How to copy files from host to Docker container?



I am trying to build a backup and restore solution for the Docker containers that we work with.

I have Docker base image that I have created, ubuntu:base, and do not want have to rebuild it each time with a Docker file to add files to it.

I want to create a script that runs from the host machine and creates a new container using the ubuntu:base Docker image and then copies files into that container.

How can I copy files from the host to the container?

  • 12
    If you don't want to rebuild, why not "docker commit" ? That saves your image. – Berend de Boer Apr 28 '14 at 22:24
  • 36
    Just a remark on a notion nobody has addressed: in general, treat containers as "ephemeral". There ARE use cases to copy files into/from a running container (testing, prototyping). But if you find yourself in a position where you can't rebuild what you need using Dockerfiles and/or compose, then you may be in a bad place. You generally don't want to be backing up containers as if they were OS or even VM objects. Generally speaking :-) – Scott Prive Oct 16 '17 at 18:04 

42 Answers


The cp command can be used to copy files.

One specific file can be copied TO the container like:

docker cp foo.txt mycontainer:/foo.txt

One specific file can be copied FROM the container like:

docker cp mycontainer:/foo.txt foo.txt

For emphasis, mycontainer is a container ID, not an image ID.

Multiple files contained by the folder src can be copied into the target folder using:

docker cp src/. mycontainer:/target
docker cp mycontainer:/src/. target

Reference: Docker CLI docs for cp

In Docker versions prior to 1.8 it was only possible to copy files from a container to the host. Not from the host to a container.

  1. Get container name or short container id:

    $ docker ps
  2. Get full container id:

    $ docker inspect -f   '{{.Id}}'  SHORT_CONTAINER_ID-or-CONTAINER_NAME
  3. Copy file:

    $ sudo cp path-file-host /var/lib/docker/aufs/mnt/FULL_CONTAINER_ID/PATH-NEW-FILE


$ docker ps


d8e703d7e303   solidleon/ssh:latest      /usr/sbin/sshd -D                      cranky_pare

$ docker inspect -f   '{{.Id}}' cranky_pare


$ docker inspect -f   '{{.Id}}' d8e703d7e303


$ sudo cp file.txt /var/lib/docker/aufs/mnt/**d8e703d7e3039a6df6d01
posted @ 2021-03-29 08:39  功夫 熊猫  阅读(103)  评论(0编辑  收藏  举报