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I have an RDS instance that is unreachable from the public internet. After performing a restore from a backup through the console, I would like to be able to connect to the database and get a psql shell so that I can perform basic testing confirming that the restore was successful.

Using SSM Session Manager it is possible to get a shell in an EC2 instance via the AWS Console. Is there anything similar that would allow us to get a shell in a postgres RDS? Or is it necessary to create an EC2 instance inside the VPC and connect from there?

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You will need to be inside the VPC - creating an instance within the same VPC will do it, as long as the security group attached to the RDS allows the VPC private subnet. Only other way would be if you have some type of VPN that allows access to the VPC, since the RDS does not have internet access, you need to go to it basically.

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