Analyse Docker Stats With Python & Pandas

Docker has a great tool for watching current CPU, memory and I/O in our containers: docker stats. The output is streamed and we can get a quick insight of the current situation, though it’s hard to see if any memory is lost over time. For that we need to store the output over a longer period of time for later analysing.


Pipe the output of docker stats with the flag — no-stream into a csv-file. Load the log files with pandas.read_csv and format the data to standardise the units. View an example on this github repo.

Logging Docker Stats

Let’s start with creating a folder to store the log files in. We don’t want to pollute the root folder with csv-files now, do we?

For the loggin, we’ll simply run docker stats and pipe the output into a csv-file every 10th second. We can name the file to the current date to separate the logs so each file doesn’t get too large. Let’s use date to create the filename with ./`date -u +”%Y%m%d.csv”`. The script is cancelled with ctrl/cmd+c.

Download The Log Files

If we’re logging the data on a server, we’ll have to download it to our local machine. This can be done with secure copy protocol scp.

Analyse The Data With Pandas in Jupyter Notebook

Assuming you have multiple log files that needs to be read into the same data frame, we can use the standard glob and os.path modules to fetch the filenames. Make sure to sort the filenames so the data is in chronological order.

Creating The DataFrame

We’ll use Pandas so read the csv-files and create the data frames. The columns in the log files will unfortunately not be separated by semicolon or tabs, we’ll have to split the columns by multiple white spaces. This can be easilly done with delimiter=r”\s\s+”. Pandas has a function, df.concat, that we’ll use to merge the data from all log files into the same data frame.

If we inspect the log files, we’ll se that docker stats prints the header for every timestamp.

Let’s remove those repeating headers from the data frame.

Now, for the tricky part. How do we get any workable values for fields like MEM USAGE / LIMIT where the value are 5.828MiB / 7.448GiB?

Let’s create some handy functions to help us out. Firstly we’ll need to split the column MEM USAGE / LIMIT into two different ones, one for memory usage and one for memory limit. We know that the split will be around the slash, so let’s create a function to either take the first (left) or second (right) element.

Next, we’ll have to standardize the unit since memory unit is in MiB and limit in GiB. When the value is 5.828MiB, we need to split it up into the numbers (and decimal) 5.828 and the string MiB. This can be done with some regex and the standard python module re. Combined, we can create a function to_bit that will convert the entries to the same magnitude.

The percentage attributes MEM % and CPU % are easier to parse. We simply have to remove the last character, i.e. the percentage sign, and convert the value to a float.

Plotting Memory Usage

Let’s plot the memory usage and see if we have any pesky memory leaks. For the plotting, let’s use Seaborn. Seaborn is based on matplotlib and makes plotting a bit easier, but still allows the customisability of matplotlib.

First thing first; the standard size of plots are just too small — let’s enlarge it a bit with figsize. Since docker stats doesn’t log the timestamps, we might as well remove the ticks on the x-axis.

Take a look at that! The redis memory is increasing! Better have an eye on that one 🕵️


It would be great if docker stats could store to a file and not only support us with streamed snapshots of the current state. Though, when piped into a csv-file it is useful to have that extra information when tracking down a memory leak — especially when your cloud provider does not have a tool for displaying memory used. I believe the main takeaway from this is the power of Pandas, that tool never stops to amaze.

Energy Engineer by trade, but Software Developer by heart. Doing my best to save the planet; currently by optimising heat- & energy production at Sigholm Tech.