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How to resize an EBS volume

AWS recently increased EBS volume sizes, enabling companies to store up to 16 TB. What steps do we need to take to resize an EBS volume?

Amazon Web Services recently increased volume sizes for its Elastic Block Storage, allowing developers to create...

general-purpose volumes that can store up to 16 terabytes and up to 10,000 IOPS. These volumes also support a burst throughput of up to 160 megabytes per second. While higher speeds and greater storage are welcome additions for enterprise IT, there's a bit of work involved in resizing an EBS volume.

To resize an EBS volume, shut down your instance and detach the target volume you plan to resize. Take a snapshot and make a new, larger volume using the snapshot you created. Then attach the new volume to the instance and start it -- even if it's a root device. Be warned, however, that this method involves some service downtime.

Resize an EBS volume without halting service

The Linux-based logical volume manager (LVM) or dynamic disks in case of Windows, lets admins create logical volumes then group them into stripes -- exposing single partitions to the operating system. In addition to "bundling" multiple volumes together, LVM allows you to resize the logical volumes.

To solve the 1 TB limitation, admins use LVM to stripe smaller volumes and create larger volumes to host and run database operations. Using LVM’s capabilities allows you to add larger EBS volumes to the stripe pool and attach them to the logical volume. Then you can remove the smaller physical volume from the pool and delete it.

Once that's done, resize the logical volume. This does not require you to stop the EBS volume. And if this is performed automatically, it results in an abstraction of the logical block storage that enables live data migration between volumes.

Although the new disks come with a lot of IOPS, some users prefer to increase disk performance by striping EBS volumes together using RAID 0. This maintains parallel processing and helps users achieve better IO throughput.

Next Steps

Learn about AWS' EBS updates

Automate EBS snapshot recovery

This was last published in April 2015

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