What Is the Difference Between EC2 and S3 Doubts Cleared?

Amazon offers a vast array of services under the AWS umbrella that cater to the diverse needs of businesses and developers. Two such services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). When it comes to designing and deploying applications on AWS, both EC2 and S3 are key players.

Despite their similar-sounding names, these services have a set of differences and unique features. In this article, we shall discuss the difference between EC2 and S3 to help you understand when to use each and how they complement each other.

What Is the Difference Between EC2 and S3

Are Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 the Same?

Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is a web service that provides scalable compute capacity in the form of virtual servers, known as instances. Its aim is to ease cloud computing with a straightforward interface, providing more control over resources.

On the other hand, Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), as the name suggests, is a scalable storage solution designed for secure and reliable data storage. It lets you backup, retrieve, recover, and analyze data from anywhere on the web. That makes it a suitable option for object storage and static website hosting.

So, the difference between EC2 and S3 is apparent – both offer fundamentally distinct types of services.

The Key Differences Between Amazon EC2 and S3

Below are the main differentiating factors that separate EC2 from S3 and vice versa.

Core Functionality

EC2 instances are virtual machines that provide computing resources, including CPU, memory, and storage. They allow you to run applications and services while offering the flexibility to choose resources according to your workload.

In contrast, the primary use of S3 is to store data objects, such as files, documents, images, and videos, as well as backup and archive data. You can save each object in a container called an S3 bucket, usually for a long time.

Data Durability and Availability

Amazon designed S3 for high data durability and availability, with auto replication of data across different data centers within an AWS region. Therefore, it is ideal for storing critical data and backups.

In contrast, each EC2 instance has some storage attached, which is more like a temporary solution. It is not a long-term storage because as soon as you terminate the instance, you lose the associated storage.

Storage Capacity

With Amazon S3, you get virtually unlimited storage capacity. But EC2 instances have a limited volume, which does vary slightly with the type of instance you choose. EC2 focuses more on providing computing power than a storage solution.


While EC2 instances are all about providing computation resources like CPU and GPU, S3 does not offer such capabilities. Instead, S3 is solely a storage service with instant access and retrieval of information.

Amazon EC2 vs S3: Which One Is Right for You?

If you want to run a website or a database on the internet and need more computing power, go for Amazon EC2. However, if you need to store lots of data, access it from anywhere, or expand storage easily, Amazon S3 will be the better option. Consider the following aspects and analyze your business requirements to make an informed decision.

AspectAmazon EC2Amazon S3
Service ProvidedInfrastructure as a Service (IaaS)Storage as a Service (SaaS)
Storage TypeInstance storage and EBS volumesSimple, scalable object storage
CostDepends on instance typePay for compute resource usage per hourDepends on storage typePay for amount of storage used
ScalabilityUser can scale up or down as per requirementsSupports automatic scaling of storage
FunctionalityCan host web applicationsCan store static web content, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files
SecurityHas security groups and supports VPN (Virtual Private Network) connectionsHas server-side encryption and access control

Additional Questions May Ask

What type of storage is EC2?

Amazon EC2 instances have a temporary block-level storage attached physically that stores caches and buffers. It is mainly a storage for information that needs to be accessed frequently.

What type of storage is S3?

Amazon S3 is object storage that lets you store data on a large scale and offers retrieval from different locations.

Does EC2 use S3 for storage?

AWS EC2 does use Amazon S3 as a storage for AMIs. Due to the better reliability of S3, you can launch a replacement for a failed instance at any time.


Despite having differences, Amazon EC2 and S3 are integral parts of the AWS cloud ecosystem. Besides, they can work together to create a comprehensive cloud computing environment. We hope this article helped you get a clear understanding. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.

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