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IOPS, Throughput and Latency

  • IOPS is for random read and writes, throughput is for sequential read and writes.
  • Throughput is measured in MB/s.
  • IOPS is just measured in count, no of successful random read and writes.
  • Latency is how much time it takes for the response of each request (like read, write, delete).


  • It is a type of block storage.
  • EFS and EBS are network attached storage options. Since they are network attached storage options there is a bit of latency.
  • Instance store is hardware attached storage.
EBS volume is bound to a specific AZ just like an ENI. The EC2 instance and the EBS must be in the same AZ.

To use the EBS volume in a different AZ we have to use snapshots.

  • We can create EBS volumes and leave them unattached.
  • We can only attach an EBS volume to a single instance unless they are from the io1/io2 family class.
  • By default on termination root EBS volumes are destroyed unless DeleteOnTermination is unchecked. This can be done in 2 ways:
    • Unchecking it at the time of launching the instance.
    • Set the DeleteOnTermination attribute to False using the command line.
  • Non root volumes are never destroyed

  • EBS is automatically replicated in an AZ so if the primary one goes down it can be replaced with secondary, without you knowing.

  • You have to mount a non root volume EBS volume to an EC2 instance.
  • EBS volumes support live configuration changes. So this means in production you can modify the volume type, volume size, IOPS without service interruptions.
  • EBS volumes attached to stopped EC2 instances incur costs.

EBS Encryption

  • There is no direct way to change the state of encryption.
  • Encryption is managed by AWS and has minimum impact on latency.
All EBS types and all instance families support encryption but not all instance types support encryption.
When you create an encrypted EBS volume, you get the following
  • Data at rest is encrypted inside the volume
  • All the data in transit, moving between the instance and the volume is encrypted
  • All snapshots are encrypted since snapshots of encrypted volumes are encrypted and snapshots of unencrypted volumes are unencrypted.
  • All volumes created from the snapshot are encrypted
  • You can have encrypted an unencrypted EBS volumes attached to an instance at the same time.
How to encrypt and unencrypted snapshot?

Copy of an unencrypted snapshot creates an unencrypted snapshot that allows for encryption. This feature comes in handy when you want to encrypt and unencrypted EBS volume

  • Take the unencrypted volume and create a snapshot.
  • Take the snapshot and create a copy snapshot which can be encrypted.
  • Create an encrypted volume from the encrypted snapshot.
  • Volumes can be encrypted using AWS managed keys by AWS KMS or using your own keys in AWS KMS.
  • If you have encrypted a volume using a custom key then to transfer the snapshots between accounts you need to share the custom key also so unencrypt the snapshots.
  • Note that you cannot share encrypted volumes created using a default CMK key and you cannot change the CMK key that is used to encrypt a volume.

EBS Snapshots

  • We can create snapshots of our EBS volume at any point of time.
  • It is advised to detach the EBS volume while making a snapshot but it is not a hard requirement. EBS volumes can be used while snapshots are being taken.
  • Snapshot creation is asynchronous.
We can copy snapshots across AZs and regions and then create volumes from these snapshots in that particular region or AZ. This is how we can transfer volumes from one AZ or region to another.
  • Snapshots of Amazon EBS volumes are stored on S3 by design so you only need to take a snapshot and it will automatically be stored on Amazon S3.
  • To prevent manual snapshots we can use Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager (Amazon DLM) to automate the creation, retention, and deletion of snapshots.
  • EBS snapshots are incremental. This means only the blocks that have been changed since the last snapshot are saved in the new snapshot.
  • Although EBS volumes are incremental you can delete previous EBS snapshots to clear up space and AWS will make sure that no data is lost.

Amazon DLM

  • Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager (Amazon DLM) automates the creation, retention, and deletion of snapshots taken to back up your Amazon EBS volumes.
  • If you see keywords like automated, fast, efficient, cost effective, backup with a question in EBS then go for DLM.

Volume Types

  • They are of 6 types
  • EBS volumes are characterised using size, throughput and IOPS.
  • Only the SSD volumes (gp and io series) can be used as boot volumes.
  • Both the HDD volumes do not provide any SLA for IOPS.
For small random IO operations go with SSD volumes. For large sequential IO operations use HDD volumes.

An example of small random IO operations will be database operations. Example of large sequential IO operations would be big data, data warehousing, log processing.

  • Depending on the raid type we can either increase redundancy (RAID 1) or IOPS (RAID 0) ^e75d97
    • RAID 0: striping data is written across multiple disks and increases performance but no redundancy.
    • RAID 1: data mirroring, creates 2 copies of the data but does not increase performance, only redundancy.
Class Size (GiB) - (TiB) IOPS Maximum Throughput
gp3 1 - 16 3000 - 16000 125 MiB/s - 1000 MiB/s (independently)
gp2 5334 GB 3000 - 16000
io1 4 - 16 32000 - 64000 (Nitro)
io2 4 - 64 256000 (Block Express)
st1 500 - 16 500 500 MiB/s (baseline 40 MiB/s)
sc1 500 - 16 250 250 MiB/s (baseline 12 MiB/s)


  • General purpose SSD volume that balances price and performance.
  • gp3 is the newer version of gp2.
  • For gp3 IOPS and throughput can be scaled independently of each other.
  • For gp2 IOPS and volume are linked. 3 IOPS per GB and we can have a maximum of 16000 IOPS so 5334 GB.
  • Whenever you see terms like cost effective storage in questions go for the gp family.
  • It uses a bucket and credit model for calculating IOPS.


  • High performance SSD volume used for low latency high throughput tasks.
  • When you need sustained IOPS performance or IOPS greater than 16000.
  • io2 gives more durability and more IOPS per GB at the price of io1. So always go with io2.
  • We get higher IOPS with EC2 Nitro instances.
  • 50 IOPS per GB till 64000 IOPS. So if you are given a volume of size x then maximum IOPS of that volume will be 50x.
  • Can go upto 256000 IOPS with block express volume. This is equivalent to 1000 IOPS per GB.
  • If you need IOPS > 256000 then you have to use instance store.
  • If you see the terms like databases in question then go for io family.
  • Supports multi attach (attaching single EBS volume to multiple EC2 instances). Best option is to use EFS.
    • For multi attach you have to use a different file system (cluster aware).
    • All the instances must be in the same AZ.
  • In questions try to maintain low queue length for best performance.
In gp family IO increases as the size of volume increases. In io family IO can increase independently.
EC2 Nitro
  • If you want higher EBS IOPS then you need to use EC2 nitro.
  • It is not available for all instance types.
  • EC2 nitro is a new virtualisation technology for the next generation of EC2 instances.


  • Low cost HDD volume. Designed for frequently accessed throughput intensive workloads.
  • If you see terms like frequent, sequential/large IO, high throughput operations then go for st1.


  • Lowest cost HDD volume. Designed for infrequently accessed workloads.
  • If you see terms like infrequent, sequential/large IO operations then go for sc1.

Last updated: 2022-05-05