AWS AWS Certified

Let’s Talk About AWS Snowball

Another service you need to be familiar with for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam is the AWS Snowball. This service is part of the AWS Snow Family, which represent highly-secure, portable devices to migrate data into and out of AWS. There are two types of Snowballs: the normal one and AWS Snowball Edge. However, more on this later.

What are the use cases of AWS Snowball? It is a data transfer service that allows us to migrate data into our AWS account or out. 

You might ask “Why should I use this device when I can transfer data over the internet?”. Transferring data using AWS Snowball is quicker than using the internet, and it is also more secure. For example, you could transfer 100 Terabyte of data in less than a week. The same amount might take up to 100 days to transfer over the internet. There is a catch, though. One should use this device to transfer more than 10 TeraBytes. Otherwise, it might be an overkill and not the most economical choice.


Let us talk about the features as well:

  • It comes in two sizes: 50 TB and 80 TB
  • The data is protected at rest and in physical transit by using an end-to-end encryption
  • Import and export data from AWS S3
  • It has an E Ink display that shows the shipping information

Be aware that for security reasons, you have to complete your data transfer within 90 days since the AWS Snowball was prepared.


There is another similar device whose name is AWS Snowball Edge. You can see it in the picture above, at the beginning of the article. Edge does the same things as the normal Snowball, and it also adds some functionalities on top. Besides allowing you to transfer data, it also provides computing capabilities.

When I say Snowball Edge comes with computing capabilities, I mean you can use the following AWS services with it:

  1. Amazon S3 – Transfer data into and out of AWS S3
  2. Amazon EC2 – Run EC2 instances on the Edge device.
  3. AWS Lambda – Trigger Lambda functions based on Amazon S3 storage actions made on the Snowball Edge device.

Snowball Edge comes in two sizes:

  1. 100 TB
  2. 100 TB Clustered


  1. Transfer speeds up to 100 GB/second
  2. Can be used in clusters of 5-10 devices
  3. On-board LCD display that you can use to manage network connections
  4. Storage and compute capabilities
  5. Three device configurations:
    1. Storage optimised
    2. Compute optimised
    3. GPU


AWS Snowmobile Truck
AWS Snowmobile Truck (source: AWS docs)

Snowmobile is an actual truck. If the Snowball devices are not enough to transfer your data, AWS has a truck that allows you to transfer up to 100 PetaBytes. 

Amazon sends a truck to your data centre, and the AWS personnel configures it so you can access it and transfer your data to it. Regarding security, AWS uses multiple layers of security to protect the transfer of data. It has security personnel, GPS tracking, 24/7 video monitoring and alarm monitoring. However, you can opt-in for escort security while the vehicle is in transit. 

In conclusion, if you need to transfer up to 100PB of data, you have to use this truck. 


These services and devices are not very difficult to understand. In simpler words, they are devices that allow you to transfer your data between AWS and your data centre. Besides that, Snowball Edge also provides computing capabilities. In other words, it enables you to connect to other AWS services.

Therefore, consider using one of these devices/services if you plan on transferring a large amount of data. It is a lot quicker than transferring over the internet. As per usual, I consulted the AWS documentation and various tutorials to write this article.

Let me know what you think!


  1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Crash Course
  2. AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) – Let’s Learn About It
  3. AWS S3 – All You Need To Know About This Service

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