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Docker Container Logs: Commands & Best Practices

Docker keeps logs that provide information about what containers are doing, and these logs can be helpful when attempting to fix issues. If you’re using docker on your system then it’s very important to understand what docker container logs are. With the provided guide, we are going to tell you docker container logs commands and best practices. This blog is an important part of our docker consulting services to guide you with the important part of docker.

Docker is a powerful way to package and run applications, and monitoring their logs is essential for troubleshooting and understanding how your applications are performing. In this guide, we’ll explore Docker container logs, the commands to manage them, and best practices to make the most of your logging experience.

Docker container Logging is really important when it comes to containerizing applications. It assists developers in maintaining a record of patterns, troubleshooting issues, and fixing bugs. Docker provides convenient logging solutions and extra features to help you effectively manage your logs.

What Are Docker Container Logs?

Docker container logs are like a digital diary of what’s happening inside your container. They collect information, events, errors, and more. It’s the way you can peek inside your container without actually going in.

Docker container logs are your window into what’s happening inside your containers. They help you troubleshoot issues, monitor performance, and understand your applications better. By using the simple commands and best practices, you can make the most of your container logs, ensuring a smooth Docker experience.

View docker Logs

1. View the Logs of a Running Container

Use the following command to view docker container logs which are running:

 docker logs <container_id or container_name>

Replace <container_id> or <container_name> with the actual container’s ID or name. This command displays the container’s logs in real-time.

2. View the Logs with Timestamps

To include timestamps in the log output, you can use the –timestamps flag:

docker logs --timestamps <container_id or container_name>

This command adds timestamps to each log entry, making it easier to track when events occurred.

Managing Container Logs

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3. View the Last X Lines of Logs

If you only want to see the last few lines of the log, you can use the -n or –tail option:

docker logs --tail  <number_of_lines>  <container_id or container_name>

This is useful when you want to focus on recent log entries.

4. Follow Container Logs in Real-Time

To continuously stream the container’s log output as new log entries are generated, use the -f or –follow flag:

docker logs -f  < container_id or container_name>

This is valuable for monitoring the live behavior of your application.

Docker Command to Check Docker Container Logs

When you use the “docker logs” command, Docker will retrieve the logs for a container that is currently running. This feature is only compatible with containers that use either the JSON-file or journald logging driver.

To retrieve container logs, you can use the following command syntax:

sudo docker container logs [option] container_id

Replace “container_id” with the specific ID number of the container you would like to inspect. To find the container ID, you can use the “docker ps” command. This command will list all the running containers.

In this example, Docker is currently running a MySQL container with the ID ebebb5c7ae0d. You can view the logs by running the following command on your terminal:

sudo docker logs ebebb5c7ae0d

As shown in the image below, Docker responds by putting the events logs for that container in the output.

Docker Container Logs: Commands & Best Practices

Docker Container Logs Command Options

With Docker, you can customize the output by adding options to the command based on your specific requirements.

You have several command options to choose from.

Command OptionDescription
–detailsShow extra information that was provided to logs.
–follow, -fCheck the output of the log.
–sinceDisplay logs since a relative (e.g., 20m) or stated timestamp (e.g., 2022-05-06T14:48:33Z).
–tail, -nDetermine how many lines should be shown at the log’s end.
–timestamps, -tProvide a timestamp.
–untilDisplay logs from before a certain time.

Docker Container Logging Best Practices

Docker has various logging mechanisms available to help you keep track of and manage logs. Some of these mechanisms are already included and automatically configured.

When it comes to keeping container logs accurate and safe, the following suggestions and best practices:


For best practices, make sure your application writes its logs to standard output (STDOUT) and standard error (STDERR). Docker captures these streams by default, making it easier to access your logs.

2. Log Aggregation

Consider using log aggregation tools like ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana), Splunk, or Fluentd to centralize and manage your container logs. These tools help you search, analyze, and visualize log data efficiently.

3. Log Rotation

Implement log rotation to avoid filling up your storage with large log files. Tools like logrotate can help manage log files and keep them at a manageable size.

4. Custom Log Drivers

Docker allows you to use custom log drivers to redirect container logs to various logging systems or services. Explore these options for more advanced logging setups.

5. Environment Variables

Use environment variables to configure logging behavior. This allows you to control log verbosity and destinations dynamically.

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With this comprehensive guide, we provided you detailed information about Docker container logs, its commands and best practices. Docker is a really flexible platform that provides a lot of features for managing its environment. One of the most important things every system administrator should be able to do is manage a system’s logs. Managing logs in Docker becomes easier once you are familiar with the available commands and the various flags that can be used based on your specific needs.

Docker container logs are a valuable resource for monitoring, troubleshooting, and understanding your containerized applications. By using the provided commands and following best practices, you can effectively manage and make the most of your container logs, ensuring a smooth and productive containerized environment.