Ankur Mandal


Optimizing Idle Volumes in AWS with Lucidity


Ankur Mandal

6 mins

In today’s dynamic landscape of cloud, managing storage efficiently has become a paramount concern for enterprises. And one of the more significant challenges in this domain is optimizing idle volumes within AWS. These volumes, while often overlooked, can lead to substantial inefficiencies and increased costs.

For DevOps teams, the effort required to identify and manage these idle volumes is considerable, demanding robust monitoring and meticulous resource management. Let's delve into the industry challenge of optimizing idle volumes, their specifics, their financial impact, and how Lucidity can simplify the discovery process of these idle volumes..

The Industry Challenge

Idle volumes in AWS, which are essentially underutilized or unused EBS volumes, represent a significant area of wastage. The challenge lies in the visibility and management of these idle volumes, which can proliferate unnoticed across large, complex infrastructures.

For DevOps teams, this challenge translates into a continuous effort to monitor and optimize storage resources. Identifying idle volumes requires not just extensive use of monitoring tools but also a systematic approach to auditing and managing resources. Without such measures, organizations risk incurring substantial unnecessary costs and facing inefficiencies in their cloud operations.

Let's explore what idle volumes are, the challenges they present, how they can incur unnecessary costs, and how Lucidity offers a solution.

What Are Idle Volumes?

Idle volumes in AWS refer to EBS volumes that are not actively utilized. There are two primary types:

1. Volumes Created but Not Attached to Any EC2 Instances: These are volumes that exist independently without being linked to any running instances.

2. Volumes Attached but Not Mounted to Instances: These volumes are linked to instances but are not used for data storage or access.

Idle volumes can arise due to several reasons:

  • 'Delete on Termination' Option Not Selected: When EC2 instances are terminated, associated volumes persist if this option is not enabled.
  • Temporary Storage Volumes: Created for tasks like data processing or testing, these volumes can be forgotten after use.
  • Older or Deprecated Resources: Volumes linked to outdated projects or applications that were never properly decommissioned.
  • Development and Testing Environments: Volumes may become idle during periods of inactivity or when projects are put on hold.
  • Misconfigurations: Improper configurations or oversights in resource management policies can lead to volumes being improperly attached or detached.
  • Inadequate Monitoring: Inadequate monitoring and management practices may result in administrators not being aware of idle EBS volumes or not taking action to optimize resource usage.


Idle volumes, as such, can then lead to significant unnecessary expenses in AWS. Some of them can be:

  1. Storage Costs: AWS charges for EBS volumes based on the provisioned storage size, regardless of whether the storage is actively used or not. Idle volumes, which are not utilized but still occupy storage space, continue to incur charges.
  2. Snapshot Costs: If automated snapshots are configured for backup and recovery, idle volumes will generate snapshots that also incur additional costs. These snapshots, though essential for active volumes, become redundant for idle ones.
  3. Provisioned IOPS Costs: For volumes with provisioned IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second), AWS charges based on the provisioned performance level. Idle volumes with high IOPS settings result in wasted expenditure on performance that isn't utilized.
  4. Data Transfer Costs: In scenarios where idle volumes are moved or backed up to different regions or accounts, data transfer fees may apply. These costs add up, particularly in large-scale operations or multi-region setups.

And with time, these costs can quickly add up to cause a significant inflation in your storage costs. 

Why aren't they easy to discover and to take care of? - From the POV of DevOps

From a DevOps perspective, several challenges make it difficult to manage idle volumes:

  • Lack of Visibility: Identifying idle volumes can be challenging if there is no centralized monitoring or reporting system in place. Without proper visibility into volume usage and activity, it's difficult to distinguish between actively used and idle volumes.

  • Complexity of Resource Tagging: While AWS provides tagging capabilities to label resources, including EBS volumes, enforcing consistent tagging practices across all resources can be challenging. Inconsistent or incomplete tagging may hinder efforts to identify and categorize idle volumes accurately.

  • Volume Attachment Complexity: Identifying volumes attached to instances but not mounted presents a challenge due to the complexity of the attachment process. AWS resources may have multiple attachments, making it difficult to determine which volumes are intended for data storage and which are not actively utilized.

  • Mount Point Variability: Inconsistent mount point configurations across instances further complicate the detection of unmounted volumes. DevOps teams may encounter difficulties in tracking volumes that are attached but not mounted, particularly in environments with diverse or dynamic infrastructure setups.

  • Manual Review Processes: Traditional methods of manual review and analysis to identify idle volumes can be time-consuming and error-prone. DevOps teams may struggle to allocate sufficient resources for routine audits of EBS volumes, especially in large-scale or rapidly changing environments.

  • Dependency on Instance Lifecycle: The state of EBS volumes often depends on the lifecycle of associated EC2 instances. If instances are terminated or resized without proper cleanup procedures, it can result in orphaned or detached volumes that remain idle until manually addressed.

Solving Idle Volume Issues with Lucidity Storage Discovery

Discovering and managing idle volumes can be hard, but it need not be so. Lucidity addresses these challenges with its Storage Discovery tool, providing a streamlined solution to optimize EBS usage. 

One of the primary challenges when it comes to understanding EBS wastage is getting granular visibility across your complete infrastructure. There are multiple ways to get started, but with each having their own barrier. 

  • Native cloud services: The native cloud providers do not provide any services by default to acquire storage utilization. Additional services are needed to be enabled to acquire the same. For example, you can utilize AWS Cloudwatch services, but it would inadvertently lead to setting up of the agent, which becomes costly and requires tedious DevOps efforts. 

  • Manual Discovery: Running an SSH command across each virtual machine can help uncover granular storage health and utilization. But, this can become cumbersome and error-prone when done across 1000’s of VMs. As a result, it is usually taken up as a one-time exercise, rather than for a more continual monitoring project.

  • Monitoring tools: They are perfect to gain granular visibility on application performance, utilization, and cost wastage. However, this requires multiple touchpoints, and high tool costs prohibit use across the complete cloud environment.

Lucidity has solved this challenge with Lucidity Storage Discovery, It’s a simple ready-to-use executable script that helps solve these challenges by automating the entire process.

It is an agentless and free-to-use simple executable tool that can deliver insights on :

  1. Overall EBS Spend 
  2. Idle Volumes 
  3. Disk Utilisation - How much have you overprovisioned? 
  4. Downtime Risks 
  5. Overall Potential to Save EBS costs

The solution can be onboarded in only 25 minutes and takes an hour to collect your storage metrics. 

Lucidity Storage Discovery begins by providing a complete disk utilization breakup to help you understand your storage health. 


Disk Breakup: It helps you understand your wastage levers with Idle Volume, Under-utilized and over-utilized resources discovery. Here, you get complete granular visibility down to the individual volumes, disk provisioned, data utilized and its savings potential. 


Disk Utilization & Potential Savings: Lucidity Storage Discovery helps you understand your average disk utilization across your complete cloud infrastructure. It provides you with necessary details like how much wastage is due to over-provisioned resources and your savings potential.

It can in turn, help you understand your potential optimized bill, and help build your case for the need of cloud storage optimization.

By leveraging Lucidity Storage Discovery, organizations can gain granular visibility into their storage usage, enabling them to discover idle volumes, optimize their AWS EBS spend and enhance overall system efficiency. 


Idle volumes in AWS present a significant challenge for organizations aiming to optimize their cloud infrastructure. However, with tools like Lucidity Storage Discovery, the process of identifying and optimizing idle volumes becomes more straightforward and efficient. Lucidity's solution automates the detection of idle volumes, analyzes disk utilization, and provides actionable insights to help organizations reduce unnecessary expenses and improve their overall system efficiency.

For those looking to further enhance their understanding and management of AWS EBS, we recommend exploring our comprehensive eBook on Optimizing AWS EBS. This resource provides in-depth knowledge on the various optimization challenges posed by EBS and practical strategies to tackle them.

Call to Action

Working with the suite of AWS services requires making a lot of choices and considerations. The most common choices you'll have to make are around S3 storage classes or AWS EC2 instance types. However, optimizing your EBS volumes is an equally critical yet less common decision. With 10-20% of cloud costs being attributed to Block Storage (EBS), it is crucial to understand the various optimization challenges posed by EBS and how you can tackle them.

Download the Optimizing AWS EBS eBook now and start your journey towards efficient and cost-effective EBS management.

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