Rolling Back Stack Updates - Tutorial

Welcome to this tutorial on rolling back stack updates in AWS CloudFormation. Sometimes, during the process of updating a stack, errors or issues may occur. In such cases, it's crucial to have a mechanism to roll back the changes and restore the stack to its previous state. CloudFormation provides a rollback feature that allows you to automatically or manually roll back stack updates.

Example of Rolling Back a Stack Update

Let's consider an example where you are updating a CloudFormation stack by modifying the instance type of an Amazon EC2 instance. However, the update fails due to an error.

aws cloudformation update-stack --stack-name MyStack --template-body file://my-updated-template.yml --rollback-configuration RollbackTriggers=[{Type=AWS::CloudFormation::RollbackTrigger,Pattern=StaticFailure}]

In the above example, we use the AWS CLI command update-stack along with the --rollback-configuration parameter to define rollback triggers. In this case, we have specified a rollback trigger based on the type AWS::CloudFormation::RollbackTrigger and the pattern StaticFailure. This means that if the update encounters a static failure, the stack will be automatically rolled back.

Steps to Roll Back Stack Updates

  1. Identify that a stack update has failed or encountered errors.
  2. Determine the appropriate rollback method based on your requirements:
    • Automatic Rollback: Enable automatic rollback by specifying rollback triggers in the update command or through CloudFormation template settings.
    • Manual Rollback: Manually trigger a rollback by selecting the stack in the AWS Management Console or using the AWS CLI command cancel-update-stack.
  3. Monitor the rollback process and review the stack events to understand the cause of the failure.
  4. Fix any issues or errors that caused the update failure.
  5. Reattempt the stack update with the necessary modifications or fixes.

Common Mistakes when Rolling Back Stack Updates

  • Not enabling automatic rollback triggers, leaving the stack in an inconsistent state.
  • Not thoroughly investigating the cause of the update failure before attempting a rollback.
  • Ignoring or neglecting stack events and status during the rollback process.
  • Not addressing the root cause of the failure, leading to repeated rollback attempts.
  • Accidentally triggering a rollback when it's not necessary or desired.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I specify multiple rollback triggers for a stack update?

Yes, you can define multiple rollback triggers using the --rollback-configuration parameter or by modifying the rollback configuration in the CloudFormation template.

2. Can I roll back only specific resources in a stack update?

No, the rollback process applies to the entire stack. You cannot roll back individual resources within the stack.

3. What happens to the changes made by a failed update during a rollback?

During a rollback, CloudFormation reverts the changes made during the failed update by deleting or replacing modified resources with their previous versions.

4. Can I manually review the changes that were made during a failed update before rolling back?

Yes, you can review the changes by examining the stack events and the differences between the current stack and the previous version.

5. Can I prevent a stack from rolling back automatically?

Yes, you can disable automatic rollback by removing the rollback triggers from the update command or from the template settings. However, this is not recommended as it can leave the stack in an inconsistent state.


Rolling back stack updates is a crucial capability in AWS CloudFormation to handle failures and errors during the deployment process. By understanding the steps to roll back updates and the available options, you can effectively manage and maintain the integrity of your CloudFormation stacks.