Docker Swarm Storage Options: Bind Mounts vs NFS Volume Mounts

When deploying services in a Docker Swarm environment, managing data persistence is crucial. Two common methods are bind mounts and NFS volume mounts. While both serve the purpose of persisting data outside containers, they differ in flexibility, scalability, and ease of management, especially in a clustered setup like Docker Swarm.

Bind Mounts directly link a file or directory on the host machine to a container. This method is straightforward but less flexible when scaling across multiple nodes in a Swarm, as it requires the exact path to exist on all nodes.

NFS Volume Mounts, on the other hand, leverage a Network File System (NFS) to share directories and files across a network. This approach is more scalable and flexible for Docker Swarm, as it allows any node in the swarm to access shared data, regardless of the physical location of the files.

Example: Deploying Nginx with Bind and NFS Volume Mounts

Bind Mount Example:

For a bind mount with Nginx, you’d specify the local directory directly in your Docker Compose file:

    image: nginx:latest
      - /data/nginx/data:/usr/share/nginx/html

This configuration mounts /data/nginx/data from the host to the Nginx container. Note that for this to work in a Swarm, /data/nginx/data must be present on all nodes.

NFS Volume Mount Example:

Using NFS volumes, especially preferred for Docker Swarm setups, you’d first ensure your NFS server (at exports the /data directory. Then, define the NFS volume in your Docker Compose file:

    driver: local
      type: nfs
      o: addr=,nolock,soft,rw
      device: ":/data/nginx/data"

    image: nginx:latest
      - nginx_data:/usr/share/nginx/html

This approach mounts the NFS shared directory /data/nginx/data into the Nginx container. It allows for seamless data sharing across the Swarm, simplifying data persistence in a multi-node environment.


Choosing between bind mounts and NFS volume mounts in Docker Swarm comes down to your specific requirements. NFS volumes offer superior flexibility and ease of management for distributed applications, making them the preferred choice for scalable, resilient applications. By leveraging NFS for services like Nginx, you can ensure consistent data access across your Swarm, facilitating a more robust and maintainable deployment.