Container Apps - Demystifying restarts

6 minute read | By Anthony Salemo

This post will discuss some behavior surrounding “restarts” on Azure Container Apps.


There may be times in logging, or maybe, custom alerts (if set up), that indicates a Container App restarted. Typically one of the first thoughts is “why”.

Note, this post will not nessecarily go into troubleshooting regarding any adverse reactions to restarts. But rather explain some of the potential reasons why this may occur and behavior of it.

“Restart” behavior

Since Container Apps is inheritly Kuberentes-based - and given the fact that application(s) run as a pod or replicas - a “restart” is a bit different than what be thought of as restart an existing container.

When a Container App is restarted - such as through the Revision -> “Restart” option (but also for the reasons listed in “Restart reasons” below), this ends up creating a new pod or new replicas. This does not restart just only a container or containers in the pod/replicas at the time and retain those specific pod/replicas. New pod/replicas (and thus new containers) will be created.

Again, given that this is inheritly a kubernetes concept - and pod/replicas are the “smallest schedulable unit” - we’re technically not operating at a per-container basis, when it comes to restarts.

When a “restart”/pod or replica movement does occur, it follows the below approach:

ACA restart behavior

  1. Pod someapp-klis5dn--klis5dn-5988c6bbbf-ppbdw is running
  2. An event explicitly restarts the revision, or some other event occurs that creates a new pod
  3. New replica some-appklis5dn-8579475cfd-tktxh is assigned to a node, the pod is created, the containers created, and the containers start:
    • Replica 'some-appklis5dn-8579475cfd-tktxh' has been scheduled to run on a node.
    • Images are repulled
    • Create system and app containers
    • Start system and app containers
  4. Containers in pod someapp-klis5dn--klis5dn-5988c6bbbf-ppbdw are stopped
  5. Pod someapp-klis5dn--klis5dn-5988c6bbbf-ppbdw is deleted

The red box in the foreground shows the concept of “no downtime” deployments where at a brief point in time there are two (2) replicas running.

This is why in certain views you may see a brief increase in replica count in these kinds of scenarios.

This can also be seen in the ContainerAppSystemLogs_CL or ContainerAppSystemLogs Log Analytics/Azure Monitor tables and focusing on the ReplicaName_s column. You’ll notice the change in pod or replica names and event activity like:

TimeGenerated              Log_s                                                                                                                ReplicaName_s
1/11/2024, 7:23:21.206 PM  Replica 'some-app--v8yb5cv-68cf9bd595-vqwrp' has been scheduled to run on a node.
1/11/2024, 7:23:26.855 PM  Pulling image ""                                                             some-app--v8yb5cv-68cf9bd595-vqwrp
1/11/2024, 7:23:28.297 PM  Successfully pulled image "" in 1.111535414s (1.11154593s including waiting) some-app--v8yb5cv-68cf9bd595-vqwrp
1/11/2024, 7:23:28.297 PM  Created container simple-hello-world-container                                                                       some-app--v8yb5cv-68cf9bd595-vqwrp
1/11/2024, 7:23:28.297 PM  Started container simple-hello-world-container                                                                       some-app--v8yb5cv-68cf9bd595-vqwrp
1/11/2024, 7:23:31.527 PM  Stopping container simple-hello-world-container                                                                      some-app--v8yb5cv-6cbc7f9c8b-fg8vn

Health Probes failing after restarts:

After a restart-like event, you may see something like readiness probe failed: connection refused. For the context of this post, this is not talking about most of what is described in Container Apps: Troubleshooting and configuration with Health Probes

Potentially, if you notice and compare the Replica/Pod name - you may actually see that this is occuring for the previously shutdown containers and deleted pod. Below is an example via ContainerAppSystemLogs_CL for a pod being removed due to a restart.

TimeGenerated                Log_s                                        ReplicaName_s
1/11/2024, 7:23:31.527 PM    Stopping container simple-hello-world-container
1/11/2024, 7:23:37.012 PM    readiness probe failed: connection refused   my-app--v8yb5cv-6cbc7f9c8b-fg8vn
1/11/2024, 7:23:32.009 PM    readiness probe failed: connection refused   my-app--v8yb5cv-6cbc7f9c8b-fg8vn
1/11/2024, 7:23:42.471 PM    readiness probe failed: connection refused   my-app--v8yb5cv-6cbc7f9c8b-fg8vn

What is happening is that probes are being sent to these containers after being shut down from a restart-like event. This is harmless and can be ignored.

Restart reasons

  • Management operations, such as:
    • Creation of new revisions (which creates a new pod/replicas)
      • This can be manually done to explicitly create a new one
      • Any changes to revision scope properties
        • Common themes would be changing the image or tag, environment variables, and others
      • Scaling up
        • Note, that scaling out would appear as if new replica was starting and not restarting in the sense of old pod/replicas being shutdown and new ones being created
    • Restart of a revision

Node movement:

Kubernetes-based applications run on nodes - which is essentially just some type of server (a VM, physical machine, etc.). If coming from Azure App Service - there may be familiarity with instances and platform upgrades.

This same compute concept applies to Container Apps. At times, there may be platform maintenance or node “movement” for other reasons - which is also called out in Azure Container Apps environments

This will also appear to look like a restart. To prevent any potential issues in these cases - it’s typically a good idea to run >= 2 replicas or more

Note, that in certain cases you may also see something like 0/4 nodes are available (although 0/x count will vary) - in most cases, this likely does not affect the application, and can rather be a sign of node movement and pod/replicas being rescheduled.

Back-off restarts:

This is probably one of the closest concepts to a classic container restart in a Kubernetes based environment. When back-off restarts occur, this means the container is consistently failing to be started.

  • An example of this would be consistently exiting upon startup

This will appear in ContainerAppSystemLogs_CL or ContainerAppSystemLogs - this is a product of a failing container and not an explicit user action technically.

When this occurs, the container will attempted to be restarted a defined number of times before the pod/replica is marked as failed. This may look like the following in the above Log Analytic / Azure Monitor tables:

Log_s                                    ReplicaName_s                                  Reason_s
Persistent Failiure to start container   some-app--6v70gws-995846dc9-jbvdz              ContainerBackOff