Prerequisite: You need to have installed the python-openstackclient using the instructions given earlier. You should also be familiar with the terminology and concepts involved for managing volumes, as described in Module 6 and Module 7. You also must have sourced your OpenStack RC file on the command line you are using, as described earlier in this module.


Before the openstack client was introduced, managing volumes was done with the cinder and nova commands, so you may still find references to it on the Internet. While you still can use cinder and nova, in this tutorial we stick to the more uniform and intuitive openstack client, which works similarly to the cinder and nova commands. For more details, refer to the official OpenStack cinder and nova documentation.

You can display help for the openstack command with:

openstack help

This will print a list of options for this command. Each option listed can be seen as a ‘sub-command’. You may print more information about usage of the particular sub-command, e.g. for volume which we are going to use in this section:

openstack help volume

For supporting and further documentation, please refer to the official openstack client documentation.

In this section we are going to deal with managing Volumes:

  • Creating and deleting volumes

  • Attaching and detaching volumes from instances

  • Taking snapshots and backups of volumes, and

  • Restoring volumes from snapshots or backups


You cannot use Volumes if you are using the NeCTAR Trial Account. You need to submit an allocation request to get access to volume storage. You may read more about allocations in Module 5.


The following instructions will assume that all the Names you choose for instances, volumes, etc. have no whitespaces in them. If the names do include white spaces, you have to put the name in quotation marks when using them in the commands, e.g. “Name of resource”.

Create a new volume

You may list the volumes you already have with:

openstack volume list

This will print information about your existing volumes (or print nothing if you don’t have any volumes yet):

|  ID              |  Status  | Display Name | Size | Volume Type | Bootable |  Attached to    |
| 494e6104-a282-...|  in-use  | MyVolume     |  1   |  intersect  |  false   | a87a...         |

Creating a new volume is easy using the openstack client. You can display help for volume creation with:

openstack help volume create

to see the syntax of the command and some optional arguments.

Now, create a new Volume called MyNewStorage sized 1GB with the following command (specifying your own availability zone):

openstack volume create --description "Description of the volume" --availability-zone <zone name> --size 1 MyNewStorage


You will need to specify the same availability zone in which the instance you want to attach it to is running, or you will not be able to attach the volume to the instance.

To list all availability zones:
openstack availability zone list

A summary will be printed which shows the details of the volume you are creating (extracts shown in output):

| Field               | Value                                |
| attachments         | []                                   |
| availability_zone   | intersect                            |
| bootable            | false                                |
| display_description | Description of the Volumme           |
| display_name        | MyNewStorage                         |
| encrypted           | False                                |
| id                  | 42385945-e2...                       |
| properties          |                                      |
| size                | 1                                    |
| snapshot_id         | None                                 |
| source_volid        | None                                 |
| status              | creating                             |
| type                | intersect                            |

The status of the volume should switch to ‘Available’ soon. Re-check the status with

openstack volume show MyNewStorage

After the volume has been created, when you type

openstack volume list

you should see your new volume in the list.

If you want to delete a volume again, use this command:

openstack volume delete <volume name or ID>


When you delete a volume, you will lose all data and access to this volume. Make sure you back up all data, and securely erase the data on the volume (as described in Module 9) before you delete it!

Attaching/Detaching a volume to an instance

To attach and detach a volume to an instance, you will use the command tool openstack server. You can display help about this command by running the following:

openstack server help | grep volume

First, find the instance name that you want to attach the volume to by listing all your instances:

openstack server list

| ID                | Name                       | Status | Networks                   |
| af87a5c8-e751-... | CopyOfClientLaunchedInstance | ACTIVE | intersect-02=  |
| b720630a-e0dd-... | ClientLaunchedInstance       | ACTIVE | intersect-02=  |

To attach a volume, you may use this command:

openstack server add volume <Server-Name> <Volume-Name>

Server-Name: the name (or ID) of instance which you want to attach the volume to. Let’s attach it to the instance we launched in the last section, which is named ClientLaunchedInstance.

Volume-Name: The name (or ID) of the volume you want to attach. We will attach the volume MyNewStorage which we just created.

with the examples used in this tutorial the command becomes:

openstack server add volume ClientLaunchedInstance MyNewStorage


The openstack server add volume command also offers an argument --device. This optional argument is intended to set the device mapping, e.g. /dev/mydevice. OpenStack currently ignores this option when attaching volumes, so you should skip this option at this stage (it may be that your command does not work if you specify this option).

The command will take a while to execute. When it is finished, when you run

openstack volume list

the output should show that your volume is attached:

| ID           | Display Name | Status | Size | Attached to                                   |
| 42385945-... | MyNewStorage | in-use |    1 | Attached to ClientLaunchedInstance on /dev/vdc  |

OpenStack adds the volume as the lowest available device name: For a standard flavor instance (with a primary & secondary drive) the first volume will be attached as /dev/vdc. You can see where your device has been mapped to in the last column of the output.


You may attach several volumes to one instance. However you may only attach one volume to one instance at a time.

To detach a volume, use a similar command:

openstack server remove volume <Server-Name> <Volume-Name>


Before you detach a volume, you have to unmount it! Module 7 includes information about mounting and unmounting drives.

Now, detach the volume again that we have just attached:
openstack server remove volume ClientLaunchedInstance MyNewStorage

After detaching, if you run

openstack volume list

you will see that the status of the volume is no longer “in-use”, instead it is “available”.

Backups and Snapshots

You may create a Backup of a volume, or take a Snapshot of it. The difference between Backup and Snapshot has been explained in Module 9: The key difference is that a Snapshot creates an Image of the size your Volume has, whereas a Backup creates a backup file which has the size of your used storage, and saves it in the Object Store. Another important difference is that Backups can be used to restore the state onto an existing volume, whereas with a Snapshot, it is only possible to create an entirely new volume from it.

1. Backup and restore a volume

To manage your volume Backups, you will use the command set openstack backup:

openstack help backup
openstack help backup create


Backups will back up the entire state of your Volume. If you volume is encrypted, the encryption will be backed up with it. So after you restore this backup onto a new volume, you will also need to install the volume encryption and activate it with your password!

Before you can create a Backup, you must detach the volume from any instances. You need to first unmount the device (if you have mounted it from an instance), and then detach it, as described earlier. A volume is detached when it is in the status “available”. Check this with

openstack volume list

You will see “Backup1” listed along with its current status.

To create a backup of the volume named MyNewStorage, and save it into the object store container “Backups” naming it “Backup1” use the following command:

openstack backup create --container Backups --name Backup1 --description "Backup MyNewStorage" MyNewStorage

While the argument --description is optional, it is recommended you fill in some meaningful information about this backup here, as it will make it easier to identify it when you want to restore it.

If the container “Backups” did not already exist, it will have been created. After creating the backup, your volume will be have the status “backing-up”, which can take a while. Type

openstack backup list

to see the status of your Volume backup.

| ID                 | Name    | Description         | Status    | Size |
| eb4d23e7-861e-4... | Backup1 | Backup MyNewStorage | available |    1 |

After the backup has been done, you can see it listed in your Object Store:

openstack container list
openstack object list Backups

The Backups container has been created (unless you already had it). You will see a rather long list of files in the Backups container — which means your Backup has been saved in several object files. This should not concern you, however, as you can restore the data with only one command.

To restore your Volume to the state we just saved in Backup1, first obtain the ID of this backup, which is displayed in the first column of the output:

openstack backup list

You will need the ID (in this case, the Name does not work) to display some more information about this Backup:

openstack backup show <Backup-ID>

| Field             | Value                 |
| availability_zone | intersect             |
| container         | Backups               |
| created_at        | 2015-07-...           |
| description       | Backup MyNewStorage   |
| fail_reason       | None                  |
| id                | eb4d23e7-8 ...        |
| name              | Backup1               |
| object_count      | 22                    |
| size              | 1                     |
| status            | available             |
| volume_id         | 42385945-e2d2...      |

Note that the Volume ID (field volume_id) is displayed in the information to remind us which volume the backup is from. The ID is not very intuitive, so it is a good idea to add a meaningful description to the backup when you create it.

To restore a backup, first display the help for the backup restore tool:

openstack help backup restore

To restore the volume MyNewStorage to the state we saved in Backup1, use the command:

openstack backup restore <Backup-ID> MyNewStorage


You may also restore the backup to a volume other than the Volume you took the Backup of — the Backup is not bound to the original Volume you took the Backup of!

When you restore to any Volume, you must keep the following in mind:

  • all data on the Volume you choose as the restore target will be lost! The state of the Volume after the restore is going to be exactly the state which your Volume was in when you made the Backup.

  • the Volume needs to be large enough to fit your backup data.

  • the Volume you restore the backup onto will get the name of the originally backed up Volume. For example if you did a Backup of MyNewStorage, then restored this backup onto the Volume MySecondStorage, the volume MySecondStorage will be renamed to MyNewStorage (however the original ID of the Volume will be kept).

Backups take space in your object store, so you may want to delete old Snapshots every now and then with:

openstack backup delete <Backup-ID>

2. Snapshot a volume and re-create it

Before taking a snapshot, you should make sure that your volume is detached from any instance: It has to be in in “available” status. You can check this with

openstack volume list

To create a Snapshot of a volume:

openstack snapshot create --name <Snapshot-Name> --description "Describe the snapshot" <Volume-Name>

As the volume name you may specify the name or ID. You should name and describe the snapshot such that it makes sense to you. Let’s for example create a snapshot of MyNewStorage and name it MyNewStorageSnapshot1:

openstack snapshot create --name MyNewStorageSnapshot1 --description "First snapshot" MyNewStorage

Now, you should be able to see your Snapshot in the list:

openstack snapshot list

Take note of the ID of your snapshot, you will need it to restore the snapshot state.


When you want to restore the state of the snapshot, you need to create a new volume — it is not possible to restore the state onto an existing volume, as it can be done with a Backup.

You can create a new volume of this snapshot using the same command as described earlier to create a volume, but adding the --snapshot argument to specify the ID (the Name will not work) of your snapshot.

openstack volume create --snapshot <snapshot-ID> --description "My restored Volume" --size <Size-in-GB> [--availability-zone <zone>] <New-Volume-Name>

You may create a Volume which has a larger storage size than the original Snapshot, but you cannot create one with less.

For example, we can create a new volume out of the snapshot MyNewStorageSnapshot1 and call it MyRestoredVolume, and set the size to 2GB as follows:

openstack volume create --snapshot <ID of MyNewStorageSnapshot1> --description "My restored Volume" --size 2 MyRestoredVolume


The original Volume on which the Snapshot was based must still exist, or the Snapshots of it become useless.

OpenStack does not let you delete Volumes which have “depending Snapshots”, so losing Snapshots by accidentally deleting a Volume is not a worry. However you have to be aware that the Snapshots are only usable while you keep your Volume in existence. This is different to Backups.

The new volume will now be listed with your other volumes:

openstack volume list

| ID                     | Display Name     | Status    | Size | Attached to |
| 9f8af2bd-d5d4-45d4-... | MyRestoredVolume | available |    2 |             |
| 80cec22c-8c0c-4bd4-... | MyNewStorage     | available |    1 |             |

Snapshots take a good amount of your storage capacity, because they have the same size as the volume that was snapshotted. So you may want to delete old Snapshots every now and then:

openstack snapshot delete <Snapshot Name>