GuidesError Fixes5 Ways To Fix Docker Desktop Starting Forever In Windows 11

5 Ways To Fix Docker Desktop Starting Forever In Windows 11

Clean boot your PC, try to enable virtualization, re-enable WSL or reinstall Docker to fix the error.

Building, sharing, and running advanced apps are all made possible by a tool, Docker. All the software are packed into a unit called a container, which has the runtime, code, libraries, and tools required for the software to run. However, you might face the “Docker Desktop Starting Forever” error due to system requirements issues, problems with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and corrupt app installation files.

What Is Docker Desktop Error
What Is Docker Desktop Error (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The screen will be stuck on the following message:

Error Message: Docker Engine starting… 

Key Takeaways

  • Docker usually takes about 10 to 15 seconds to boot up. There could be something wrong if it takes more than 2 minutes. 
  • The reasons behind the Docker Engine starting error are corrupted installation files, issues with WSL, or the system configuration isn’t correct.
  • You can fix the issue by performing a clean boot, enabling virtualization, switching to Windows containers, and re-enabling the WSL.
Tip: Work around the basic troubleshooting first, such as power cycling the PC and internet router, updating the app and Windows 11, and verifying your system’s configuration to use the Docker Desktop tool.

Clean Boot Your Computer

While working on the issue, I found that a Clean Boot effectively eliminates the docker desktop stuck in the starting loop issue. In the Clean Boot mode, the system starts up with a minimal number of drivers and applications required for its functioning. Therefore, any conflicting apps causing the issue will be halted.

Enable Virtualization

Enabling Virtualization allows you to use a broader range of apps on your Windows PC. To enable Virtualization, access your BIOS by pressing the manufacturer-specified Access key, which can be found on their website. Learn the method to check what motherboard you have and how to get into its BIOS with our specified guides. Once in the BIOS, the method to enable Virtualization depends on whether your CPU is from Intel or AMD.

Tip: The layout of BIOS Settings may depend on several factors such as the motherboard, OEM, and your computer model.

Enabling Virtualization In BIOS for Intel CPUs

Here’s how to enable Virtualization for Intel CPUs:

  1. Select Advanced Mode or hit F7 > Advanced > CPU Configuration.
  2. Opt for Intel Virtualization Technology > Choose Enabled > Exit > Save changes & reset.
    opt for the Intel Virtualization Technology
    Enable Virtualization (Image By Tech4Gamers)
Note: The terminology may vary depending on your desktop/laptop model, but in all cases, save before exiting.

Enabling Virtualization In BIOS for AMD CPU

Here’s how to enable Virtualization for AMD CPUs:

  1. Select Advanced Mode or hit F7.
  2. Enter Advanced tab > CPU Configuration.
  3. Select SVM Mode > Select Enabled > Exit > OK.
     Jump into SVM Mode to enable
    Enable Virtualization in AMD (Image By Tech4Gamers)

During our research on the topic, we found that users on Reddit were also able to fix the Docker error using this method. 

Reinstall Docker

Uninstalling and then reinstalling the Docker again is another method that can eliminate the Docker desktop trouble. This is because sometimes, the files can get corrupted, and the only way to fix them is by reinstalling the software.

Here’s how to operate:

  1. Access the Run > Enter appwiz.cpl > OK.
  2. Look for Docker > Right-click on it > Uninstall
  3. Head to Docker’s website > Download it > Run the installer.

Switch To Windows Containers

During installation, the Docker engine sometimes ignores the OS and goes automatically for Linux containers. In this case, the glitch arises, which you can quickly fix by switching the containers from Linus to Windows. 

Here’s how to switch:

  1. Go to the bottom-right of the Taskbar > Expand the System icon > Right-click on the Docker app.
  2. Select to switch to Windows Containers > Switch > Relaunch it.

Re-enable The Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL) Feature

Windows Subsystem for Linux or WSL enables your system to run the Linux environment on the Windows systems. By re-enabling this feature, I fixed the persisting Docker startup issue.

Here’s how to re-enable:

  1. Access Run > Type Optional Features > Enter.
  2. Look for Windows Subsystem for Linux > Uncheck the box against it > OK.
    Uncheck the windows subsystem for linux
    Windows Features – ImageCredit(Tech4Gamers)
  3. Close the dialog box > Repeat the above steps > Mark the box against Windows Subsystem for Linux.

During my research, it came to my attention that multiple users were facing this error, as can be seen on Reddit and the official Docker forum. The issue can seem frustrating, but the methods I mentioned above shouldn’t take long to fix it. I was personally able to fix the Docker stuck on starting issue in a few minutes, so you can expect to spend the same amount of time. But if you’re unable to fix the issue, it would be better to get in touch with the support team at Docker

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Normally Take Docker To Launch?

The Docker app often launches in less than ten seconds. Still, several variables, including the speed of your system and the active applications in the background, can be a reason for an extended time.

What Might Be The Causes Behind The Extended Time?

Some main culprits are the Windows Subsystem having issues, system requirements not being compatible, and app installation files getting corrupted.

What To Do If Docker Is Taking Forever To Start?

First, clean boot your PC and try to enable virtualization, re-enable WSL, reinstall Docker, or switch to a Windows container.

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