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Portainer vs Watchtower: What are the differences?


Portainer and Watchtower are both tools used for managing Docker container deployments. However, there are some key differences between the two.

  1. User Interface: Portainer provides a web-based user interface that allows users to easily manage Docker containers, images, networks, and volumes. On the other hand, Watchtower does not have a user interface and is primarily a command-line tool.

  2. Functionality: Portainer allows users to create, start, stop, and delete containers, manage container networks and volumes, and monitor container health. It also supports role-based access control for managing user permissions. Watchtower, on the other hand, is specifically designed for automatic updating of Docker containers, ensuring that the latest image versions are always deployed.

  3. Updates: Portainer does not have built-in functionality for automatically updating containers. Users are responsible for manually updating their containers when new image versions are available. Watchtower, on the other hand, is specifically designed for automatic container updates. It continuously monitors the Docker image registry for new versions and automatically updates the running containers.

  4. Integration: Portainer can integrate with external authentication providers, such as LDAP or AD, to authenticate users and manage user permissions. Watchtower, being a standalone tool focused on automatic updates, does not have any authentication or integration capabilities.

  5. Deployment Flexibility: Portainer can be deployed on any Docker host, whether it is running locally or on a remote server. It can also be deployed as a container itself or as a standalone binary. Watchtower, on the other hand, is typically deployed as a container alongside other containers and is not intended for running as a standalone binary.

  6. Community Support: Portainer has a large and active community of users and contributors, providing support and ongoing development. Watchtower, while still actively maintained, has a smaller community and may have fewer resources available for support.

In summary, Portainer provides a user-friendly interface for managing Docker containers, images, networks, and volumes, with support for role-based access control. Watchtower, on the other hand, focuses on automatic container updates, continuously monitoring for new image versions and updating running containers.

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Pros of Portainer
Pros of Watchtower
  • 35
  • 26
    Great UI
  • 19
  • 12
    Easy to setup, gives a practical interface for Docker
  • 11
    Because it just works, super simple yet powerful
  • 11
    Fully featured
  • 9
    A must for Docker DevOps
  • 7
    Free and opensource
  • 5
  • 5
    It's simple, fast and the support is great
  • 4
    Template Support
  • 2
    Automation Friendly
  • 1
  • 1
    Great community
  • 1
    Small footprint
  • 1
    Easy setup

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What is Portainer?

It is a universal container management tool. It works with Kubernetes, Docker, Docker Swarm and Azure ACI. It allows you to manage containers without needing to know platform-specific code.

What is Watchtower?

It is an application that will monitor your running Docker containers and watch for changes to the images that those containers were originally started from. If it detects that an image has changed, it will automatically restart the container using the new image.

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What companies use Portainer?
What companies use Watchtower?
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What are some alternatives to Portainer and Watchtower?
Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.
Mesosphere offers a layer of software that organizes your machines, VMs, and cloud instances and lets applications draw from a single pool of intelligently- and dynamically-allocated resources, increasing efficiency and reducing operational complexity.
Simple Docker App management for Mac OS X
An API-driven CMS without forcing you to make compromises in how you implement your site. The CMS for developers. Manage content like collections, regions, forms and galleries which you can reuse anywhere on your website.
Docker Compose
With Compose, you define a multi-container application in a single file, then spin your application up in a single command which does everything that needs to be done to get it running.
See all alternatives