Difference between Amazon S3 and Amazon EBS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a wide range of cloud storage services to satisfy a variety of needs. Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) and Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store) are two prominent storage alternatives provided by AWS.

Read this article to find out more about Amazon S3 and Amazon EBS and how they are different from each other.

What is Amazon S3?

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is a highly scalable and long-lasting object storage service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is designed to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere on the internet. S3 is widely used by organizations and developers to store a variety of data types, including documents, images, videos, backups, logs, and static website content.

Here are some key details and features of Amazon S3 −

Objects and Buckets

  • Amazon S3 stores data in the form of objects, which include the data, metadata, and a unique identifier (key).

  • Objects can be as large as 5 gigabytes in size and are classified into "buckets."

  • Each bucket in AWS must have a globally unique name.

Scalability and High Availability

  • S3 is designed to be highly scalable, allowing you to store nearly infinite amounts of data.

  • It replicates data automatically across various Availability Zones (AZs) within a region to ensure high availability and durability.

Data Durability and Availability

  • Amazon S3 delivers 99.999999999% (11 nines) object durability, indicating that your data is highly resistant to loss.

  • It also provides 99.99% uptime for objects stored within a single AWS region.

Data Lifecycle Management

  • You can specify lifecycle policies in S3 to automate the transition of objects across storage classes or to expire them after a certain period of time.

  • This feature helps in the optimization of storage costs and the management of data based on its access patterns over time.

Data Transfer and Performance

  • S3 allows for simultaneous uploads and downloads, making it ideal for high-throughput applications.

  • Within the same region, data transfer between Amazon S3 and other AWS services is normally free.

What is Amazon EBS?

Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store) is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) block-level storage service. It allows you to establish persistent block storage volumes for Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) instances. EBS volumes are used to store data that requires low-latency access and must persist independently of EC2 instances, much like actual hard drives.

Let us now highlight some of the key details and features of Amazon EBS −

Block Storage

  • Amazon EBS delivers raw, unformatted block devices as block storage volumes.

  • These volumes serve as the root device or as data storage for EC2 instances.


  • EBS volumes survive the termination of the associated EC2 instance, meaning that data saved in EBS survives the termination of the associated EC2 instance.

  • You can move an EBS volume from one EC2 instance to another while maintaining the data on the volume.

Snapshots and Backups

  • Backups of EBS volumes can be performed using point-in-time snapshots stored in Amazon S3.

  • Snapshots are incremental, which means that only the data that has changed since the last snapshot is stored, lowering storage costs.

  • Snapshots can be used to create new EBS volumes or recover previously created volumes.

Performance and Provisioned IOPS

  • EBS volumes have a predefined level of performance dependent on the volume type they represent.

  • Provisioned IOPS volumes allow you to select the number of IOPS (input and output operations per second) required for high-performance workloads.

Elastic Volumes

Elastic Volumes allows you to change the volume type, IOPS, and size of EBS volumes on the fly without having to separate them from EC2 instances.

Difference between Amazon S3 and Amazon EBS

The following table highlights the major differences between Amazon S3 and Amazon EBS −


Amazon S3

Amazon EBS

Durability and Availability

99.999999999% (11 nines) durability

High durability within a single Availability Zone

Data Format

Stores unstructured data as objects

Stores data as raw, unformatted block devices

Use Cases

Data backup, media storage, static content

Database storage, critical applications, logs


Supports encryption at rest

Supports encryption at rest


Highly scalable

Scalable, but limited to the EC2 instance region

Cost Model

Data storage, data transfer, and requests

Volume size and IOPS provision

Data Accessibility

Accessed via unique URLs

Attached directly to EC2 instances

Primary AWS Service Association

Standalone service

Attached to EC2 instances


In conclusion, Amazon S3 is an object storage service that can store large volumes of unstructured data, whereas Amazon EBS is a block storage service that is ideally suited for durable, low-latency data storage associated with EC2 instances. Understanding the differences between these services might assist AWS users in selecting the best storage service for their specific needs.

Updated on: 16-Aug-2023


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