This topic provides an overview of the different types of ECS images provided by Alibaba Cloud, including their types and lifecycle. It also describes the common image operations. An image works as a file copy that includes all the data from the system disk or from the system disk and data disks of an ECS instance.

Type of images

ECS images are classified into public images, custom images, shared images, and Marketplace images. We recommend that you maintain a sufficient balance in the linked credit card or PayPal account to complete the payment or preauthorization. For more information, see Pricing overview.
Image type Description Is payment required?
Public image Public images are fully licensed images that are provided by Alibaba Cloud to ensure a stable, secure operating environment. They can run in all Windows Server and leading Linux operating systems. For more information, see Public images.
Only public images that run in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server operating systems are charged fees because they are licensed by Red Hat and Microsoft, respectively. All other public images are provided free of charge. The details of the fee for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server public images are as follows:
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux: Fees vary depending on the instance type.
  • Windows Server: If the public image is used in ECS instances in regions of Mainland China, the public image is provided free of charge. If the public image is used in ECS instances in other regions, a fee is charged.

The public images that run in other operating systems than Windows Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are provided free of charge.

Custom image Custom images are created from ECS instances or snapshots, or imported from your computer. A custom image can be used, shared, copied, and deleted only by the user who created it. For more information, see Life cycle of a custom image.

The account under which a custom image is created is charged a fee when the custom image is referenced as a Marketplace image.

Shared image Images can be shared among Alibaba Cloud accounts. For more information, see Share images. When you use a shared Marketplace image, you are charged a fee according to the billing method specified by the ISV in the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace.
Marketplace image
Marketplace images are categorized into the following two types:
  • Marketplace images that are provided by Alibaba Cloud
  • Marketplace images that are provided by independent software vendors (ISVs) upon authorization of the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace
A Marketplace image contains an operating system and pre-installed software. The operating system and pre-installed software have been tested and verified by Alibaba Cloud to ensure that the image content is secure. For more information, see Marketplace images.
A Marketplace image is charged according to the billing method specified by the specific ISV in the Cloud Marketplace.

Lifecycle of a custom image

After you create or import a custom image, this image is the Available state. You can use this image to create an ECS instance, share it with another Alibaba Cloud account, copy it to another region, or delete it when you no longer need it. The following figure shows the lifecycle of a custom image.

Create a custom image

After you create an ECS instance by using an existing custom image, you can configure the instance as needed. For example, you can install software and deploy projects in the instance. Additionally, you can create a custom image for the instance. For more information, see Create a custom image by using an instance.
Note An ECS instance that is created by using this custom image contains all the configuration items that you have defined. For more information, see Create an instance by using a custom image.

You can create a custom image by using a system disk or by using a system disk and data disks. For more information, see Create a custom image by using a snapshot.

You can also import a custom image from your computer. For more information, see Import custom images.

Share and copy a custom image

Each image belongs to a region. For example, if you create a custom image in China North 2 (Beijing), you can use this image to create an ECS instance only in the region.

  • You can only share the image with a user who is located in the same region. To share the image with a user who is located in a different region, you need to copy the image to the region first. For more information, see Share images.
  • If you want to use this image in a different region, you need to copy this image to the region. The image copy is independent and has a unique ID. For more information, see Copy images.

Change the image for an ECS instance

After you create an ECS instance, you can change its image by replacing its system disk.

Delete a custom image

You can delete a custom image when you no longer need it. After you delete a custom image, you cannot create an ECS instance by using this image or reinitialize the cloud disk for an ECS instance created by using this image. For more information, see Reinitialize a cloud disk.

A custom image consists of the disks of an ECS instance. After you delete a custom image, the snapshots in it are not deleted. If you no longer need the snapshots, you can delete them from the snapshot list. For more information, see Delete custom images.

APIs

You can call ECS API actions to operate images. For more information, see API overview.