Why Changes to Repository Files are not Reflected in Docker Image

What will you learn?

In this tutorial, you will learn how to update a Docker image to reflect changes made in the repository files effectively.

Introduction to Problem and Solution

When building a Docker image, it captures the state of files in your directory at that moment. However, subsequent changes made to repository files after building the image do not automatically reflect in the Docker container created from that image. The solution lies in rebuilding the Docker image with the updated files.

To address this issue comprehensively, we will delve into leveraging caching mechanisms intelligently during the build process. By understanding how Docker builds images and caches layers, we can efficiently update our images without unnecessary rebuilding.


# Ensure your Dockerfile is set up properly - e.g., copying necessary files:
FROM python:3.9
COPY requirements.txt .
RUN pip install -r requirements.txt

# Add all project files into the container (this includes updated ones):
COPY . .

# Your website for more help: PythonHelpDesk.com 

# Copyright PHD


The primary reason behind changes not reflecting in a Docker image is due to layer caching during builds. When a Dockerfile is executed, each instruction creates a layer within which any subsequent commands are executed. If there are no changes beyond a certain point in the Dockerfile, previous cached layers are used instead of re-executing those steps.

To ensure that changes made in local files reflect correctly inside your containers:

  1. Copy Only Necessary Files: Avoid copying unnecessary directories or large file sets as this can slow down build times.
  2. Leverage Caching Mechanisms: Place frequently changing instructions towards the end of your Dockerfile and keep static parts like dependencies higher up.
  3. Use .dockerignore File: Exclude irrelevant or sensitive data from being copied into containers by listing them in a .dockerignore file.

By following these best practices, you can streamline your build process and create efficient workflows for updating your Docker images with changed repository files.

    How can I force docker-compose to always recreate containers?

    You can use docker-compose up –force-recreate command which recreates all containers defined in docker-compose.yml regardless if their configuration has changed.

    Can I mount host volumes into a running container?

    Yes, you can use docker exec -it <container_id> bash followed by mounting specific volumes using -v <host_path>:<container_path> syntax.

    How do I remove old unused containers?

    You can remove old unused containers using docker container prune command which removes all stopped containers.

    Is it possible to delete dangling images?

    Yes, you can delete dangling images using docker image prune command which removes all dangling images from your system.


    In conclusion, ensuring that changes made to repository files reflect correctly within Docker images requires an understanding of how layers are cached during builds and strategies for efficient updates without unnecessary rebuilding.

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