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How to connect to Docker container to manage the applications

How to connect to Docker container to manage the applications

Docker containers gained popularity as they enabled fast application deployment. This made them ideal solution for hosting applications and services. But to access these applications or services externally, we need to expose the docker ports.

While port forwarding is useful for end-users to access the container applications, developers and system administrators who manage the Docker infrastructure should have ways to connect to Docker containers from the backend.

Developers who code the applications in Docker containers would need to edit or modify these application files. Docker hosting providers who host services would have to adjust the container resources or perform administrative tasks in them.

All these activities require access to the containers. While SSH access is not possible to the Docker containers directly, the containers can be managed from the host machine with some simple steps.

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Today, we’ll discuss the 3 ways to connect to Docker containers from backend.

1. Connect to Docker container using ‘docker exec’

The main method to access Docker container from the host machine, is using the ‘docker exec’ command. For that, first login to the Docker host machine via SSH.

Then look up the Docker containers in the host machine and locate the one you want to access. You can do this with the ‘docker ps’ command:


connect to docker container - lookup the id

Lookup the Docker container


Once the docker container ID is identified, you can connect to it using ‘docker exec -it [container-id] /bin/bash’ command:


Connect to Docker container with docker exec

Connect to Docker container with docker exec


You will then be presented with a bash console inside the docker container, where you can perform the tasks specific to that container.

connect to docker container and execute commands

Execute commands in Docker container


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