GuidesError Fixes4 Ways To Fix Docker Desktop Starting Forever In Windows 11

4 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.

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Building, sharing, and running advanced apps are all made possible by a tool, Docker. All the software is 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.

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 corrupt installation files, issues with WSL, or the system configuration not being correct.
  • You can fix the issue by performing a clean boot, enabling virtualization, switching to Windows containers, and re-enabling the WSL.

The screen will be stuck on the following message:

Error Message: Docker Engine starting… 
What Is Docker Desktop Error
What Is Docker Desktop Error (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Method Difficulty Rating

Enable Virtualization
Rated: 7/10

Reinstall Docker
Rated: 6/10

Switch Windows Containers
Rated: 5/10

Re-enable (WSL) Feature
Rated: 7/10

Tip: Work around the basic troubleshooting first, such as power cycling the PC/internet router, clean booting, updating the app and Windows 11, and verifying your system’s configuration to use the Docker Desktop tool.

Enable Virtualization

If the virtualization is disabled on your system, there is a high chance you won’t be able to access the application, as explained on their Docker official forums. 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

These steps can be followed to enable Virtualization for Intel CPUs:

  1. Access CPU Settings: Select Advanced Mode or hit F7 > Advanced > CPU Configuration.
    CPU Configuration In Intel BIOS
    CPU Configuration In Intel BIOS (Image By Tech4Gamers)
  2. Enable Intel Virtualization Technology: 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

The following instructions allow users to enable Virtualization for AMD CPUs:

  1. Launch Advanced Mode: Select Advanced Mode or hit F7.
  2. Advanced Settings: Enter Advanced tab > CPU Configuration.
  3. Enable SVM: 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. The following steps can easily accomplish this task:

  1. Open Run: Access the Run > Enter appwiz.cpl > OK.
    Execute Code In Run Box
    Execute Code In Run Box (Image By Tech4Gamers)
  2. Uninstall Docker: Look for Docker > Right-click on it > Uninstall.
    Uninstall Docker
    Uninstalling Docker Desktop (Image By Tech4Gamers) 
  3. Reinstall Docker: Head to Docker’s website > Download it > Run the installer.
    Download Docker Desktop
    Download Docker Desktop (Image By Tech4Gamers)

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. You can use the following instructions to get it done:

  1. Open Docker Menu: Go to the bottom-right of the Taskbar > Expand the System icon > Right-click on the Docker app.
  2. Switch Windows Containers: 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, as mentioned on their forums by multiple users. By re-enabling this feature, I fixed the persisting Docker startup issue. Here are the steps that can be utilized to reenable this feature quickly:

  1. Open Run: Access Run > Type Optional Features > Enter.
  2. Disable Windows Subsystem: Look for Windows Subsystem for Linux > Uncheck the box against it > OK.
    Uncheck the windows subsystem for linux
    Windows Features (Image By Tech4Gamers)
  3. Re-enable Windows Subsystem: Close the dialog box > Repeat the above steps > Mark the box against Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Final Thoughts

During my research, it came to my attention that multiple users were facing Docker Engine Starting 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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