Deploying AWS EC2 Instances with Small Root Volumes

Learn how to deploy AWS EC2 instances using minimal AMIs with small root volumes. Discover the Amazon Linux Minimal AMI and its 2 GB root volume.



When you deploy an Amazon EC2 instance, you must select an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) to deploy it from. The AMI includes the operating system, and sometimes pre-installed applications from vendors.

The common default AMIs that are featured in the AWS Management Console include Amazon Linux, Ubuntu Server, Debian, SUSE Linux, Red Hat, and Microsoft Windows. However, there is actually a massive library of additional AMIs available, both from the AWS Marketplace, as well as community-created public images.


Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is used as the network storage mechanism for EC2 virtual machines. Each AMI has a default block storage volume size that it uses to deploy new volumes from. EBS root volumes can be increased beyond the AMI base size, but they cannot be smaller.

The default AMIs provided from AWS have sizes of 8 GB for Amazon Linux, Ubuntu, and Debian, 10 GB for Red Hat and SUSE Linux, and 30 GB for Windows Server.

If you try to specify a smaller EBS volume size, for the root volume, you’ll receive an error message stating “volume is smaller than snapshot, must be at least 8.”


What if you wanted to deploy an EC2 instance, with an EBS root volume smaller than 8 GB though? Is this even possible?

Amazon Linux provides a “minimal” AMI that has a 2 GB root volume size. While 2 GB may not be enough for some workloads, you can always increase it to 3-4 GB to allow for small container images, log storage, cache files, and OS updates. To find the Amazon Linux Minimal image, follow these steps:

  • Click on Browse More AMIs
  • In the search box, type “al2023 minimal
  • Click on the Community AMIs tab

In the search results, you should be able to find an image similar to the one in the screenshot below. You’ll want to ensure that the image is from AWS as a “verified provider.” You’ll also want to validate the Publish Date of the image, to ensure that it’s the newest version available.


There’s also an Ubuntu Server Minimal AMI available. However, I unfortunately discovered that the root volume size for this image is still 8 GB.

There may be other AMIs available with smaller EBS root volume sizes. However, the Amazon Linux Minimal image is provided by and regularly updated by Amazon.

Need Expert Help with Your AWS EC2 Deployments? StratusGrid Can Help

Need assistance deploying EC2 instances with optimal root volume sizes? Contact StratusGrid for a consultation.

Our team of AWS experts can help you navigate AMI selections, optimize storage configurations, and ensure your deployments are tailored to your specific needs.

Reach out to StratusGrid today and take the next step towards efficient and effective cloud management.

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