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How to Fix the “docker postgres keeps restarting” Error

Anastasios Antoniadis

Troubleshoot a Docker PostgreSQL container that keeps restarting with our expert guide. Learn to fix configuration errors, resource constraints, volume issues, and manage dependencies for stable database operation.

Docker (1)

Docker provides a convenient and efficient way to deploy applications and their dependencies in isolated environments called containers. PostgreSQL, a powerful open-source object-relational database system, is commonly run inside Docker containers for development, testing, and production environments. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter situations where your PostgreSQL Docker container keeps restarting. This behavior can be frustrating and hinder development progress. This article explores common reasons behind this issue and offers solutions to stabilize your PostgreSQL container.

Understanding the Issue

When a Docker container, specifically one running PostgreSQL, keeps restarting, it’s usually a symptom of underlying problems such as configuration errors, resource constraints, or issues with persistent data storage. Docker attempts to restart the container due to its restart policy or because the container exits unexpectedly. Identifying the root cause is crucial for a permanent fix.

Common Causes and Solutions

1. Incorrect Configuration

Problem: Misconfigurations in the PostgreSQL Docker container can lead to repeated restarts. Common mistakes include incorrect environment variables, such as those specifying the database name, user, or password.

Solution: Review your container’s logs to identify any configuration errors. Use docker logs <container_name> to get a detailed output of your PostgreSQL container’s startup process. Ensure that all required environment variables are correctly set according to the PostgreSQL Docker image documentation.

2. Insufficient Resources

Problem: PostgreSQL requires a certain amount of memory and CPU resources to run efficiently. If the Docker host or the container itself is allocated insufficient resources, PostgreSQL may fail to start properly, causing the container to restart repeatedly.

Solution: Increase the memory and CPU allocation for your Docker container. You can specify resource limits in your Docker run command or Docker Compose file. Monitor the container’s resource usage to ensure it has enough resources to operate smoothly.

3. Persistent Volume Issues

Problem: Docker containers are ephemeral, but databases need to persist data beyond the lifecycle of a single container instance. If there’s an issue with the mounted volume for PostgreSQL data (e.g., permissions issues, corrupt data, or incorrect mounting), it can prevent PostgreSQL from starting up correctly.

Solution: Ensure that the Docker volume used for persisting PostgreSQL data is correctly configured and mounted. Check the permissions of the volume to ensure that the PostgreSQL process has read and write access. If data corruption is suspected, consider restoring from a backup.

4. Restart Policy Misconfiguration

Problem: Docker’s restart policy for a container might be set in a way that it continuously tries to restart a container that is failing due to an unrecoverable error.

Solution: Reconsider the restart policy for your PostgreSQL container. While development environments might benefit from an always or unless-stopped policy, it might mask underlying issues. Use the docker update --restart=no <container_name> command to change the restart policy and troubleshoot the container without it constantly restarting.

5. Dependency on Other Services

Problem: If your PostgreSQL container is part of a multi-container application managed by Docker Compose, it might restart due to dependencies on other services that are not yet available or are misconfigured.

Solution: Use Docker Compose’s depends_on directive to manage container startup order and ensure that all dependent services are available before PostgreSQL starts. Consider implementing health checks for a more robust solution to manage dependencies between containers.


A Docker container hosting PostgreSQL that keeps restarting is a signal to review configurations, resources, and dependencies. By methodically diagnosing the issue—starting with container logs, reviewing resource allocations, checking persistent volumes, adjusting restart policies, and managing inter-container dependencies—you can identify and rectify the root cause, ensuring stable and reliable operation of your PostgreSQL database in Docker environments. Remember, thorough documentation and community forums are invaluable resources when troubleshooting Docker-related issues.

Anastasios Antoniadis
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