Troubleshooting Common Docker Issues: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Welcome to this comprehensive guide that is specially designed to help you troubleshoot common Docker issues. I’m here to take you through this process step by step, breaking down the complexities into simple, understandable terms. By the end of this tutorial, you will have learned how to identify and solve the most typical Docker problems.


First, let’s ensure we are on the same page. Docker is an open-source platform designed to make it easier to create, deploy, and run applications by using containers. Containers allow developers to package up an application with all the parts it needs, such as libraries and other dependencies, and ship it all out as one package. But like any technology, sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. That’s where troubleshooting comes in.

Docker Installation Issues

When you first start with Docker, you might encounter problems during the installation process. Here are some common issues and how to solve them:

Docker doesn’t start

Sometimes, Docker may fail to start after installation. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as compatibility issues or problems with Docker’s services.


First, you need to ensure your system meets the minimum requirements for Docker. If it does, then you should try to restart Docker services. On Linux, you can do this by running the following command in your terminal:

sudo service docker restart

If the problem persists, try reinstalling Docker. Uninstall Docker first, then download the latest version from the Docker website and install it again.

Docker command not found

After a successful installation, you might find that your terminal does not recognize Docker commands.


This is usually a PATH issue. Docker might not be in your system’s PATH, which means your terminal doesn’t know where to find the Docker executable. You can add Docker to your PATH by adding the Docker directory to your system’s PATH environment variable. If you installed Docker using the default settings, the directory should be /usr/local/bin/docker.

Docker Container Issues

Once you have Docker installed, you’ll probably start working with containers. Here are some common issues you might encounter with Docker containers:

Docker container doesn’t start

This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as a problem with the image you’re using, issues with Docker’s services, or even configuration issues.


First, check the Docker logs for any error messages. You can view the logs of a container using the docker logs [container-id] command. The logs should give you an indication of what’s going wrong.

If there are no helpful error messages, try running the image with a different command to see if that works. For example, if you’re trying to run a Node.js app, you could try running docker run -it [image] /bin/bash to start a Bash shell in the container. If this works, the issue might be with the command you’re trying to run in the container.

Docker container exits immediately

Sometimes, a Docker container might start but then immediately exit.


This often happens when the main process in the container crashes or exits. The Docker logs (docker logs [container-id]) will be helpful in this case as well.

In general, Docker containers only run as long as the command you specify is running. Once the command exits, the container will stop. So if you’re running a command that completes quickly (like ls or echo), the container will start and stop almost instantly. To keep the container running, try running a command that doesn’t exit immediately. For example, you could run a shell in the container, or start a web server.

Docker Image Issues

Docker images are the basis of containers. In the Docker world, an image is an immutable binary file including the application and all other dependencies such as libraries, binaries, and instructions necessary for running the application. Here are some common issues related to Docker images:

Docker image not found

When you try to run a container from an image, you might get an error message saying that Docker can’t find the image.


First, you need to make sure that the image exists on your machine. You can do this by running the docker images command, which will list all the images on your machine.

If the image isn’t on your machine, you’ll need to pull it from a Docker registry. The Docker Hub is the default registry, but there are others like Google Container Registry and Amazon Elastic Container Registry. You can pull an image with the docker pull [image] command.

If the image is on your machine, make sure you’re spelling the image name correctly. Docker image names are case-sensitive, so make sure you’re using the correct case.

Dockerfile build fails

When you’re building an image from a Dockerfile, the build might fail.


The first thing to do when your Dockerfile build fails is to look at the error message. Docker will tell you what line of the Dockerfile caused the build to fail, and it will often give you an error message explaining what went wrong.

If the error message isn’t clear, there are a few things you can try:

  • Make sure your Dockerfile syntax is correct. Dockerfiles are very sensitive to syntax, and a misplaced character can cause the build to fail.
  • Make sure all the files and directories you’re copying into the image exist.
  • If you’re downloading files from the internet during the build, make sure the URLs are correct and the files exist.

Docker Network Issues

Docker networking allows the containers to communicate with each other and also with the outside world. Here are some common Docker networking issues:

Docker container can’t communicate with each other

When running multiple containers, you might find that they can’t communicate with each other.


By default, Docker containers can communicate with each other if they’re on the same network. You can specify a network when you run a container with the --network option. For example, docker run --network=my-network [image].

If your containers are on different networks, they won’t be able to communicate directly. You can solve this by connecting them to the same network, or by creating a network bridge.

Docker container can’t access the internet

Sometimes, a Docker container might not be able to access the internet.


This is often a DNS issue. Docker uses a default DNS server that might not work in all environments. You can specify a different DNS server for Docker to use by editing the Docker daemon configuration file and adding the dns option. For example:

  "dns": ["", ""]

This will set Docker to use Google’s public DNS servers.


Docker is a powerful tool, but like all tools, it can sometimes be a bit tricky to handle. I hope that this guide has helped you to solve some of the most common Docker issues. Keep in mind that the best way to get good at troubleshooting is practice. So don’t be discouraged if you run into problems – every problem is an opportunity to learn and grow.

As you continue your Docker journey, you’ll likely encounter other issues not covered in this guide. However, the principles you’ve learned here will still apply. Here are some final tips:

  1. Read the error messages: Docker does a pretty good job of telling you what’s wrong. Always read the error messages closely. They often contain the information you need to solve the problem.
  2. Use the logs: Docker keeps detailed logs of what’s happening in your containers. These logs can be a goldmine of information when you’re trying to figure out what’s going wrong.
  3. Ask for help: The Docker community is large and active. If you’re stuck, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Websites like StackOverflow have many experienced Docker users who can help you solve your problem.
  4. Keep learning: Docker is a complex tool with many features. The more you learn about Docker, the easier it will be to troubleshoot problems. So keep learning and experimenting!

Remember, troubleshooting is a skill that takes time to develop. Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. With practice, you’ll become a proficient Docker troubleshooter in no time.

Happy Dockering!