How to Copy/Move Docker Images and Export/Import Docker Containers between hosts

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In this post, we’ll show you how to copy/move a docker image between hosts and import/export a docker container between hosts. You may need to do this move images/containers between dev team to save time downloading Docker image from your private repository or save time consumed in adding your configuration to a running container.

This tutorial divided into two parts. Part 1: will help you to export and import Docker images and move them between hosts. Part 2: will help you to export and import Docker containers and move them between hosts. Let’s start:

Part 1: Copy/Move Docker Images between Hosts

Step 1: List Docker Images

Fist list docker images on your system using below command.

# docker images

REPOSITORY     TAG        IMAGE ID            CREATED          VIRTUAL SIZE
centos         latest     2933d50b9f77        11 days ago      196.6 MB
ubuntu         latest     36248ae4a9ac        11 days ago      188 MB

Step 2: Save or Archive Image

Now use the following command to save image repository named ubuntu (image id: 36248ae4a9ac) and make a zipped archive named ubuntu-latest.tar.gz. Remember that save is used for making backup of docker images (not containers).

# docker save ubuntu | gzip > ubuntu-latest.tar.gz

Step 3: Import Image

After saving docker image in archive format on your system move it to remote system using scp or ftp. After that use below command on remote system to import Docker image with name ubuntu and tag name latest.

# zcat ubuntu-latest.gz | docker import - ubuntu:latest

The above command will create a docker image with name ubuntu and tag name latest on your system. You can now launch containers using this image like below.

# docker run -i -t ubuntu /bin/bash

Part 2: Export and Import Docker Containers between Hosts

Step 1: List Containers

Fist list all containers on your system using below command. Using ps -a will list all containers (running and stopped) from your system.

# docker ps -a

CONTAINER ID   IMAGE    COMMAND      CREATED       STATUS      PORTS  NAMES
f2582758af13   ubuntu   "/bin/bash"  2 hours ago   Up 2 hours         ubuntu-web
2b199b9976c4   centos   "/bin/bash"  3 days ago    Up 3 hours         centos-mysql

Step 2: Export Container

Finally use the following command to export container named ubuntu-web (container id: f2582758af13) and make a zipped archive named ubuntu-web.tar.gz. Remember that export is used for making backup of docker containers (not images) in image format.

# docker export ubuntu-web | gzip > ubuntu-web.tar.gz

Step 3: Import Container

After exporting docker container on your system move it to remote server using scp or ftp. After that use below command on remote server to import Docker container on remote server with name ubuntu-web.

# zcat ubuntu-web.gz | docker import - ubuntu-web

The above command will create a docker image on your system. You can now launch a container from this image using below command.

# docker run -i -t ubuntu-web /bin/bash

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