Top 12 Docker Production Best Practices: Enhancing Security and Efficiency


These best practices are designed to improve security, optimize image size, utilize Docker's robust features, and create cleaner, more maintainable Dockerfiles.

1️⃣ Best Practice: Use Official and Verified Images

Start your Docker projects with an official and verified base image. For example, when developing a Node.js application, instead of building from a bare operating system image and manually installing Node.js and other dependencies, opt for the official Node.js image from Docker Hub.


  • Cleaner Dockerfile with fewer lines and complexity.

  • Reduced risk of security vulnerabilities due to using a well-maintained and frequently updated base image.

Further Reading:

2️⃣ Best Practice: Pin Specific Image Versions

Avoid using the latest tag for base images in your Dockerfiles. Specifying a specific version of the base image ensures consistency across builds and avoids unexpected issues due to changes in the latest versions.


  • Predictability in builds by avoiding the surprises of updated base images.

  • Enhanced security and compatibility by controlling version updates manually.

3️⃣ Best Practice: Opt for Small-Sized Official Images

Choose smaller, official Docker images that fit your application's needs. For instance, Node.js images are available in variants like Alpine which are significantly smaller than their full OS counterparts.


  • Reduced image size leading to quicker pull and push times.

  • Decreased storage requirements and faster deployment.

  • Minimized attack surface due to fewer bundled software and tools.

Further Reading:

4️⃣ Best Practice: Optimize Docker Image Layer Caching

Structure your Dockerfile to maximize the use of Docker’s layer caching by ordering commands from the least frequently changed to the most frequently changed. This practice enhances the speed of image builds and updates.


  • Faster builds and updates due to efficient use of cache.

  • Reduced bandwidth usage during image building and pulling.

5️⃣ Best Practice: Utilize .dockerignore

The .dockerignore file plays a crucial role in keeping unwanted files out of your Docker images, ensuring that only necessary files are included.


  • Smaller Docker images by excluding unnecessary files like temporary build artifacts and local configuration files.

  • Improved build performance and security by reducing the scope of what needs to be sent to the Docker daemon.

6️⃣ Best Practice: Implement Multi-Stage Builds

Multi-stage builds in Dockerfiles allow you to separate the build environment from the runtime environment. This means you can use heavy build-time dependencies without including them in the final image.


  • Cleaner final images by separating build tools and runtime necessities.

  • Reduced image sizes and improved security by minimizing runtime dependencies.

7️⃣ Best Practice: Run Containers as Non-Root Users

Avoid running containers as the root user. Instead, specify a non-privileged user for running the application within the container to enhance security.


  • Enhanced security by limiting the potential damage if an application is compromised.

  • Reduced risk of unintended changes or security breaches within the container or the host system.

8️⃣ Best Practice: Regularly Scan Images for Vulnerabilities

Use tools like docker scan to check for vulnerabilities in your Docker images. Regular scanning helps identify and mitigate security risks before they affect your production environment.


  • Proactive vulnerability management.

  • Insights into necessary updates and patches for your images.

Example Command and Output:

docker scan my-image


✗ High severity vulnerability found in library@version
Description: [Vulnerability details]
Solution: Upgrade to library@new-version

Further Reading:

9️⃣ Best Practice: Keep Docker and Its Components Updated

Regular updates to Docker and its associated components ensure you benefit from the latest security patches, bug fixes, and features. Staying updated minimizes vulnerabilities which might be exploited in older versions.


  • Enhanced security by patching known vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

  • Access to the latest features and improvements that can optimize your operations.

Further Reading:

🔟 Best Practice: Enforce Logging and Monitoring

Implement robust logging and monitoring for your Docker containers to track their performance and troubleshoot issues efficiently. Tools like Prometheus for monitoring and ELK Stack or Fluentd for logging can provide deep insights.


  • Better visibility into container performance and health.

  • Quick identification and resolution of issues or anomalies.

Further Reading:

1️⃣1️⃣ Best Practice: Secure Network Traffic

Implement network policies to control traffic flow at the IP address or port level between pods/containers. This practice is crucial to prevent unauthorized access and ensure data privacy.


  • Enhanced network security within Docker environments.

  • Controlled access and communication between services.

Example Command:

docker network create --driver bridge --subnet my-network

1️⃣2️⃣ Best Practice: Manage Resource Limits

Set and manage CPU and memory limits for your containers to prevent any single container from exhausting the host machine's resources. This is crucial for maintaining system stability and ensuring fair resource distribution among services.


  • Prevent resource starvation and ensure high availability and reliability.

  • Better resource allocation and management, leading to improved application performance.

Example Docker Command:

docker run -d --name myservice --memory 512m --cpus 1 myimage:latest

These additional best practices build on the earlier eight to offer a comprehensive strategy for using Docker effectively in production environments. By implementing these practices, organizations can secure, optimize, and streamline their container operations.


Adopting these eight best practices will significantly enhance the way you use Docker in your projects, leading to more secure, efficient, and manageable containerized applications.