Docker: Move to new data-root

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Dockerized services are great, especially with named docker volumes. All the configuration, data and other files are reliably stored away and can easily be accessed. But as soon as you run services like databases or even common monitoring concepts, the underlying storage layer becomes important. Factors like access latency, throughput, backup and space need to be taken into account.

We ran into the limitations of our storage after switching from prometheus to mimir. The requirement was, that we can access long-term monitoring data of our infrastructure efficiently. The storage space on our virtual servers however was quite small. Hence, we added external storage managed by our provider. Now we just needed to move all docker-related data to its new location. Unfortunately, it is more then just a mv command.

Let’s begin. First, we need to stop all docker services.

sudo systemctl stop docker
sudo systemctl stop docker.socket
sudo systemctl stop containerd

Now copy the current state of your docker data root to its new location. I’m using rsync here, but cp should work similar. Depending on the size of your containers and images, it’s time to grab a coffee or tea.

rsync -aqxP /var/lib/docker/ /new/path/docker

I’d to like to keep a backup if things go wrong.

mv /var/lib/docker /var/lib/docker.old

It’s time to change the configuration of docker to point to the new location. Edit /etc/docker/daemon.json as follows:

    "data-root": "/new/path/docker"

So far, so good. That’s what we thought. However, the config.v2.json file for each container stores the absolute path to the original storage location. As pointed out in this thread, there is very little information on this important detail. We reversed the migration, tried again, double checked everything until we found the problem.

sed -i 's%/var/lib/docker%/new/dir%g' /new/path/docker/containers/*/config.v2.json

Don’t change the container configuration while docker is running, otherwise it won’t have any affect. After that you’re ready to boot up docker with it’s new storage location.

sudo systemctl start docker

You can verify the storage paths with this command:

docker info -f '{{ .DockerRootDir }}'