An Elastic Compute Service (ECS) image provides the information required to create an ECS instance. You must select an image when you create an ECS instance. An image is a copy of data from one or more disks. An instance image can contain data from only the system disk or from both system and data disks.

Image types

ECS images are classified into public images, custom images, shared images, community images, and Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images based on image sources. image-type
  • Public images

    Public images provided by Alibaba Cloud are licensed, secure, and stable. Public images for Windows Server operating systems and mainstream Linux operating systems are provided. For more information, see Overview.

  • Custom images

    Custom images are created from instances or snapshots or imported from your computer. For more information, see Overview.

  • Shared images

    Shared images are shared to you by other Alibaba Cloud accounts. Images shared to an account do not count against the image quota for the account. The account is not charged for images shared to it. For more information, see Share or unshare a custom image.

  • Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images

    Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images are classified into the following types based on their providers:

    • Images provided by Alibaba Cloud
    • Images provided by independent software vendors (ISVs) that are licensed by Alibaba Cloud Marketplace

    An Alibaba Cloud Marketplace image contains an operating system and pre-installed software. The operating system and pre-installed software are thoroughly tested by the ISV and Alibaba Cloud to ensure that the image is safe to use. For more information, see Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images.

  • Community images

    Community images are publicly available. Custom images can be published as community images for other users to obtain and use. For more information, see Overview.

Image prices

You may be charged for using images. The following table describes the billing methods for different image types.

Type Billing description
Public image Public images are provided by Alibaba Cloud and are billed based on the operating system.
  • The prices of Windows Server public images are subject to the instance types that you select. The price information is displayed on the instance buy page when you create an instance in the ECS console.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux public images are paid images. The price information is displayed on the instance buy page when you create an instance in the ECS console.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server public images are paid images. The price information is displayed on the instance buy page when you create an instance in the ECS instance.
  • Public images that run other operating systems are free of charge.
Custom image
Custom images are created from instances or snapshots or imported from your computer. The billing involves two parts:
  • Snapshot fee: A snapshot is automatically generated when you create a custom image. You are charged for the snapshot if you retain the custom image. The snapshot is billed based on the storage space it occupies. For more information, see Snapshots.
  • Image fee: If you use a custom image derived from a paid image, you are still charged for the custom image.
    Note If the custom image is an imported custom image that runs a Windows operating system, you are charged based on the license type of the operating system. If the license type is Aliyun or Auto, you are charged for the custom image. If the license type is Bring Your Own License (BYOL), you are not charged for the custom image. For more information about license types, see the "What types of licenses can I use when I import custom images?" section in Image FAQ.

    For example, assume that you create a custom image from an instance that uses a paid image, and then you create an instance from the custom image. You are charged for the custom image in addition to the snapshot.

Shared image

Shared images are shared to you by other Alibaba Cloud accounts. If you use a shared image that is derived from a paid image, you are charged for the shared image.

For example, if you use a paid image that is shared to you by another Alibaba Cloud account to create an instance, you are charged for the shared image.

Alibaba Cloud Marketplace image Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images are provided by independent software vendors (ISVs). The prices are displayed on the buy page of Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images.

For more information, see Images and the "FAQ about the commercial availability of images" section of the Image FAQ topic.

Select and find images

You can select an image based on the region, image type, image price, operating system, and built-in software. For more information, see Select an image.

You can find an image based on its type, name, ID, or the ID of the snapshot from which the image was created. Then, you can use the image to create instances or perform other operations. For more information, see Find an image.

Replace the image of an instance

After you create an instance, you can replace its operating system by replacing its system disk.

Limits

For information about the limits and quotas of images, see the "Image limits" section of the Limits topic.

API operations

You can call API operations to manage images. For more information, see the "Images" section of the List of operations by function topic.