How To Fix and Troubleshoot Docker Desktop Windows Won’t Start

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Docker Desktop is a common application to run virtualized Docker containers. It’s a much lighter weight VM and it has grown in materiality with mainstream adoption. If you have Docker Desktop whether is the Community or Enterprise edition on Windows 10 with WSL2 enabled, this guide will help you troubleshoot with any issues when running the latest Docker Desktop app.

Docker desktop updates about the same frequency as your Windows 10 insider edition. Meaning if you have it check for a new release, you will be prompt for upgrades from time to time. Most of the time applying an upgrade isn’t necessary, after all why fix it if it isn’t breaking. While this may be true in some way until one day Docker Desktop stopped working even without a version upgrade. This happened to me a while ago and those are the below error I received, and I can tell you the error guide isn’t helping.

Virtualization Error

An error occurred. Hardware assisted virtualization and data execution protection must be enabled in the BIOS.

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But if you go to BIOS or UEFI and find the Virtualization section and verified the “Enable Intel Virtualization Technology” is checked. And also verified that “Virtual Machine Platform” is enabled in Windows Features, but Docker just still won’t’ start and keep giving the error.

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Sometimes you might get errors like:

An error occurred. System InvalidOperationException: Failed to deploy distro docker-desktop

Or similar error below, then it’s likely the error was not because you didn’t have Virtualization enabled. But rather it’s because your WSL2 was outdated and require an update to the latest Linux Kernel.

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You can download the latest WSL2 Linux Kernel here. With newer Windows 10, and WSL2 shipping along with the new release. Microsoft now ships with a true Linux kernel and this is required to be updated if you want to have docker running properly.

Docker Failed to Start After Windows 10 Upgrade

If the above doesn’t work, and Docker failed to start after Windows 10 upgrade. You can try the following.

  1. Reset Docker Desktop to factory defaults, waited around 15 minutes if nothing happened and status remained 
    Docker Desktop is resetting to default...
  2. Then proceed to run the following command in PowerShell with administrator rights wsl.exe --unregister docker-desktop and wsl.exe --unregister docker-desktop-data
  3. Uninstall Docker Desktop
  4. Reboot
  5. Install Docker Desktop Edge (this is particularly important if you are running Windows 10 Insider edition with the latest Beta release of Windows)

Hope those steps above helps to troubleshoot your Docker issues with Windows, if you have other solutions or ran into other errors feel free to let us know so you can help us help others.

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