Delete an Amazon EBS snapshot - Amazon EBS
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Delete an Amazon EBS snapshot

After you no longer need an Amazon EBS snapshot of a volume, you can delete it. Deleting a snapshot has no effect on the volume. Deleting a volume has no effect on the snapshots made from it.

Incremental snapshot deletion

If you make periodic snapshots of a volume, the snapshots are incremental. This means that only the blocks on the device that have changed after your most recent snapshot are saved in the new snapshot. Even though snapshots are saved incrementally, the snapshot deletion process is designed so that you need to retain only the most recent snapshot in order to create volumes.

If data was present on a volume held in an earlier snapshot or series of snapshots, and that data is subsequently deleted from the volume later on, the data is still considered to be unique data of the earlier snapshots. Unique data is only deleted from the sequence of snapshots if all snapshots that reference the unique data are deleted.

When you delete a snapshot, only the data that is referenced exclusively by that snapshot is removed. Unique data is only deleted if all of the snapshots that reference it are deleted. Deleting previous snapshots of a volume does not affect your ability to create volumes from later snapshots of that volume.

Deleting a snapshot might not reduce your organization's data storage costs. Other snapshots might reference that snapshot's data, and referenced data is always preserved. If you delete a snapshot containing data being used by a later snapshot, costs associated with the referenced data are allocated to the later snapshot. For more information about how snapshots store data, see How snapshots work and the following example.

In the following diagram, Volume 1 is shown at three points in time. A snapshot has captured each of the first two states, and in the third, a snapshot has been deleted.

  • In State 1, the volume has 10 GiB of data. Because Snap A is the first snapshot taken of the volume, the entire 10 GiB of data must be copied.

  • In State 2, the volume still contains 10 GiB of data, but 4 GiB have changed. Snap B needs to copy and store only the 4 GiB that changed after Snap A was taken. The other 6 GiB of unchanged data, which are already copied and stored in Snap A, are referenced by Snap B rather than (again) copied. This is indicated by the dashed arrow.

  • In state 3, the volume has not changed since State 2, but Snapshot A has been deleted. The 6 GiB of data stored in Snapshot A that were referenced by Snapshot B have now been moved to Snapshot B, as shown by the heavy arrow. As a result, you are still charged for storing 10 GiB of data; 6 GiB of unchanged data preserved from Snap A and 4 GiB of changed data from Snap B.

Deleting a snapshot with some of its data referenced by another snapshot

Snap A contains 6 GiB of referenced data. When Snap A is deleted, that data is merged into Snap B.


The following considerations apply to deleting snapshots:

  • You can't delete a snapshot of the root device of an EBS volume used by a registered AMI. This consideration applies even if the registered AMI is deprecated or disabled. You must first deregister the AMI before you can delete the snapshot. For more information, see Deregister your AMI.

  • You can't delete a snapshot that is managed by the Amazon Backup service using Amazon EC2. Instead, use Amazon Backup to delete the corresponding recovery points in the backup vault. For more information, see Deleting backups in the Amazon Backup Developer Guide.

  • You can create, retain, and delete snapshots manually, or you can use Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager to manage your snapshots for you. For more information, see Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager.

  • Although you can delete a snapshot that is still in progress, the snapshot must complete before the deletion takes effect. This might take a long time. If you are also at your concurrent snapshot limit, and you attempt to take an additional snapshot, you might get a ConcurrentSnapshotLimitExceeded error. For more information, see the Service Quotas for Amazon EBS in the Amazon Web Services General Reference.

  • If you delete a snapshot that matches a Recycle Bin retention rule, the snapshot is retained in the Recycle Bin instead of being immediately deleted. For more information, see Recycle Bin.

  • You can't delete snapshots associated with disabled EBS-backed AMIs. For more information, see Disable an AMI.

  • You can't delete snapshots that are shared with you.

  • If you delete a shared snapshot that you own, all accounts with which the snapshot is shared lose access to it.

Delete a snapshot

To delete a snapshot, use one of the following methods.

To delete a snapshot using the console
  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Snapshots.

  3. Select the snapshot to delete, and then choose Actions, Delete snapshot.

  4. Choose Delete.

Amazon CLI
To delete a snapshot using the Amazon CLI

Use the delete-snapshot command.

Tools for Windows PowerShell
To delete a snapshot using the Tools for Windows PowerShell

Use the Remove-EC2Snapshot command.

Troubleshooting tip

If you get a Failed to delete snapshot error indicating that the snapshot is currently in use by an AMI, you'll need to deregister the associated AMI before you can delete the snapshot. You can't delete snapshots that are associated with an AMI.

If you're using the console and the associated AMI is disabled, you must select the Disabled images filter on the AMIs screen to view disabled AMIs.

Delete a multi-volume snapshot

To delete multi-volume snapshots, retrieve all of the snapshots for your multi-volume snapshot set using the tag you applied to the set when you created the snapshots. Then, delete the snapshots individually.

You will not be prevented from deleting individual snapshots in the multi-volume snapshot set. If you delete a snapshot while it is in the pending state, only that snapshot is deleted. The other snapshots in the multi-volume snapshot set still complete successfully.