(docker run -d) Why Does a Docker Container Stop Automatically?


Docker has become an indispensable tool in modern software development, offering the ability to package applications and their dependencies into lightweight containers.

However, if you're like me, you may have encountered a puzzling situation where your Docker container unexpectedly stops after running the docker run -d command.

In this blog post, I'll guide you through the reasons behind this behavior and provide practical examples and solutions to help you overcome this challenge. Whether you're a Docker novice or an experienced user, together we'll unravel the mystery and ensure your containers stay up and running seamlessly.

Table of Content

  1. Understanding the docker -d Flag
  2. Reasons for Automatic Container Stoppage
  3. Using the sleep infinity Flag
  4. Resolving the Issue
  5. Conclusion

Understanding the docker -d Flag

Let's start by understanding the purpose of the -d flag when running the docker run command. By using docker run -d, we're instructing Docker to run the container in detached mode.

This means the container runs in the background, allowing us to continue working in the terminal without being tied to its output. It's a convenient way to keep our containers running while we focus on other tasks.

Reasons for Automatic Container Stoppage

Now, let's dive into the reasons why your Docker container might stop automatically after executing docker run -d. I've encountered a few scenarios myself, and I'll share them with you along with concrete examples:

  1. Immediate Completion of the Container's Process:

    Imagine you're running a container with a command that finishes executing almost instantly. For instance, consider this command:

    1docker run -d my-image sh -c 'echo "Hello, Docker!"'

    In this case, the container starts, prints the message "Hello, Docker!" to the console, and then exits. Because the command completes quickly, the container stops running.

    To overcome this, we need to ensure that the container's command or entry point refers to a long-running process or service that keeps the container alive.

  2. Crashing or Exiting of the Containerized Application:

    Another situation you may encounter is when the application running inside the container crashes or completes its execution, causing the container to stop. Let me illustrate this with an example:

    1docker run -d my-app-image

    If the application within the container crashes or finishes running, the container will also stop. To address this, we need to investigate the application's logs and error messages to identify the underlying issue.

    This may involve debugging the application within the container to resolve any errors or misconfigurations.

  3. Lack of Persistent Processes:

    Docker containers require at least one foreground process running persistently to keep the container alive.

    If there are no active foreground processes, the container will automatically stop. Let's explore an example to understand this better:

    1docker run -d my-service-image 

    If the containerized application fails to start the necessary service or daemon that maintains the container's active state, the container will stop running. To resolve this, we need to ensure that the container's entry point or command initiates the required service or supervisory process.

Using the sleep infinity Flag

Now, let me introduce you to a powerful solution that can keep your Docker container running even when you don't require an active application or service.

It involves using the sleep infinity command in your container's command or entry point. Let's see it in action:

1# Running docker with sleep infinity command
3docker run -d my-app-image sleep infinity

By using sleep infinity, we instruct the container to pause indefinitely, ensuring it remains active and allowing other processes or services within the container to execute.

Resolving the Issue

To ensure your Docker container remains running after executing docker run -d, let's explore some practical solutions:

  1. Verify the Docker Image and Command:

    Double-check the Docker image you're using and the command specified within the container's entry point or command. Ensure they are accurate and properly configured. If you're using a custom image, verify that the Dockerfile and build process are correctly set up.

  2. Monitor Logs and Error Messages:

    Pay close attention to the logs and error messages generated by the containerized application. These logs are invaluable in troubleshooting unexpected container stoppages. Utilize tools like docker logs to retrieve container logs and investigate any errors or misconfigurations.

  3. Ensure Persistent Processes:

    Make sure your container has at least one persistent foreground process running continuously to keep the container active. This process could be the primary application or a supervisory process like supervisord that manages other services.

  4. Utilize the sleep infinity Command:

    When your container doesn't require an active application or service but needs to stay running, use the sleep infinity command in the container's command or entry point. This ensures the container remains alive and allows other processes to execute within it.


The automatic stoppage of a Docker container after running docker run -d can be a perplexing issue. By understanding the reasons behind it and following the solutions I've shared, you can overcome this challenge and ensure your containers remain up and running seamlessly.

Docker empowers us to build and deploy applications with ease, and with the right approach, we can fully harness its potential. Remember to verify your image and command, monitor logs and error messages, ensure persistent processes, and utilize the sleep infinity command when necessary.

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