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Creating a snapshot of your Windows Server instance in Amazon Lightsail

Last updated: August 9, 2018

A snapshot is a copy of the system disk and original configuration of an instance. The snapshot includes such information as memory, CPU, disk size, and data transfer rate. For more information, see Instance snapshots in Amazon Lightsail.

To create a snapshot of your Windows Server instance in Lightsail, first create a backup snapshot. Next, create a second snapshot using a special utility known as System Preparation (Sysprep). Sysprep generalizes the Windows Server installation so that the instance can be backed up as a snapshot. Then, when you create an instance from that snapshot, you have an out-of-box experience as if you were running that Windows instance for the first time.

These steps are covered in the following sections of this guide:

Note

To create a snapshot of a Linux or Unix instance, see Create a snapshot of your Linux or Unix instance in Amazon Lightsail.

Step 1: Create a backup snapshot before running Sysprep

When you run Sysprep to create a snapshot, system-specific information is removed from your instance. This may have unintended consequences for the applications running on the instance. Therefore, you should first create a backup snapshot before running Sysprep to make sure that you have an alternate snapshot if something goes wrong.

When you create a snapshot before running Sysprep, instances that you create using the backup snapshot have the same administrator password as the original instance. You cannot connect to those instances using the browser-based RDP client in the Lightsail console. However, you can connect using your own RDP client and the same administrator password as the original instance.

    To create a backup snapshot before running Sysprep

  1. Sign in to the Lightsail console.

  2. On the Lightsail home page, choose the name of the Windows Server instance for which you want to create a snapshot.

  3. Choose Stop at the top of the instance management page to stop your instance.

    Stop your Windows Server instance before creating a snapshot.

    Note

    Stopping an instance makes any website or service on it unavailable until you start it again.

  4. Choose the Snapshots tab.

  5. Enter a descriptive name for the snapshot, such as “Backup-snapshot.”

    Enter a descriptive name for your Windows Server snapshot.
  6. Choose Create snapshot, then choose Create snapshot again to confirm.

    The snapshot process takes a few minutes to complete.

  7. After the snapshot is created, choose Start at the top of the instance management page to start your instance again.

Step 2: Connect to your instance and shut it down using Sysprep

Now that you have a backup snapshot, it’s time to run Sysprep on your Windows Server instance. This causes the instance to shut down so that you can take a snapshot. For more information about Sysprep, see Sysprep Overview in the Microsoft documentation.

In this step, connect to your instance and run Sysprep through a preinstalled application. The application is called EC2Launch on Windows Server 2016 instances, and EC2Config on Windows Server 2012 instances.

    To connect to your instance and run Sysprep

  1. On the instance management page, choose the Connect tab, then choose Connect using RDP.

    The browser-based RDP window opens, as shown in the following example:

    The browser-based RDP client in Lightsail.
  2. On the taskbar, choose the Windows icon, or choose Win to open the Start menu.

  3. Choose one of these options:

    • On Windows Server 2016 instances, choose Start, then choose Ec2LaunchSettings.

    • On Windows Server 2012 instances, choose Start, then choose Ec2ConfigService Settings.

  4. In the Administrator Password section, choose Random (Retrieve from console), then choose Shutdown with Sysprep.

    On the Ec2ConfigService Settings application found in Windows Server 2012 instances, the Random (Retrieve from console) and Shutdown with Sysprep options are listed under the Launch tab.

    The Ec2 Launch Settings application on Windows Server 2016 instances.
  5. Choose Yes to confirm that you want to run Sysprep and shut down the instance.

    Your instance begins running Sysprep, your RDP connection shuts down, and your Lightsail instance stops running after a few minutes.

Step 3: Create a snapshot after running Sysprep

After your instance is in a stopped state, create a snapshot in the Lightsail console. When you create a snapshot of your Windows Server instance after running Sysprep, all instances that you create based on the snapshot have a unique administrator password. You can connect to those instances by using the browser-based RDP client in the Lightsail console.

    To create a snapshot in the Lightsail console

  1. On the instance management page, choose the Snapshots tab, then enter a descriptive name for the snapshot, such as “Sysprep-snapshot.”

    Enter a descriptive name for your Windows Server snapshot.
  2. Choose Create snapshot, then choose Create snapshot again to confirm that you prepared the instance for the snapshot.

    The snapshot process takes a few minutes to complete.

  3. After the snapshot is created, choose Start at the top of the instance management page to start your instance again.

    At this point, you should have two snapshots of your Windows Server instance as shown in the following example:

    Recent snapshots in the Lightsail console.

    Use the Sysprep snapshot to create new instances. Use the backup snapshot only if the original instance doesn’t function as expected after running Sysprep.

Next steps

Now that you have the Sysprep and backup snapshots, here are some next steps you should complete: