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Keep Caddy Running

While Caddy can be run directly with its command line interface, there are numerous advantages to using a service manager to keep it running, such as ensuring it starts automatically when the system reboots and to capture stdout/stderr logs.

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:

  • caddy.service if you configure Caddy with a Caddyfile. If you prefer to use a different config adapter or a JSON config file, you may override the ExecStart and ExecReload commands.

  • caddy-api.service if you configure Caddy solely through its API. This service uses the --resume option which will start Caddy using the autosave.json which is persisted by default.

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

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:


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" \

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!

Using the Service

If using a Caddyfile, you can edit your configuration with nano, vi, or your preferred editor:

sudo nano /etc/caddy/Caddyfile

You can place your static site files in either /var/www/html or /srv. Make sure the caddy user has permission to read the files.

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 +G

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

The Caddy process will run as the caddy user, which has its $HOME set to /var/lib/caddy. This means that:

  • The default data storage location (for certificates and other state information) will be in /var/lib/caddy/.local/share/caddy.
  • The default config storage location (for the auto-saved JSON config, primarily useful for the caddy-api service) will be in /var/lib/caddy/.config/caddy.

Local HTTPS with systemd

When using Caddy for local development with HTTPS, you might use a hostname like localhost or app.localhost. This enables Local HTTPS using Caddy's local CA to issue certificates.

Since Caddy runs as the caddy user when running as a service, it won't have permission to install its root CA certificate to the system trust store. To do this, run sudo caddy trust to perform installation.

If you want other devices to connect to your server when using the internal issuer, you will need to install the root CA certificate on those devices as well. You can find the root CA certificate at /var/lib/caddy/.local/share/caddy/pki/authorities/local/root.crt. Many web browsers now use their own trust store (ignoring the system's trust store), so you may also need to install the certificate manually there as well.


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. This is called a "drop-in" file.

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


Similarly, if you prefer to maintain a separate file to maintain the environment variables (envfile), you may use the EnvironmentFile directive as such:


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):

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

Or, for example, if you'd like caddy to restart itself after 5s if it ever crashes unexpectedly:

# Automatically restart caddy if it crashes except if the exit code was 1

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

sudo systemctl restart caddy

SELinux Considerations

On SELinux enabled systems you have two options:

  1. Install Caddy using the COPR repo. Your systemd file and caddy binary will already be created and labelled correctly (so you may ignore this section). If you wish to use a custom build of Caddy, you'll need to label the executable as described below.

  2. Download Caddy from this site or compile it with xcaddy. In either case, you will need to label the files yourself.

Systemd unit files and their executables will not be run unless labelled with systemd_unit_file_t and bin_t respectively.

The systemd_unit_file_t label is automatically applied to files created in /etc/systemd/..., so be sure to create your caddy.service file there, as per the manual installation instructions.

To tag the caddy binary, you can use the following command:

semanage fcontext -a -t bin_t /usr/bin/caddy && restorecon -Rv /usr/bin/caddy

Windows service

There are two ways to run Caddy as a service on Windows: sc.exe or WinSW.


To create the service, run:

sc.exe create caddy start= auto binPath= "YOURPATH\caddy.exe run"

(replace YOURPATH with the actual path to your caddy.exe)

To start:

sc.exe start caddy

To stop:

sc.exe stop caddy


Install Caddy as a service on Windows with these instructions.


  • 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:

  <!-- Display name of the service -->
  <name>Caddy Web Server (powered by WinSW)</name>
  <!-- Service description -->
  <description>Caddy Web Server (</description>
  <log mode="roll-by-time">

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 running correctly:


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

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. See the docs on Docker Hub for more additional details about the official Caddy Docker image.


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

    image: caddy:<version>
    restart: unless-stopped
      - "80:80"
      - "443:443"
      - "443:443/udp"
      - ./Caddyfile:/etc/caddy/Caddyfile
      - ./site:/srv
      - caddy_data:/data
      - caddy_config:/config


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

What this does:

  • Uses the unless-stopped restart policy to make sure the Caddy container is restarted automatically when your machine is rebooted.
  • Binds to ports 80 and 443 for HTTP and HTTPS respectively, plus 443/udp for HTTP/3.
  • Bind mounts the Caddyfile file which is your Caddy configuration.
  • Bind mounts the site directory to serve your site's static files from /srv.
  • Named volumes for /data and /config to persist important information.

Then, create a file named Caddyfile beside the compose.yml, and write your Caddyfile config.

If you have static files to serve, you may place them in a site/ directory beside the configs, then set the root using root * /srv. If you don't, then you may remove the /srv volume mount.

If you need a custom build of Caddy with plugins, follow the Docker build instructions to create a custom Docker image. Create the Dockerfile beside your compose.yml, then replace the image: line in your compose.yml with build: . instead.


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 1000 most recent logs, and follow to see new ones streaming in:

docker compose logs caddy -n=1000 -f

Local HTTPS with Docker

When using Docker for local development with HTTPS, you might use a hostname like localhost or app.localhost. This enables Local HTTPS using Caddy's local CA to issue certificates. This means that HTTP clients outside the container will not trust the TLS certificate served by Caddy. To solve this, you may install Caddy's root CA cert on your host machine's trust store:

docker compose cp \
    caddy:/data/caddy/pki/authorities/local/root.crt \
    /usr/local/share/ca-certificates/root.crt \
  && sudo update-ca-certificates
docker compose cp \
    caddy:/data/caddy/pki/authorities/local/root.crt \
    /tmp/root.crt \
  && sudo security add-trusted-cert -d -r trustRoot \
    -k /Library/Keychains/System.keychain /tmp/root.crt
docker compose cp \
    caddy:/data/caddy/pki/authorities/local/root.crt \
    %TEMP%/root.crt \
  && certutil -addstore -f "ROOT" %TEMP%/root.crt

Many web browsers now use their own trust store (ignoring the system's trust store), so you may also need to install the certificate manually there as well, using the root.crt file copied from the container in the command above.

  • For Firefox, go to Preferences > Privacy & Security > Certificates > View Certificates > Authorities > Import, and select the root.crt file.

  • For Chrome, go to Settings > Privacy and security > Security > Manage certificates > Authorities > Import, and select the root.crt file.