Move EBS AMI Between Regions

Posted on Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Amazon created a copy tool that is much simpler to use than this guide. 
I made another guide that goes over the new tool at

Should the new tool not work for you this older guide may be helpful

I recently had a need to move an AMI from the AWS east-1 regions to the west-2 region.

AWS does have a command line tool, ec2-migrate-image, for moving AMIs between regions, but it does not work for EBS backed AMIs (which I prefer to use)   For more information on this command line tool go to [1]

I use Ubuntu EBS images.  These AMIs are listed at [2]  In particular I use 12.04 which can be located at

If you look for
us-east-1 64 bits EBS you find the AMI 
us-west-2  64 bits EBS you find the AMI

I bring this up because If I am going to copy an Ubuntu EBS machine from one region to another its important to know which linux kernel needs to be applied in that region.

To show how this all works I am first going to launch an ubuntu 12.04 EBS instance in the East coast.

Launch Instance

From the EC2 console select AMIs then select, from the pull down, all images, All platforms and enter ami-fd20ad94.  Then click Enter.

Select the Ubuntu AMI and click Launch

Select 1 instance and make it a T1.micro and click Continue

Leave the defaults and just click Continue

Leave the defaults and just click Continue

Leave the defaults and just click Continue

Choose your key pair and click continue

Select the default security group and click continue

Click Launch

SSH into this instance  (make sure your security group allows port 22)

       > ssh –i .ec2/pats-keypair.pem

I like to create a file just to make sure I really made a copy.  So use touch to make a file

       >  touch test_file.txt

Convert the machine to an AMI

In order to move this machine to the West Region we first need to turn it into an AMI in the east region

From the EC2 console click on instances and select the instance that was just made.

Click on Actions and select “Create Image (EBS AMI)”

Leave the defaults and click Yes, Create

Click on AMIs select Owned by me and you should see the AMI you just made.

In my case ami-c30b84aa 

Select Snapshots and search for the AMI you just created (in my case ami-c30b84a)

Select the snapshot

Click on Copy

Select Us West Oregon,  Enter a Description and click yes, Copy

Copy has been initiated

Switch over the US West Oregon Region

Now before you get too far you need to determine which linux kernel you need to use.  Since I am using Ubuntu I want my kernel to be the same as the kernel ubuntu uses in this region for the same type of server (64-bit EBS)

To find out which kernel to use look up the regions AMI.
 In this case the

Click on AMIs and search for ami-7e2da54e
And select it.

The kernel id for this ami is aki-98e26fa8

Now to create an ami from the copied snapshot

Select Snapshots,  Enter in “Test” to narrow the search.   Select the snapshot that was moved from the east coast and click on Create Image

Give it a name and select x86_64 then select the kernel ID aki-98e26fa8

Click Yes, Create

Click on AMIs select the AMI that was just made and click Launch.

Use the same simple procedure to launch this instance in the west coast as was done in the east coast.

Or for your command line junkies, like me, you can simply run this command.

(remember your keys on the east region do not apply to the west, each region has its own set of keys… so you may need to make some new keys)

       > ec2-run-instances ami-dee76cee -b /dev/sda1=:8:true -k west-pats-keypair -t t1.micro --availability-zone us-west-2a --region us-west-2

Click on Instances and select the newly made instance and find its DNS

Log into it  

       >  ssh -i .ec2/west-pats-keypair.pem

After logging in I do a quick ls –alh

And you can see the test file that was made.

So that is the way to copy an EBS AMI over to another region.  I wish there was a simpler way.

[1]  ec2-migrate-image command line tool
 Visited 12/2012
[2]  Ubuntu Cloud Images
 Visited 12/2012

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