Amazon CloudWatch / AWS Cloudtrail -Which suits you the best?


To gain visibility into the performance and health of your AWS resources and applications you can use Amazon CloudWatch, whereas the AWS Cloudtrail will give you the logs of your AWS account activity and the API usage for risk auditing, compliance, and monitoring.

To make it simpler to understand, just as the name suggests:

  • CloudWatch:  Watch indicates how the resources are doing.

If you are in need of Monitor & Troubleshoot | Automated response actions | Resource Allocation then go for CloudWatch.

  • CloudTrail:  Trail indicates who did what within your AWS environment.

If you need to Troubleshoot | Detect Anomaly | Security, compliance, and risk auditing, then you can choose Cloudtrail. But before making the decision, ensure you read this till the end, to make your choices right.

AWS CloudWatch

CloudWatch will monitor various activities of AWS services and resources, and also it allows you to track the report of health and performance of your application. It collects and tracks metrics, logs files, sets alarms, and automatically reacts to changes in your AWS resources. AWS Cloudwatch basic monitoring records events every 5 minutes, and you can also switch to the detailed monitoring mode as it collects data every 1 minute.

Use case for AWS CloudWatch:

Monitoring & Troubleshooting:

If your EC2 instances are running slower than usual, you can use Cloudwatch metrics for that Ec2 instance to inspect factors like CPU utilization, disc read/write operations, network, and so on…. to determine if it’s an infrastructure issue. Cloudwatch also helps you find and analyze your application logs to support troubleshooting at the application level.

Automated Response Actions:

You can configure alarms to be triggered when it reaches a metric predefined threshold, which will trigger a response action automatically.

Resource Allocation:

Cloudwatch can assist you in identifying which resources are over or underutilized, allowing you to allocate resources and costs.

AWS CloudTrail

Using AWS CloudTrail you can view the log of all actions performed within your AWS environment. It is a service that helps manage your AWS account’s governance, compliance, operational auditing, security analysis, and risk auditing. Also, CloudTrail provides a track of your AWS account activity, including actions taken via the AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, command-line tools, and other AWS services.

Use of AWS Cloudtrail


To identify the cause of certain operational issues, you can use Cloudtrail which allows you to check the event history to identify the resources that were recently created, deleted, or modified and also indicated who made these changes.

Detect Anomaly:

You can detect spikes or unusual activity and set alerts.

Security, Compliance, and Risk auditing:

You can use Cloudtrail in conjunction with other services in order to identify action in response to certain events like if a user tries to modify or perform other actions that are not allowed by your organization and trigger a response.

Example of Amazon CloudWatch & AWS Cloudtrail

Let’s see where and when you need to use Amazon CloudWatch & AWS Cloudtrail.

If anyone from your organization/company deleted all the files in a certain S3 bucket and to check the logs you need to use Cloudtrail which shows you, which user took these actions and when this happened.

If you or your operation team wants to monitor the CPU utilization across EC2 instances to ensure the alarm is triggered for the limit set, then the Cloudwatch metrics will monitor and create an alarm that triggers on the CPU utilization threshold set.

There will be more cases were you to need to identify which comes in handy to resolve the issues, therefore to get wider visibility into your whole AWS environment; you can use these two services in conjunction with each other.

Hope this was helpful to better understand your AWS environment and helps you to choose from Amazon CloudWatch / AWS-Cloudtrail. If you need any assistance feel free to Get Support!

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