# What is the purpose of VOLUME in Dockerfile?

## Introduction

Docker is a popular containerization platform that allows users to package and deploy applications in a standardized and isolated environment. Docker uses a file called a Dockerfile to specify the instructions for building and running a Docker container.

One important element of a Dockerfile is the VOLUME instruction, which specifies a mount point for a volume in the container. In this article, we will explore the purpose and usage of volumes in a Dockerfile.

## Definition of volume in Dockerfile

In the context of Docker, a volume is a persistent storage location that exists outside of the container. Volumes are useful for storing data that needs to persist even if the container is stopped or removed.

In a Dockerfile, the VOLUME instruction is used to specify a mount point for a volume within the container. The volume will be created when the container is built, and it can be accessed and modified by processes running inside the container.

## Purpose of volume in Dockerfile

There are several reasons why you might want to use a volume in a Dockerfile −

• Persisting data: If you have data that needs to persist even if the container is stopped or removed, you can store it in a volume. This is useful for things like database files or application logs.

• Sharing data between containers: If you have multiple containers that need to share data, you can use a volume to allow them to access the same data. This can be useful for things like storing shared configuration files or data used by multiple containers.

• Easing data management: By separating data from the container itself, volumes can make it easier to manage the data. For example, you can use a volume to store data that is generated by the container, and then mount the volume on a host system to easily access the data.

## How to use volumes in a Dockerfile

To use a volume in a Dockerfile, you can use the VOLUME instruction followed by the mount point for the volume.

### Example

VOLUME /var/log
VOLUME /my/data


This will create two volumes in the container, one mounted at /var/log and one at /my/data. You can then access and modify these volumes from inside the container using standard Linux file operations.

You can also specify a volume in the docker run command when starting a container.

### Example

docker run -v /host/log:/var/log myimage


This will mount the host directory /host/log on the container's /var/log volume.

## Implementation

Here is an example of a Dockerfile that uses the VOLUME instruction to create a volume in the container −

FROM ubuntu:latest
# Create a volume for storing application logs
VOLUME /var/log/app
# Install necessary packages
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y \
python3 \
python3-pip \
&& rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
# Copy application code into the container
COPY . /app
# Install application dependencies
RUN pip3 install -r /app/requirements.txt
# Run the application
CMD ["python3", "/app/app.py"]


This Dockerfile will create a volume at /var/log/app in the container when it is built. The application logs can then be stored in this volume and accessed from within the container.

Note that the VOLUME instruction should typically be placed at the beginning of the Dockerfile, before any instructions that modify the contents of the container. This ensures that the volume is created before any changes are made to it.

There are several advantages to using volumes in a Dockerfile −

• Persisting data − As mentioned earlier, volumes can be used to store data that needs to persist even if the container is stopped or removed. This can be useful for things like database files or application logs.

• Sharing data between containers − Volumes can be used to share data between multiple containers, making it easier to manage shared data and configuration files.

• Easing data management − By separating data from the container itself, volumes can make it easier to manage the data. For example, you can use a volume to store data that is generated by the container, and then mount the volume on a host system to easily access the data.

Disadvantages of using volumes in a Dockerfile −

• Potential security risks − If a volume is mounted on the host system, an attacker can gain access to the host system through the volume. It is important to carefully consider the security implications of using volumes and to take steps to secure them if necessary.

• Potential performance issues − Depending on the storage backend used for the volume, there may be performance implications when using volumes. For example, using a local volume on the host system may be faster than using a network-attached volume, but it may not be as portable or scalable.

• Complexity − Using volumes can add a layer of complexity to your Docker setup, as you need to manage both the containers and the volumes. This can be especially challenging when working with multiple containers and volumes.

## Conclusion

In conclusion, the VOLUME instruction in a Dockerfile is used to specify a mount point for a volume within the container. Volumes are persistent storage locations that exist outside of the container and are useful for storing data that needs to persist even if the container is stopped or removed, as well as for sharing data between containers and easing data management.

Using volumes in a Dockerfile can provide several benefits, such as data persistence, easier data management, and the ability to share data between containers. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential security and performance implications of using volumes and to take appropriate precautions to mitigate these risks.

Overall, the purpose of the VOLUME instruction in a Dockerfile is to provide a way to manage data in Docker containers and make it easier to deploy and run applications in a containerized environment.