How to Automate Docker System Maintenance With "docker system prune"?

Docker is a great tool for containerization, however, it can also lead to a buildup of unnecessary data on your host system over time. This can include things like old images, stopped containers, and networks that are no longer in use. To keep your Docker system running smoothly, it's important to periodically clean up this data. One of the best ways to do this is by using the docker system prune command.

The docker system prune command removes all unused data from a Docker system, including things like stopped containers, networks that aren't being used, and images that haven't been tagged. By running the docker system prune command on a regular basis, you can keep your Docker system clean and running efficiently.

One of the easiest ways to automate this process is by using a scheduling tool like cron. In Linux and macOS systems, cron is built-in. You can use it to schedule commands that run automatically at specified intervals.

For example, you can use a cron to automate the "docker system prune" command in the following way:

  1. Open a terminal and run the crontab -e command to open the crontab (or cron table) file;
  2. Add a new line to the table that runs docker system prune at the interval you want;
  3. Save the table and exit.

For example, to run docker system prune every day at midnight, you would add the following line to the crontab:

0 0 * * * /usr/bin/docker system prune -af

The path of docker might vary based on the system you are using.

Please note that the -f flag is used here to force the removal of all images without prompting for confirmation, as cron job runs in background and won't have any user interaction. The -a flag, on the other hand, is used for removing all unused images.

Once you've set up a schedule for cron to run docker system prune, your Docker system will be automatically cleaned up on a regular basis. This can help keep your system running efficiently and free up valuable disk space.

It's always a good practice to back up your system before running any command that may remove important data. So, you can add a backup step before running docker system prune in the cron job.

In addition to using the docker system prune command, there are other best practices that you can follow to keep your Docker system running smoothly. This includes things like regularly updating your images, monitoring your container performance, and keeping your host system updated.

This post was published by Daniyal Hamid. Daniyal currently works as the Head of Engineering in Germany and has 20+ years of experience in software engineering, design and marketing. Please show your love and support by sharing this post.