Maintaining a Wikibase instance


On this page you'll find some resources for gaining some insight into your Wikibase instance and to help keep it healthy and up to date.

Architecture overview


First, take a look at our table and diagram:

Docker tooling


The best tools for managing your Docker install are the ones you used to get it going in the first place: docker and docker compose. This manual can’t possibly replace a grounding in Docker, so check out Docker’s own command references for docker compose and the docker engine.

That said, here are some starter commands that might come in handy.

Before you begin

  • Container names created using docker compose begin with the basename of the directory in which they were created with the first docker compose up invocation. The example container names below begin with wbdocker_ because the examples were run in a directory named wbdocker.
  • As of 2023, docker-compose (with hyphen) as a separate command has been deprecated in favor of docker compose (without hyphen), an argument to the main docker command.
  • The commands below omit the explicit mention of docker-compose.yml and presume that you used the minimal install method. If you used the extended install method, you will need to specify every config file to be included, adding -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-compose.extra.yml to any invocations of docker compose.

Get a command shell on a container


You won’t need it for typical Wikibase activity, but for Docker beginners here’s one very useful command that connects to a running container:

docker exec -it <container name> bash

Copy a file to your local directory

docker cp wbdocker_wikibase_1:/var/www/html/LocalSettings.php LocalSettings.php

This also works in the other direction, and the combination is useful for, say, grabbing your LocalSettings.php, editing it and putting it right back.

docker cp LocalSettings.php wbdocker_wikibase_1:/var/www/html/LocalSettings.php 

Read Adam Shorland’s excellent blog post for more detail on modifying files on containers.

Stop the Docker containers


This command stops the Docker containers, leaving the machines (and of course all data) intact:

docker compose stop

As you might imagine, you can use docker compose start to start them again.

Delete the containers while preserving data


This command removes the containers but preserves all data in MySQL, MediaWiki and the query service in Docker volumes.

docker compose down --remove-orphans

Delete everything

  Warning: This command will remove ALL of the data you ever added to your Docker install, which includes MediaWiki, Wikibase, Elasticsearch and the MySQL database. There’s no coming back from this!

docker compose down --volumes



Each application in the Wikibase cluster has its own log output. Consult each service’s own documentation to learn how to read its logs.

In the directory where you placed your docker-compose.yml file, run the docker compose logs command and the name of the service (check the table above) to see its logs. For example:

user@host:~/docker$ docker compose logs  -f --tail=100 mysql
mysql_1 | 2019-12-31 10:00:00+00:00 [Note] [Entrypoint]: Entrypoint script for MySQL Server started.
mysql_1 | 2019-12-31 10:00:00+00:00 [Note] [Entrypoint]: Switching to dedicated user 'mysql'

Backup and restore


The data in your Wikibase instance is valuable. What would happen if your datacenter burnt down? How long would it take to rebuild? Regular backups and tested restores of data are vital.

Generally, there are two bodies of data you’ll need to back up: the MediaWiki/Wikibase filesystem and, more importantly, the MySQL database. First and foremost, we recommend reading the Wikibase Docker install doc to get the lay of the land.

Docker level


Since this is a Docker install, backup using Docker tools is recommended.

Docker-level backup is explained in some detail here. It involves backing up the Docker volumes and dumping out the database with mysqldump.

For a helpful overview of Docker data backup and restore, including the use of the docker save and docker load commands, read this excellent StackOverflow post. It’s been updated several times since its original posting in 2014 and constitutes a great tour and jumping-off point for the docker command-line reference linked above.

On-container level


Backup on the container level is not an easy proposition; we cover it here mainly to present a more complete picture of MediaWiki and Wikibase under the hood.

To that end, read the documentation on Manual:Backing up a wiki , bearing in mind that the work needs to be done from within the containers (cf. Docker tooling above) and the data extracted and placed somewhere safe outside of Docker.

Wiki tools


Wikibase is an extension of MediaWiki. Much of the functionality you’ll be working with is actually that of MediaWiki, so consult the Manual:Contents and the Sysadmin hub . Of particular note:



Keeping software up to date is the only way to obtain new features, not to mention how important it is to apply bug and security fixes.

To update Wikibase on Docker, read our upgrade documentation. [permalink]

Updating a manual install of the Wikibase suite isn't as straightforward: it involves upgrading MediaWiki itself (see the MediaWiki update documentation) and then the individual software components.