AWS Secret Manager vs Parameter Store which is best for Secrets Management

AWS Secret Manager vs Parameter Store: In the realm of cloud computing, managing secrets and sensitive information is paramount for ensuring the security and integrity of applications and systems. AWS offers two primary services for managing secrets: AWS Secrets Manager and AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the features, use cases, and differences between these two services, helping you make an informed decision on which one best suits your needs.

Understanding AWS Secret Manager and Parameter Store

AWS Secrets Manager: AWS Secrets Manager is a fully managed service that helps you protect sensitive information such as API keys, passwords, and database credentials. It enables you to rotate, manage, and retrieve secrets centrally, eliminating the need to hardcode secrets into your applications or manage them manually.

Systems Manager Parameter Store: AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store provides a secure, hierarchical storage for configuration data, including secrets, plaintext data, and encrypted parameters. It allows you to store parameters as key-value pairs and securely reference them in your applications, EC2 instances, Lambda functions, and more.

Features and Benefits

AWS Secret Manager:

  1. Secret Rotation: AWS Secret Manager automates the process of rotating secrets, helping you maintain high security standards and compliance requirements.
  2. Integration with AWS Services: Secrets managed by AWS Secret Manager can be easily integrated with other AWS services, such as RDS, Redshift, and Lambda.
  3. Audit Trails: AWS Secret Manager provides detailed audit trails and logging capabilities, allowing you to track who accessed or modified secrets and when.
  4. Automatic Encryption: Secrets stored in AWS Secret Manager are encrypted using AWS Key Management Service (KMS) by default, ensuring data security at rest and in transit.

Systems Manager Parameter Store:

  1. Cost-Effective: Parameter Store is cost-effective for storing configuration data and secrets, with a generous free tier and low pricing for additional usage.
  2. Hierarchical Structure: Parameter Store supports a hierarchical structure for organizing parameters, making it easy to manage and retrieve data.
  3. Integration with AWS Systems Manager: Parameter Store seamlessly integrates with other AWS Systems Manager services, allowing you to automate tasks and workflows.
  4. Custom Encryption: Parameter Store offers flexibility in encryption options, allowing you to choose between AWS KMS encryption and custom encryption using your own keys.

Comparison Table: AWS Secret Manager vs Parameter Store

Feature AWS Secret Manager Systems Manager Parameter Store
Secret Rotation Yes No
Integration Integrates with various AWS services Integrates with AWS Systems Manager and other services
Audit Trails Detailed logging and audit trails Limited logging capabilities
Encryption Default encryption with AWS KMS Choice of AWS KMS or custom encryption
Cost Higher cost compared to Parameter Store Cost-effective with a generous free tier
Hierarchical Structure Limited support for organizing secrets Supports hierarchical structure for parameters

Use Cases of  AWS Secret Manager vs Parameter Store

AWS Secret Manager:

  • Ideal for applications that require frequent secret rotation and integration with AWS services.
  • Well-suited for scenarios where strict compliance requirements are in place, such as PCI DSS or HIPAA.

Systems Manager Parameter Store:

  • Suitable for storing configuration data, environment variables, and less sensitive secrets.
  • Great for applications that require a hierarchical structure for organizing parameters and cost-effective storage options.

Getting Started

  1. AWS Secret Manager:
    • Create and manage secrets using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or SDKs.
    • Integrate secrets with your applications and AWS services using IAM policies and permissions.
    • Enable automatic rotation for supported services to enhance security.
  2. Systems Manager Parameter Store:
    • Store and manage parameters using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or SDKs.
    • Securely reference parameters in your applications, EC2 instances, Lambda functions, and more.
    • Leverage Systems Manager Automation to automate parameter updates and workflows.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Is AWS Secret Manager suitable for storing sensitive data such as database credentials? Yes, AWS Secret Manager is specifically designed for managing sensitive information like database credentials, API keys, and OAuth tokens.
  2. Can I use AWS Parameter Store to store non-sensitive configuration data? Absolutely, AWS Parameter Store is commonly used to store a wide range of configuration data, including both sensitive and non-sensitive parameters.
  3. Does AWS Secret Manager support secret rotation for all types of secrets? AWS Secret Manager supports automatic rotation for select types of secrets, such as database credentials and API keys, with built-in support for certain AWS services.
  4. How does AWS Parameter Store handle encryption of stored parameters? AWS Parameter Store encrypts stored parameters using AWS KMS by default, ensuring data security at rest and in transit.
  5. Are there any limitations on the number of parameters I can store in AWS Parameter Store? AWS Parameter Store does not impose any hard limits on the number of parameters you can store, making it suitable for a wide range of use cases.


In conclusion, both AWS Secret Manager and Systems Manager Parameter Store offer powerful solutions for managing secrets and configuration data in the AWS cloud. While AWS Secret Manager excels in secret rotation and tight integration with AWS services, Systems Manager Parameter Store provides a cost-effective and flexible option for storing configuration data. By understanding the features, benefits, and use cases of each service, you can choose the one that best meets your requirements and enhances the security and efficiency of your AWS deployments.

External Links:

  1. AWS Secrets Manager Documentation
  2. Systems Manager Parameter Store Documentation

With this guide, you’re equipped to make an informed decision on selecting the right service for managing secrets and configuration data in your AWS environment.