Google Compute Engine

Frequently Asked Questions

About Google Compute Engine

What is Google Compute Engine? What can it do?
Google Compute Engine is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service product offering flexible, self-managed virtual machines hosted on Google. Google Compute Engine includes Linux based virtual machines running on KVM, local and durable storage options, and a simple REST based API for configuration and control. The service integrates with Cloud platform technologies such as Google Cloud Storage, Google App Engine and Google BigQuery to extend beyond the basic computational capability to create more complex and sophisticated applications.
How does pricing and purchasing work?
Google Compute Engine charges based on compute instance, storage, and network use. We offer several compute configurations of 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 virtual core VMs to pick from, charged hourly. Compute power cost is based on how many VMs you want to use. Storage cost is calculated based on the amount of data you store. Network cost is calculated based on amount of data transferred between VMs communicating with each other and with the Internet. For more information, review our pricesheet.
Can you explain more about the value of Google Compute Engine?
We measure the compute power in GCEUs. Based on our benchmarks, one GCEU is at least as powerful as the CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron. Our analysis of on-demand pricing for similarly configured instance types shows that our customers get significant cost savings with one of the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry.
How do Google App Engine and Google Compute Engine relate to each other?
We see the two as being complementary. For example, Google App Engine allows users to control Google Compute Engine cores and offers a web facing front end for Google Compute Engine data processing applications.
How do I get started?
Sign up for the service. Once you have completed the sign up process, visit the Overview page to start learning about Google Compute Engine.

Billing and Support

Where can I send feedback?
We are very interested in getting insight into your experiences with the Google Compute Engine product and would be happy to help you work through any issues you may encounter. We have created an email distribution list for you to share your experiences and ask for help if you encounter issues:
Do your prices include tax?
No, the price sheet does not include tax.
Yes, we offer paid support for enterprise customers. For more information, contact our sales organization.
Do you offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
Yes, we offer a Google Compute Engine SLA.


How can I authenticate to the Google Compute Engine API?
You can authenticate to Google Compute Engine using OAuth 2.0.
What are service accounts?
Service accounts are special accounts that belong to a project. These accounts can be used to authorize Google Compute Engine to act on behalf of the user to access non-sensitive information (a service account is never used to access user-information). Service accounts simplify the process of authenticating from Google Compute Engine to other services by handling the authorization process for the user.

Google offers many types of service accounts, but commonly, users will want to use Google Compute Engine service accounts or Google Developers Console service accounts.
How do I create a service account?
To create a service account, create your instance with the --service_account_scopes flag. See service accounts for more information.


What are projects?
A project is a container for all Google Compute Engine resources. Each project is a totally compartmentalized world; projects do not share resources, can have different owners and users, are billed separately, and are not any more accessible to each other than your home computer is accessible to your neighbor's computer.
How can I create a project?
You can create projects using the Google Developers Console.
What is the difference between a project number and a project ID?
Every project can be identified in two ways: the project number or the project ID. The project number is automatically created when you create the project, whereas the project ID is created by you, or whoever created the project. The project ID is optional for many services, but is required by Google Compute Engine. For more information, see the Project resource.
Where can I find my project ID?
You can find your project ID on the Google Developers Console, which provides a list of your projects and their project IDs upon entry.
Can I add Google Compute Engine to an existing project?
No. Currently, Google Compute Engine can only be enabled for new projects.
Where can I request more quota for my project?
By default, all Google Compute Engine projects have default quotas for various resource types. However, these default quotas can be increased on a per-project basis. If you reach the limit for your resources and need more quota, please fill out the quota change request form or email


What kind of machine configuration (memory, RAM, CPU) can I choose for my instance?
Google Compute Engine offers several configurations for your instance. To list the available configurations, run gcutil listmachinetypes --project=<project-id>.
if I accidentally delete my instance, can I retrieve it?
No, it is not possible to retrieve a deleted instance.
What operating systems can my instances run on?
Currently, Google Compute Engine hosts Debian and CentOS images that you can use to start your instances. You can also choose to import your own image, or build your image and run it on Compute Engine. For more information, see Building a Google Compute Engine image.
What are the available zones I can create my instance in?
You can find the current list of zones by running gcutil listzones --project=<project-id>. More zones will be added as they become available.
How do I find out how much quota I have used or have left?
Run gcutil getproject which lists information, including the disk usage, for the project with the Google Compute Engine service enabled.
What kind of (virtual) CPU do I have running on my instance?
Run cat /proc/cpuinfo in your instance to see what CPU that instance is running on.
How can I send outbound emails from a Google Compute Engine instance?
Generally, Google Compute Engine blocks outbound traffic through these blocked ports. However, you can set up a mail gateway through Google using ssmtp. For more information, see the networking documentation.


How can I get the source code for the software included in Google Compute Engine images?
Google builds images based on well-established open source Linux distributions. As such, users can use standard mechanisms from within the virtual machine to download the source for any part of the system.

There currently isn't an automated way to download CentOS source RPMs. However, you can download these from the CentOS source page.

Do I need to sign up for Google Cloud Storage in order to be able to store my images externally?
Yes, to store images externally, you need to sign up for Google Cloud Storage.
Where can I view kernel source code for Google-provided kernels?

We offer a list of available kernel source code on the Kernels page.

I was using GCEL images and I don't see them now. Where are they?
We have deprecated GCEL images and recommend using Debian images. If you would still like to use GCEL images, you can make a request to the google project:
gcutil --project=google listimages

Note that GCEL images will eventually be removed from Google Compute Engine.

Persistent Disks

How do I choose the right size for my persistent disk?
Persistent disk performance scales with the size of the persistent disk. Use the persistent disk performance chart to help decide what size disk works for you. If you're not sure, read the documentation to decide how big to make your persistent disk.
What steps does Google take to protect my data?
See Disk Encryption.
Can I attach my persistent disk to more than one instance?
Yes, you can attach your persistent disk in read-only mode to multiple instances. Note that you currently you cannot attach a persistent disk to multiple instances in read-write mode.
Is there a way to migrate my persistent disks between zones during maintenance windows?
Depending on your instance type and the zone your instance is in, Google Compute Engine may be able to live migrate your instances and persistent disks out of the way of transparent maintenance events. For instances that do not qualify for live migration or those that live in zones with scheduled maintenance windows, you can still move your instances and persistent disks using the gcutil moveinstance command.

For more information on maintenance windows, see Scheduled Maintenance.

When should I use persistent disks versus Google Cloud Storage?
Both persistent disks and Google Cloud Storage can both be used to store files but are very different offerings. Google Cloud Storage is a massive file container, designed to store extremely large amounts of relatively static data which can be accessed globally, include from Compute Engine virtual machine instances.

The following chart provides some information about the characteristic specialties of each offering and what they are best used for.

Google Cloud Storage Persistent Disk
  • Accessibility
    • Global accessibility (including non-Compute Engine systems)
    • Accessible read-write from many systems
  • Scale
    • Multi-PB scale buckets
  • How to use
    • REST interface; higher latency than locally attached block storage
    • Write semantics include insert and overwrite file only
    • Offers versioning
    • Files implicit in Google Cloud Storage
  • Accessibility
    • Accessibility in one zone only and only by Compute Engine instances
    • Mounted read-write by one instance or read-only by many Compute Engine instances
  • Scale
    • 10 TB volume limit
  • How to use
    • SCSI interface; lower latency
    • Write semantics are transactional - random edits
    • No versioning; continuous edits
    • Must format a filesystem to make usable for files
Target Users
  • Content distribution for mobile, consumer, gaming, and SaaS
  • Rich media
  • Read-only input for parallelizable HPC work (e.g rendering, oil & gas, and genomics)
  • Backup and archival
  • Hadoop (via GHFS)
  • Compute Engine boot devices
  • Raw block datastore to build
    • SQL servers (e.g. MySQL)
    • NoSQL servers (e.g. Cassandra/Mongo)
    • Fileservers (e.g. Gluster)
    • Key value store persistence (e.g. Redis)


Do I have the option of using a regional data center in selected countries?
Yes, Compute Engine offers data centers in the United States, Europe, and Asia. These data center options are designed to provide low latency connectivity options from those regions, however at this time selection of data center will make no guarantee that your data at rest is kept only in that region.
How can I tell if a zone is offline?
There is a Service Status page in the Google Developers Console that shows the status of all of our zones. In addition, you can get the status of zones through our command line tool by running gcutil listzones.

Startup Scripts

When does my custom startup script run?
Startup scripts run last during the boot process, at the very end of the BSD init system.

gcutil Tools

Can I see API responses for my request in gcutil?
Yes. Run gcutil with the --dump_request_response to see JSON that is sent in response to your request.

Maintenance Windows

What are maintenance windows?
Google Compute Engine may periodically need to perform schedule maintenance on zones that may affect your instances. Depending on the zone and your instance type, your instances may experience different effects during scheduled maintenance. If your instance resides in a zone with transparent maintenance and the instance type qualifies for live migration, Google Compute Engine can automatically move your instance out of the way of maintenance events. This may cause some performance degradation but your instances will remain online through the maintenance event. In other zones or for instances that do not qualify for live migration, your instances will experience scheduled maintenance windows, where your instances will be terminated and (optionally) restarted.

For scheduled maintenance windows, Google Compute Engine will notify you ahead of time if a zone is scheduled for maintenance and ensure that alternative capacity is available during the maintenance window period so you can move your instances if you desired. For more information, see Scheduled Maintenance.

How often do scheduled maintenance windows happen?
Scheduled maintenance windows don't have a set interval between occurrences, but generally happen once every couple of months.
How do I know if my zone is going down for maintenance?
Before a zone is taken down for scheduled maintenance windows, the Google Compute Engine team will send out notices at least two weeks before the scheduled maintenance window. You can also see scheduled maintenance windows by visiting the Google Developers Console. Click on the Google Compute Engine tab and then click on the Zones tab.

Authentication required

You need to be signed in with Google+ to do that.

Signing you in...

Google Developers needs your permission to do that.