Persisting data with Docker volumes

Docker containers are ephemeral. When a container is stopped, any data written to it is lost. Therefore, if you want to persist data when using Neo4j in Docker, you must mount storage to the container. Storages also allow you to get data in and out of the container.

Storage can be mounted to a container in two ways:

  • A folder on the host file system.

  • A Docker volume — a named storage location that is managed by Docker.

For instructions on how to mount storage to a Docker container, refer to the official Docker documentation Bind mounts and Volumes.

Neo4j provides several mount points for storage to simplify using Neo4j in Docker. The following sections describe the mount points and how to use them.

Neo4j mount points and permissions

The following table is a complete reference of the mount points recognized by the Neo4j Docker image, and file permissions.

All the listed mount points are optional. Neo4j can run in Docker without any volumes mounted at all. However, mounting storage to /data is considered essential for all but the most basic use cases.

Running containerized Neo4j without a /data mount results in unrecoverable data loss if anything happens to the container.

Table 1. Mount points for the Neo4j container
Mount point Permissions required Description


read, write

The data store for the Neo4j database. See Mounting storage to /data.


read, write

Output directory for Neo4j logs. See Mounting storage to /logs.



Pass configuration files to Neo4j on startup.
See Modify the default configuration.



Allows you to install plugins in containerized Neo4j.
See Plugins.



Provide licenses for Neo4j and any plugins by mounting the license folder.
See Installing Plugin Licenses.



Make csv and other importable files available to neo4j-admin import.



Provide SSL certificates to Neo4j for message encryption.
See SSL encryption in a Neo4j Docker container



Enterprise Edition Output directory for metrics files. See Metrics.

1. Write permissions are required when using the dump-config feature.

2. Write permissions are required when using the NEO4J_PLUGINS feature to download and store plugins.

Mounting storage to /data

Neo4j inside Docker stores database files in the /data folder. By mounting storage to /data, any data written to Neo4j will persist after the container is stopped.

Stopping the container and then restarting with the same folder mounted to /data starts a new containerized Neo4j instance with the same data.

If Neo4j could not properly close down, it may have left data in a bad state and is likely to fail on startup. This is the same as if Neo4j is run outside a container and not closed properly.

Example 1. Two ways to mount storage to the /data mount point
Mounting a folder to /data
docker run -it --rm \
   --volume $HOME/neo4j/data:/data \
Creating a named volume and mounting it to /data
docker volume create neo4jdata (1)
docker run -it --rm \
   --volume neo4jdata:/data \  (2)
1 Create a Docker volume named neo4jdata.
2 Mount the volume name neo4jdata to /data.

Mounting storage to /logs

Neo4j logging output is written to files in the /logs directory. This directory is mounted as a /logs volume. By mounting storage to /logs, the log files become available outside the container.

For more information about configuring Neo4j, see Configuration.
For more information about the Neo4j log files, see Logging.

File permissions

For security reasons, by default, Neo4j runs as the neo4j user inside the container. This user has user ID 7474. If neo4j needs read or write access to a mounted folder, but does not have it, the folder will be automatically re-owned to 7474.

This is a convenient feature, so you do not have to worry about the finer details of file permissions in Docker and can get started more easily. It does however mean that mounted folders change ownership, and you may find you can no longer read your files without root access.

Docker run with --user flag

The --user flag to docker run forces Docker to run as the provided user. In this situation, if that user does not have the required read or write access to any mounted folders, Neo4j will fail to start.