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Version: v15.0.2

Terraform Best Practices

How to Manage the Terraform State Bucket

Enable Bucket Versioning

Since the Terraform state file for your Cumulus deployment is stored in S3, in order to guard against its corruption or loss, it is strongly recommended that versioning is enabled on the S3 bucket used for persisting your deployment's Terraform state file.

To enable bucket versioning, either use the AWS CLI command given in Configuring the Cumulus deployment, or the AWS Management Console, as follows:

  1. Go to the S3 service
  2. Go to the bucket used for storing Terraform state files
  3. Click the Properties tab
  4. If the Versioning property is disabled, click Disabled to enable it, which should then show the property as Enabled, with a check mark next to it.

How to Recover from a Corrupted State File

If your state file appears to be corrupted, or in some invalid state, and the containing bucket has bucket versioning enabled, you may be able to recover by [restoring a previous version] of the state file. There are two primary approaches, but the AWS documentation does not provide specific instructions for either one:

  • Option 1: Copy a previous version of the state file into the same bucket
  • Option 2: Permanently delete the current version of the file (i.e., the corrupted one)

For either approach, when using the AWS Management Console, the first steps are:

  1. Go to the S3 service
  2. Go to the appropriate bucket
  3. On the Overview tab for the bucket, click the Show button to show object versions
  4. Locate your state file

Next, you can proceed to either option:

Option 1: To copy a previous version of your state file into the same bucket:

  1. Select the desired (good) version of the state file that you wish to make the latest version
  2. Click the Download button
  3. Choose the location where you wish to save the file
  4. IMPORTANT: Ensure the file name is identical to the name of the state file in the bucket
  5. Click Save
  6. Now click the Upload button
  7. Click the Add files button
  8. Choose the file you just downloaded and click Open
  9. Click the Next button (multiple times), then click the Upload button

Once the upload completes, the newly uploaded file (identical to the good version you just downloaded) becomes the latest version of the state file.

Option 2: Alternatively, if you simply wish to delete the latest (corrupted) version of the state file:

  1. Click the latest version of the file (listed at the top)
  2. Click the Actions button and select Delete
  3. On the dialog window, click the Delete button

At this point, the previous version is now the latest version.

⚠️ Note: When attempting to delete the latest (corrupt) version of the file, you must explicitly choose the latest version. Otherwise, if you simply choose the file when versions are hidden, deleting it will insert a delete marker as the latest version of the file. This means that all prior versions still exist, but the file appears to be deleted. When you Show the versions, you will see all of the previous versions (including the corrupt one), as well as a delete marker as the current version.

How to Recover from a Deleted State File

If your state file appears to be deleted, but the containing bucket has bucket versioning enabled, you might be able to recover the file. This can occur when your state file is not permanently deleted, but rather a delete marker is the latest version of your file, and thus the file appears to be deleted.

Via AWS Management Console

To recover your deleted state file via the AWS Management Console, you may follow one of the options detailed in the previous section because the delete marker is simply considered the latest version of your file, and thus can be treated in the same manner as any other version of your file.


To handle this via the AWS CLI instead, first obtain the version ID of the delete marker by replacing BUCKET and KEY as appropriate for the state file in question, in the following command:

aws s3api list-object-versions \
--bucket BUCKET \
--prefix KEY \
--query "DeleteMarkers[?IsLatest].VersionId | [0]"

If the output from this command is null, then there is no delete marker, and you may want to double-check your bucket and key values. If the bucket and key values are correct, then your state file is either not marked as deleted or does not exist at all.

Otherwise, you may remove the delete marker so that the state file no longer appears deleted. This will restore the previous version of the file and make it the latest version. Run the following command, using the same values for BUCKET and KEY as used in the previous command, and replacing VERSION_ID with the value output from the previous command:

aws s3api delete-object \
--bucket BUCKET \
--key KEY \
--version-id VERSION_ID

Deny DeleteBucket Action

As an additional measure to protect your Terraform state files from accidental loss, it is also recommended that you deny all users the ability to delete the bucket itself. At a later time, you may remove this protection when you are sure you want to delete the bucket.

To perform this action via the AWS Management Console:

  1. Go to the S3 service

  2. Go to the bucket used for storing state files

  3. Click the Permissions tab

  4. Click Bucket Policy

  5. Add the following policy statement to deny the s3:DeleteBucket action for all ("*") principals, replacing BUCKET_NAME with the name of the bucket:

    "Statement": [
    "Sid": "DenyDeleteBucket",
    "Effect": "Deny",
    "Principal": "*",
    "Action": "s3:DeleteBucket",
    "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::BUCKET_NAME"
  6. Click Save

To perform this action via the AWS CLI instead, save the JSON shown above to a file named policy.json and run the following command from the directory in which you saved policy.json, replacing BUCKET_NAME with the name of the bucket:

aws s3api put-bucket-policy --policy file://policy.json --bucket BUCKET_NAME

Afterwards, remove the policy.json file.

Change Resources Only via Terraform

All resource changes must be made via Terraform, otherwise you risk that your Terraform state file does not correctly represent the state of your deployment resources. Specifically, this means:

  • DO NOT change deployment resources via the AWS Management Console
  • DO NOT change deployment resources via the AWS CLI
  • DO NOT change deployment resources via any of the AWS SDKs

Instead, DO change deployment resources only via changes to your Terraform files (along with subsequent Terraform commands), except where specifically instructed otherwise (such as in the instructions for destroying a deployment).

Avoid Changing Connectivity Resources

Keep in mind that changing connectivity resources can affect your ingest functionality and API availability.

Only update connectivity resources such as your VPC, subnets, and security groups through Terraform deployments with S3 bucket versioning enabled. Test connectivity immediately following deployment.

How to Reconcile Differences

If your state file should get out of synch with the true state of your resources, there are a number of things you can attempt to reconcile the differences. However, given that each Cumulus deployment is unique, we can provide only general guidance:

  • Consider restoring a previous version of your state file, as described in the earlier section about recovering from a corrupted state file
  • If resources exist, but are not listed in your state file, consider using terraform import (see
  • If resources are missing, but are listed in your state file, run terraform plan or terraform apply, both of which automatically run terraform refresh to reconcile state. You may also run terraform refresh directly.

How to Destroy Everything

If you want to completely remove a deployment, note that there is some protection in place to prevent accidental destruction of your data. Therefore, there is an additional step required when you truly want to remove your entire deployment. Further, destruction is performed in reverse order of creation.

Starting from the root of your deployment repository workspace, perform the following commands to first destroy the resources for your cumulus module deployment.

⚠️ Note: If you are using Terraform workspaces, be sure to select the relevant workspace first.

tfenv use 0.13.6
cd cumulus-tf
terraform init -reconfigure
terraform destroy

The next step is to manually delete the DynamoDB tables related to your deployment. Again, these tables are protected such that they are not automatically deleted by the terraform destroy command. This is a safety measure to prevent accidental removal.

However, this does not prevent manual destruction in case you truly do wish to remove them. You may do so via either the AWS Management Console or the AWS CLI. As an additional precaution, you may want to create a backup for each table in your deployment before you delete them.

Then, destroy the resources for your data-persistence module:

cd ../data-persistence-tf
terraform init -reconfigure
terraform destroy

Destroying your data persistence layer does not destroy any of your RDS resources. Next, destroy your database resources.

To teardown the entire cluster, if it was deployed by Terraform, use the terraform destroy command to delete your cluster.

If using a shared cluster and you just want to destroy the database created by Cumulus for your deployment you must manually delete that individual database. The database is named <prefix>_db.

Delete any manual backups you have made that are no longer needed.

Finally, since we tag the resources in your deployment, you should see if there are any dangling resources left behind for any reason, by running the following AWS CLI command, replacing PREFIX with your deployment prefix name:

aws resourcegroupstaggingapi get-resources \
--query "ResourceTagMappingList[].ResourceARN" \
--tag-filters Key=Deployment,Values=PREFIX

Ideally, the output should be an empty list, but if it is not, then you may need to manually delete the listed resources.

Configuring the Cumulus deployment: link Restoring a previous version: link