Where Does Docker Store Images

Operating Systems

As a Docker enthusiast, I often find myself diving deep into the inner workings of this powerful containerization technology. One of the most intriguing aspects for me is understanding where Docker stores its images. Let’s explore this topic together.

Understanding Docker Image Storage

When you pull or build Docker images, they are stored in a specific location on your system. By default, Docker stores images in a location that can vary depending on the operating system being used.


If you’re using Docker on a Linux system, the images are typically stored in /var/lib/docker. This directory contains subdirectories containing the layers and metadata for each image. The filesystem structure used by Docker is both efficient and complex, allowing for the layering and reusability that characterize Docker images.


For Windows users, the default location for storing Docker images is generally within the Hyper-V virtual machine that Docker runs on. This means that the images are not directly accessible from the host file system and are managed within the context of the virtualized Docker environment.


On macOS, Docker images are also stored within a virtualized environment, typically managed by the Docker for Mac application. Under the hood, Docker for Mac uses a lightweight Linux VM to host the Docker daemon and store images in a manner similar to that of a Linux system.

Customizing Image Storage

While Docker has default locations for storing images, it is possible to customize this storage location. This can be useful in scenarios where the default storage location may not have sufficient space, or when you simply prefer to store images in a different directory.

To customize the image storage location, you can modify the Docker daemon configuration file. By specifying the data-root option, you can set a different directory for storing Docker images.


Exploring the inner workings of Docker’s image storage can provide valuable insights into how containerized applications are managed and maintained. Understanding where Docker stores its images is not only interesting from a technical perspective but also plays a practical role in managing the resources and storage space of your system. Whether you’re working on a Linux, Windows, or macOS system, being aware of where Docker images are stored can help you troubleshoot issues and optimize your Docker workflow.