How to Start Docker Containers Automatically After a Reboot?

Better Stack Team
Updated on November 16, 2022

Docker provides restart policies to control whether your containers start automatically when they exit, or when Docker restarts. Restart policies ensure that linked containers are started in the correct order. Official Docker docs recommend that you use restart policies, and avoid using process managers to start containers.

Restart policies are different from the --live-restore flag of the dockerd command. Using --live-restore allows you to keep your containers running during a Docker upgrade, though networking and user input is interrupted.

To configure the restart policy for a container, use the --restart flag when using the docker run command. The value of the --restart flag can be any of the following:

  • no - Do not automatically restart the container (the default value)
  • on-failure[:max-retries] - Restart the container if it exits due to an error, which manifests as a non-zero exit code. Optionally, limit the number of times the Docker daemon attempts to restart the container using the :max-retries option
  • always - Always restart the container if it stops. If it is manually stopped, it is restarted only when Docker daemon restarts or the container itself is manually restarted
  • unless-stopped - Similar to always, except that when the container is stopped (manually or otherwise), it is not restarted even after Docker daemon restarts

The following example starts a container and configures it to always restart unless it is explicitly stopped or Docker is restarted:

docker run -d --restart unless-stopped container_id
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