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Keep Caddy Running

While Caddy can be run successfully by directly using its Command Line Interface, there are numerous advantages to using a service manager to keep it running, such as ensuring it starts back up when the system boots, and to capture stdout/stderr logging.

Linux Service

The recommended way to run Caddy on Linux distributions with systemd is with our official systemd unit files.

Unit Files

We provide two different systemd unit files that you can choose between, depending on your usecase:

They are very similar, but differ in the ExecStart and ExecReload commands to accommodate the workflows.

If you need to switch between the services, you should disable and stop the previous one before enabling and starting the other. For example, to switch from the caddy service to the caddy-api service:

sudo systemctl disable --now caddy
sudo systemctl enable --now caddy-api

Using the Service

To verify that the service is running:

systemctl status caddy

The status command will also show the location of the currently running service file.

When running with our official service file, Caddy's output will be redirected to journalctl. To read your full logs and to avoid lines being truncated:

journalctl -u caddy --no-pager | less

If using a config file, you can gracefully reload Caddy after making any changes:

sudo systemctl reload caddy

You can stop the service with:

sudo systemctl stop caddy

Manual Installation

Some installation methods automatically set up Caddy to run as a service. If you chose a method that did not, you may follow these instructions to do so:

Requirements:

Move the caddy binary into your $PATH, for example:

sudo mv caddy /usr/bin/

Test that it worked:

caddy version

Create a group named caddy:

sudo groupadd --system caddy

Create a user named caddy, with a writeable home directory:

sudo useradd --system \
    --gid caddy \
    --create-home \
    --home-dir /var/lib/caddy \
    --shell /usr/sbin/nologin \
    --comment "Caddy web server" \
    caddy

If using a config file, be sure it is readable by the caddy user you just created.

Next, choose a systemd unit file based on your use case.

Double-check the ExecStart and ExecReload directives. Make sure the binary's location and command line arguments are correct for your installation! For example: if using a config file, change your --config path if it is different from the defaults.

The usual place to save the service file is: /etc/systemd/system/caddy.service

After saving your service file, you can start the service for the first time with the usual systemctl dance:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable --now caddy

Verify that it is running:

systemctl status caddy

Now you're ready to use the service!

Overrides

The best way to override aspects of the service files is with this command:

sudo systemctl edit caddy

This will open a blank file with your default terminal text editor in which you can override or add directives to the unit definition.

For example, if you need to define environment variables for use in your config, you may do so like this:

[Service]
Environment="CF_API_TOKEN=super-secret-cloudflare-tokenvalue"

Or, for example if you need to change the config file from the default of the Caddyfile, to instead using a JSON file (note that Exec* directives must be reset with empty strings before setting a new value):

[Service]
ExecStart=
ExecStart=/usr/bin/caddy run --environ --config /etc/caddy/caddy.json
ExecReload=
ExecReload=/usr/bin/caddy reload --config /etc/caddy/caddy.json

Then, save the file and exit the text editor, and restart the service for it to take effect:

sudo systemctl restart caddy

Windows service

Install Caddy as a service on Windows with these instructions.

Requirements:

  • caddy.exe binary that you downloaded or built from source
  • Any .exe from the latest release of the WinSW service wrapper (the below service config is written for v2.x releases)

Put all files into a service directory. In the following examples, we use C:\caddy.

Rename the WinSW-x64.exe file to caddy-service.exe.

Add a caddy-service.xml in the same directory:

<service>
  <id>caddy</id>
  <!-- Display name of the service -->
  <name>Caddy Web Server (powered by WinSW)</name>
  <!-- Service description -->
  <description>Caddy Web Server (https://caddyserver.com/)</description>
  <executable>%BASE%\caddy.exe</executable>
  <arguments>run</arguments>
  <log mode="roll-by-time">
    <pattern>yyyy-MM-dd</pattern>
  </log>
</service>

You can now install the service using:

caddy-service install

You might want to start the Windows Services Console to see if the service is runnnig correctly:

services.msc

Be aware that Windows services cannot be reloaded, so you have to tell caddy directly to relaod:

caddy reload

Restarting is possible via the normal Windows services commands, for example via the Task Manager's "Services" tab.

For customizing the service wrapper, see the WinSW documentation

Docker Compose

The simplest way to get up and running with Docker is to use Docker Compose. The below is only an excerpt, see the docs on Docker Hub for more details.

First, create a file docker-compose.yml (or add this service to your existing file):

version: "3.7"

services:
  caddy:
    image: caddy:<version>
    restart: unless-stopped
    ports:
      - "80:80"
      - "443:443"
    volumes:
      - $PWD/Caddyfile:/etc/caddy/Caddyfile
      - $PWD/site:/srv
      - caddy_data:/data
      - caddy_config:/config

volumes:
  caddy_data:
  caddy_config:

Make sure to fill in <version> with the latest version number, which you can find listed on Docker Hub under the "Tags" section.

Then, you can start the container:

docker-compose up -d

To reload Caddy after making changes to your Caddyfile:

docker-compose exec -w /etc/caddy caddy caddy reload

To see Caddy's logs:

docker-compose logs caddy