What Is the Difference between a Docker Image and a Container?

Better Stack Team
Updated on August 1, 2022

Docker image

A Docker image ****is an immutable (unchangeable) file that contains the source code, libraries, dependencies, tools, and other files needed for an application to run. Sometimes these images are referred to as snapshots due to their read-only quality. These images refer to the state of the application and all of its components and dependencies at a point in time.

Docker container

A Docker container is a virtual runtime environment where applications are isolated from the underlying system. These containers standardize the environment and allow them to be portable. This means you can, for example, share the container with a colleague.

The difference

Both images and containers are closely related entities and are part of the system defined by the Docker platform. Images can exist without a container, whereas containers can not exist without an image to run on. This means that containers are dependent on image and need and image to be able to create an environment.

Got an article suggestion? Let us know
Explore more
Licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

We are hiring.

Software is our way of making the world a tiny bit better. We build tools for the makers of tomorrow.

Explore all positions →

Reliability is the
ultimate feature

Delightful observability tools that turn your logs & monitoring into a secret weapon for shipping better software faster.

Explore Better Stack