Azure Import/Export data and Amazon Snowball

In the last days, I started to work on a Azure Import/Export data project.

My Customer has some TB of data to transfer in Azure.

After several attempts to transfer data from the Internet, they gave up and began to think to use this Azure feature.

The whole process is perfectly described in this link

Here, in my post, I am not going to describe this feature, I will try, instead,  to compare Azure Import/Export service with Amazon Snowball.

Some customers complain of this service, claiming that Amazon offers better service and also easier to implement.

I started to read up on the subject and discovered that two services are not so different and one is not easier than the other one.

The following table shows a comparison of two processes:


Azure Amazon
Device Normal disk like SSD 2.5” or HDD 3.5” SATA II/III Amazon Snowball device
Costs device It depends of disk to buy Snowball free for 10 days then 15$ per day
Service's costs fee € 67,46 flat fee per storage device handled Appliance Snowball size 50 TB: 200 $
Appliance Snowball size 80 TB: 250 $
Software tools to copy data WAImportExport: This is a client tool that you install on a local host computer to allow you to transfer data from onpremises to cloud. Snowball client: The Snowball client is software that you install on a local host computer and use to efficiently identify, compress, encrypt, and transfer data from the directories you specify to a Snowball.
Client OS for install copy tool Windows 64 bit, windows 7 or later Windows
Example copy process How do I transfer my data disks?

The first step when importing data using the Azure Import/Export service is prepare the copy machine:

  1. Client tool: Download and Install WAImportExport tool
  2. Schema files: Create the CSV files for dataset and driveset.
  3. Run command: command example.

WAImportExport.exe PrepImport /j:<JournalFile> /id:<SessionId> [/logdir:<LogDirectory>] [/sk:<StorageAccountKey>] [/silentmode] [/InitialDriveSet:<driveset.csv>] DataSet:<dataset.csv>

How do I transfer my data to the Snowball appliance?When you connect the Snowball appliance to your network and set the IP address using the E Ink display, you'll need to download three things from the AWS Management Console:

  1. Snowball client: The software tool that is used to transfer data from your on-premises storage to the Snowball appliance. For more information on the Snowball client, see the Tools page.
  2. Job manifest file: An encrypted metadata file that is used to uniquely identify your data transfer job.
  3. Job manifest unlock code: A 25-character code to unlock the job manifest file.

When you have downloaded these files, you launch the Snowball client and provide the Snowball appliance's IP address, the manifest file path, and the unlock code. A sample Start command is below:

snowball start -i {Snowball IP} -m path/to/the/job/manifest} -u {unlock code}

After you launch the client and provide this information, the client is now connected to the Snowball appliance and is ready for use. Next you'll need to identify the file directories you want to transfer to the appliance and then wait for the transfer to complete. A sample Copy command is below:

snowball cp /path/to/data/on/source/storage/device/directories Snowball/bucketname

Need copy local host station? Yes Yes
Encryption Yes Yes


In short, if you have a meeting with a client and he claims that Amazon has no complex procedure to copy data and everything is automatic, then now you know it's not true. Amazon needs some manual and pre-process procedure before start to copy data.

Any feedback is appreciated 🙂




Comments (2)

  1. Stewart Piesl says:

    Thanks Riccardo – very clear and non-biased !
    Are you planning to provide the same information for the Google Transfer appliance ?

    1. Ripom says:

      Hi Stewart, unfortunatly I don’t know Google Transfer appliance.
      Normally I blog when I work on some particular project and try to share my experience.
      I don’t have plan to work with Google at moment, but If I will, then I will post something with very pleasure.
      Thanks for your comment.

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