Fix for AWS EC2 instance stuck in Initializing state

In this article we will see how we can start an AWS EC2 instance for a non-stop state of Initializing.

Causes for this type of EC2 instance behavior are listed at this link EC2 tourbleshooting and  came well detailed by AWS documentation.

But in some cases like mine there is no official troubleshoot done.

So here is what i got in my System Log.


  • to get your EC2 system log you select it from the EC2 instance option list.



And here is the content of the log, just the part we are interested in:

What could’ve happened ?

  • it looks like the volume xvde has some problems. And this affects the entire host.

How can i fix this ? 

  • the host is not reachable !
  • i cannot edit the /etc/fstab file and remove the xvde entry !


 1 – Start a new instance.

2 – Detach the root volume (/dev/sda )from the bad host

  • the root volume holds the /etc/fstab file.



3 – Attach the detached volume to the instance we started at step 1.

  • choose instance form drop down list.
  • choose the volume name as /dev/sdx  (easy to spot)




4 – Login to your new instance and list the volumes attached to the instance using the lsblk command.

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  • you don`t need to format the disk, this will erase the data.

5 – Create a mount point and mount the attached volume.

  • the /dev/xvdx2 volume content are reachable to you now to edit.
  • edit the /etc/fstab file and remove the entry with the failed disk.

Save the changes to the /etc/fstab file.

6 – Un-mount the /dev/xvdx2 volume and detach it from the new instance.

7 – Reattach the volume back to your failing instance.


  • you have to attach the volume as /dev/xvda.

8 – Start your failing instance and see the System Logs.

  • your host should up and running.

Also you will need to see what went wrong with the failed disk, in my case this was due to the fact i was using EC2 instance storage for a mount point. Lucky me this was only for temp space :).



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  • John Stennar
    November 30, 2016

    Thank you so much very helpful.

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