I need help duplicating Amazon AWS EC2 instances


I’m just getting started with AWS EC2 and not entirely sure I understand it.

From what I’ve read, an instance is basically a virtual server, and you should be able to somehow “duplicate” that virtual server from the AWS console somehow. Then use Load Balancer or Elastic IP to route requests to one or the other.

The problem comes in when I try to “duplicate” my instance. I tried a million things, but the only thing that got me close was creating an AMI of my current instance then launching an instance from that, but when I did that, the new instance was basically the default server config. None of my files were there.

What am I doing wrong?


You don’t really “duplicate” the instance. You more copy it as a “blueprint”. Then when you boot an instance later, you can base that instance off of your snapshot or “blueprint”.

The ELB can be configured to point at any instance you want, so when you boot a new server off this snapshot/”blueprint” it can be automatically added to the ELB.

Now that is cleared up, to answer the question:

  1. I would make sure to use EBS backed instances. You can find them all over. But not S3 backed. If they EBS backed then the exact volume with all your configs will be there.
  2. I would make sure your instance is configured how you like it and has proper scripts installed for when it boots up. You will want your services started, config files pulled down from repositories, etc. The config files should be there, but I would not rely on that. If you have them in a repository and then make a startup script to pull them down and copy them where you want, you will be in much better shape.
  3. With the instance running and selected, click on the instance actions drop down and click “Create AMI”
  4. The instance will REBOOT. So be careful.
  5. Launch a new instance. And pick the AMI/Snapshot that #3 created.
  6. Done. Check this https://stackoverflow.com/a/8919031/667608 that could help with the above.

Oh, one other thing, if you have any EBS Volumes attached, they will also be copied, but you will need to mount them once the server boots.

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