Docker shocker: Cash-strapped container crew threatens to delete 4.5 petabytes of unloved images

If you haven’t touched yours for six-plus months, you have to cough up to prevent erasure come November

Docker has warned that it plans to delete 4.5 petabytes of container images that haven’t been used for six or more months.

The container pioneer can do so because it’s tweaked its Terms of Service with an expanded clause 2.5 that adds the right to delete data.

The one-time DevOps darling has not changed that out of malice. Instead, as explained in a new Container Retention FAQ, its Docker Hub is home to 15PB of user data. But plenty of that is unloved container images that haven’t been touched for ages.

“After detailed analysis of the container images stored on Docker Hub, we found that 4.5PB of the data have not been pushed or pulled within 6 months or longer,” the FAQ reveals.

Hence the new policy that will declare an image “inactive” if it hasn’t been pushed or pulled for six months. Images can be created under free plans, but only retained for perpetuity for those who pony up for paid plans.

“We are making this move to optimize operations and make the Docker Hub service even stronger for developers and development teams around the world who are using the service to build and ship applications,” the FAQ says.

Free tier users with dormant images in Docker Hub can either get back to work on them, or cough up for paid plans that start at a colossal US$5/month.

Docker has cooked up a dashboard to highlight the status of users’ images, to make sure they can see which ones are inactive.

Just Docker room talk: Container upstart's enterprise wing sold to Mirantis, CEO out, Swarm support faces ax


If we assume that Docker is an AWS user and pays published rates for 15PB in the S3 Intelligent-Tiering service, its bill is over $320,000 a month. If this clean-out results in 10 percent reduction in storage and a bump in paid accounts, it will help the struggling company, which in late 2019 told staff it needed more funds and raised some by selling its enterprise business to Mirantis.

That sale made sense because Kubernetes has all-but-won the market Docker pitched for with its Swarm orchestration tool, if you can remember it. ®

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