shipping days, including the day the device is received and the day it is shipped back to AWS, are not counted toward the 10 free days.
  • Limits

    • For security purposes, data transfers must be completed within 90 days of the Snowball being prepared.
    • The default service limit for the number of Snowballs you can have at one time is 1.
    • Files must be in a static state while being copied.

Other AWS Snowball-related Cheat Sheets:


Validate Your Knowledge

Question 1

You are working as a Systems Administrator for a pharmaceutical company. Your Data Engineers noticed that 80% of their on-premises storage capacity has been consumed. Migrating data manually to free up space would take too much time, so they decided to just transfer everything to AWS. With 72 TB of total data to be transferred, it would take the company more than a week to transfer it via their existing T1 connection (1.544Mbps).

What would be a secure and cost-effective solution to migrate the data in AWS?

  1. AWS Snowmobile
  2. AWS Snowball
  3. AWS Snowball Edge
  4. AWS Direct Connect

Correct Answer: 2

AWS Snowball is a data transport solution that accelerates moving terabytes to petabytes of data into and out of AWS using storage devices designed to be secure for physical transport. Using Snowball helps to eliminate challenges that can be encountered with large-scale data transfers including high network costs, long transfer times, and security concerns.

AWS Snowmobile is incorrect because this is for exabyte-scale data migration, which is unnecessary in this scenario.

AWS Snowball Edge is incorrect as you won’t be needing the additional computing capacity that Snowball Edge offers and in addition, this costs more than the regular Snowball appliance.

AWS Direct Connect is incorrect because although it allows you to provision a fast private network connection from AWS to your data center, it might cost you more to use this service, given the amount of data that needs to be transferred.


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