Understanding the Main Route Table in AWS VPC

all aws aws networking aws vpc Feb 16, 2024


In this post, we'll break down the concept of the Main Route Table in AWS VPC into simple terms so we can understand its role and how to use it effectively.

What is a VPC?

Before diving into the main route table, let's quickly understand what a VPC is. A Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is a segregated portion of the AWS cloud where we can launch AWS resources in a virtual network that we define. Think of it as our own private corner in the vast AWS environment, where we have complete control over the network configuration.

Enter the Main Route Table

Every VPC we create comes with something called a "Main Route Table." This table is like the brain of our VPC's networking, deciding where network traffic from our VPC's resources (like EC2 instances) should go.

The Role of the Main Route Table

The main route table controls how traffic is routed within our VPC and between our VPC and other networks. By default, it contains a local route that allows communication between all instances within the VPC. This means that if two instances are in the same VPC, they can talk to each other right out of the box, thanks to this default route.

Subnet Associations

By default, no subnets are not associated explicitly with the main route table. However, all subnets within a VPC are associated implicitly with the main route table unless we explicitly associate them with another route table. This means that the routing behaviour of the main route table applies to all subnets not associated with any other route table.

Customizing Our Route Table

While the default settings are useful, the real power lies in customization. We can add, modify, or delete routes in the main route table to tailor the network traffic flow according to our needs. For instance, if we want our instances to access the internet, you would add a route that directs internet-bound traffic to an Internet Gateway (IGW) connected to your VPC.

Example Custom Route:

  • Destination: (This represents all IPv4 addresses, essentially the entire internet.)
  • Target: The ID of your Internet Gateway.

Adding this route tells our VPC that any outbound traffic meant for the internet should be routed through the specified Internet Gateway.


Best Practices

  • Security and Efficiency: Use separate route tables for public and private subnets to enhance security and control over internet access.
  • Organization and Maintenance: Regularly review your route tables to ensure they meet your current network requirements, removing unnecessary routes that might pose security risks or cause network inefficiencies.


The main route table in our AWS VPC is a powerful tool for managing network traffic, offering both simplicity for beginners and robust customization options for advanced users. By understanding and leveraging this feature, you can ensure that your AWS resources communicate efficiently and securely, both internally and with the outside world.

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