AWS RDS Snapshot vs Backup

In managing your AWS RDS (Relational Database Service) instances, ensuring data integrity and availability is paramount. Two key features for safeguarding your data are backups and snapshots. While both serve the purpose of data protection, understanding their nuances is crucial for making informed decisions about your database management strategy. In this blog post, we'll delve into the differences between AWS RDS snapshots and backups to help you choose the right approach for your needs.


AWS RDS backups provide continuous data protection and allow for point-in-time recovery. Here are some key points about backups:

  • Continuous Protection: Backups occur automatically during maintenance windows, ensuring that your data is consistently backed up.
  • Retention Period: You can set a retention period for backups, ranging from 0 to 35 days. This determines how long backups are retained before being automatically deleted.
  • Retention Customization: To disable backups altogether, you can set the retention period to 0.
  • Retention upon Instance Deletion: When you delete a DB instance, you have the option to retain automated backups for future restoration.


RDS snapshots provide a point-in-time copy of your database stored in Amazon S3. Here's what you need to know about snapshots:

  • IO Operations: Taking snapshots involves IO operations and can temporarily impact database performance, causing the database to be unavailable for seconds to minutes.
  • Incremental Storage: Snapshots are incremental after the initial full snapshot, reducing storage costs and minimizing data transfer.
  • Multi-AZ Consideration: Snapshots taken on Multi-AZ databases only affect the standby instance, minimizing impact on the master instance.
  • Sharing and Expiration: Manual snapshots don't expire and can be copied and shared with other AWS accounts. However, automated snapshots cannot be shared directly and must be copied first. Additionally, only unencrypted snapshots and snapshots encrypted with customer-managed keys can be shared.
  • Final Snapshot: You have the option to take a final snapshot when deleting your DB instance, ensuring a point-in-time backup before termination.

Restoring from Backups and Snapshots

It's essential to note that restoring from automated backups or snapshots creates a new DB instance. This ensures that the original instance remains intact, preserving data consistency.

RDS Snapshot Sharing

When it comes to sharing RDS snapshots, there are specific considerations:

  • Manual Snapshot Sharing: Manual snapshots can be shared directly with other AWS accounts, facilitating collaboration and disaster recovery planning.
  • Automated Snapshot Sharing: Automated snapshots cannot be shared directly. To share them, you need to first copy them and then share the copy.
  • Encryption and Key Sharing: Only unencrypted snapshots and those encrypted with customer-managed keys can be shared. If you share an encrypted snapshot, you must also share the customer-managed keys used for encryption to ensure decryption capabilities.

In conclusion, both AWS RDS backups and snapshots play essential roles in ensuring data durability and recoverability. By understanding their differences and capabilities, you can design a robust data protection strategy that meets your specific requirements. Whether you prioritize continuous backups for seamless recovery or point-in-time snapshots for specific data snapshots, AWS provides the tools and flexibility to safeguard your valuable data assets.