Take the 2-minute tour ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just attached another ebs volume to running instance. But how do I access the volume? I can't find the /dev/sda directory anywhere. Where should I look?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 25 down vote accepted

When you attach an EBS volume, you specify the device to attach it as. Under linux, these devices are /dev/xvd* - and are symlinked to /dev/sd*

In the AWS console, you can see your EBS volumes, what instances they are attached to, and the device each volume is attached as:

AWS Console

You can achieve the same thing from the CLI tools. Set the necessary environment variables:


Run the command on your current instance (otherwise, just specify the instance-id):

ec2-describe-instances `curl -s` | grep BLOCKDEVICE

BLOCKDEVICE     /dev/sda1       vol-xxxxxxxx    2011-11-13T21:09:53.000Z
BLOCKDEVICE     /dev/sdf        vol-xxxxxxxx    2011-11-13T21:09:53.000Z
BLOCKDEVICE     /dev/sdg        vol-xxxxxxxx    2011-11-13T21:09:53.000Z

It is worth noting that in both cases above - the CLI and the AWS Console - the devices are described as being attached at /dev/sd* - this is not actually the case, however.

Look at the contents of /dev:

ls -l /dev/sd* /dev/xv*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root       5 Dec 12 18:32 /dev/sda1 -> xvda1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root       4 Dec 12 18:32 /dev/sdf -> xvdf
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root       4 Dec 12 18:32 /dev/sdg -> xvdg
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 202,  1 Dec 12 18:32 /dev/xvda1
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 202, 80 Dec 12 18:32 /dev/xvdf
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 202, 96 Dec 12 18:32 /dev/xvdg

The devices are actually /dev/xvd* - and the /dev/sd* paths are symlinks.

Another approach to check for the currently available devices is to use fdisk -l, or for a simpler output:

cat /proc/partitions
major minor  #blocks  name

 202        1    4194304 xvda1
 202       80    6291456 xvdf
 202       96    1048576 xvdg

If you need to determine which devices have been mounted use mount and df - and check /etc/fstab to change the mount options.

share|improve this answer
Saved my butt. They really need to update those docs. –  MBHNYC Dec 16 '13 at 19:54
FWIW, on recent releases of Xen virtualized Ubuntu instances, the xvd* devices are not symlinked to sd* –  cbare Jun 2 '14 at 23:09
@cbare Can you confirm. When I go into my console I see it a 15 gig volume attached as /dev/sda1. But when I go into my server, the only thing I see is /dev/xvda1. There is no /dev/sd* at all! Also /dev/xvda1 is shown to be 32 gigs with 25 gigs used up. Can I be certain that these 2 are the same volumes? –  CMCDragonkai Jan 30 at 12:42
@CMCDragonkai, Not sure why you'd see different sizes but the xvd_ devices (Xen Virtual Device, I'm guessing) are mapped through the virtualization layer to the equivalently named sd_ device. See: askubuntu.com/questions/166083/what-is-the-dev-xvda1-device –  cbare Feb 6 at 22:09
@CMCDragonkai, This page says, "in most cases, the trailing letter remains the same. In some versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (and its variants, such as CentOS), even the trailing letter might also change (where /dev/sda could become /dev/xvde)." –  cbare Feb 6 at 22:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.