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how to stop a pod in Kubernetes

In Kubernetes, you cannot directly “stop” and then “start” a pod in the same way you might stop and start a virtual machine.

Pods in Kubernetes are designed to be ephemeral and stateless entities, managed by higher-level controllers like Deployments, StatefulSets, or DaemonSets.

The lifecycle of a pod is tied to the lifecycle of the container(s) running inside it.

When a container exits, the pod is considered “terminated” and is not restarted unless managed by a controller that decides to create a new pod to replace it.

However, you can achieve a similar effect to stopping and starting a pod by deleting it.

When a pod is deleted in a deployment managed by a controller (like a Deployment or StatefulSet), the controller notices the missing pod and creates a new one to replace it, effectively “restarting” the application in a new pod.

This is how you can “stop” (delete) and then have Kubernetes “start” (recreate) a pod.

If you’re just starting with Kubernetes, there’s no need to stress. This web story is designed to walk you through everything you need to know about pods.

Stopping a Pod

To “stop” a pod, you essentially delete it:

kubectl delete pod <pod-name> -n <namespace>

When you delete a pod, Kubernetes removes it from the cluster. If the pod is managed by a Deployment, StatefulSet, or another controller, the controller notices the pod’s absence and creates a new one to replace it, effectively “restarting” the application in a new pod.

Starting a Pod

There’s no command to “start” a pod once it’s been stopped (deleted). However, if the pod is managed by a controller (like a Deployment or StatefulSet), Kubernetes automatically starts a new pod to maintain the desired state (the number of replicas specified).


  • Scaling Down and Up: For deployments or stateful sets, you can scale the number of replicas to 0 and then scale back up. This stops all pods in the set and then starts them again.Scale down:
    kubectl scale deployment <deployment-name> --replicas=0 -n <namespace>

    Scale up:

    kubectl scale deployment <deployment-name> --replicas=<desired-number> -n <namespace>
  • Deleting and Recreating Resources: You can also delete the entire Deployment, StatefulSet, or DaemonSet and recreate it. This approach is more disruptive and not recommended for production environments without careful planning.

Important Considerations

  • Stateful Applications: Be cautious with stateful applications (like databases). Deleting pods can lead to data loss if the data is not stored on persistent volumes or managed properly.
  • Downtime: Deleting pods or scaling down will cause downtime. Plan accordingly and consider the impact on your services.
  • Persistent Volumes: Ensure that any persistent data is stored on persistent volumes (PVs) to prevent data loss when pods are deleted.

In summary, while you can’t directly stop and start individual pods, you can manage the lifecycle of pods indirectly through the controllers that manage them or by scaling the number of replicas.

Managing Stateful Applications

StatefulSets: For applications that need stable, unique network identifiers and persistent storage, use StatefulSets. StatefulSets ensure that your pods are created and deleted in a predictable order, and they can help manage stateful applications more effectively.

Persistent Volume Claims (PVCs): Ensure your stateful data is stored on Persistent Volumes (PVs) through Persistent Volume Claims (PVCs). This decouples the lifecycle of your data from the pods, allowing your application to retain its state even when pods are deleted and recreated.

Strategies for Restarting Pods

While you can’t directly “start” a stopped pod, you can achieve similar results through various strategies:

Rolling Restarts: For deployments, you can perform a rolling restart, which restarts pods in a controlled manner to avoid downtime. Use the command

kubectl rollout restart deployment <deployment-name> to initiate a rolling restart.

Deleting Pods: In environments managed by controllers (like Deployments or StatefulSets), deleting a problematic pod can be a quick way to refresh its state, as the controller will automatically create a new pod to replace it.


In Kubernetes, various kubectl commands are used to manage and check the status of pods, including their creation, termination, and current state. Here’s a list of commands that are commonly used for these purposes:

Check Pod Status

  • Get the list of all pods:
    kubectl get pods

    This command lists all pods in the current namespace, showing their status, which could be Running, Pending, Failed, etc.

  • Get detailed information about a specific pod:
    kubectl describe pod <pod-name>

    Replace <pod-name> with the name of your pod. This command provides detailed information, including events, which can help diagnose issues.

Create a Pod

  • Create a pod using a YAML definition file:
    kubectl apply -f <filename.yaml>

    This command creates or updates resources (including pods) based on the YAML definition provided in <filename.yaml>.

  • Create a pod imperatively (less common):
    kubectl run <pod-name> --image=<image-name>

    This command creates a new pod named <pod-name> using the specified container image <image-name>. However, using YAML files is recommended for reproducibility and version control.

Delete/Terminate a Pod

  • Delete a specific pod:
    kubectl delete pod <pod-name>

    This command deletes the pod named <pod-name>. If the pod is managed by a higher-level controller (like a Deployment or StatefulSet), the controller might create a new pod to replace it.

  • Delete all pods in a namespace:
    kubectl delete pods --all

    This command deletes all pods in the current namespace. Use with caution, especially in production environments.

Stop (Pause) a Pod

Directly stopping a pod isn’t a typical operation in Kubernetes, as pods are meant to run continuously. However, you can achieve a similar effect by scaling down a Deployment or StatefulSet that manages the pod:

  • Scale down a Deployment or StatefulSet to 0 replicas:
    kubectl scale deployment <deployment-name> --replicas=0


    kubectl scale statefulset <statefulset-name> --replicas=0

    This will terminate all pods managed by the Deployment or StatefulSet, effectively “stopping” them. Scaling back up will create new pods.

Additional Commands

  • Check logs of a pod:
    kubectl logs <pod-name>

    This command shows the logs for a specific pod, which is useful for troubleshooting.

  • Exec into a pod:
    kubectl exec -it <pod-name> -- /bin/bash

    This allows you to run commands inside a container in the specified pod, similar to SSH-ing into a traditional server.

  • Watch pods in real-time:
    kubectl get pods --watch

    This command continuously watches for changes in pods and updates the display in real-time, which is useful for monitoring the status of pods as they are created, terminated, or change state.

Remember, the exact commands and options you’ll use can depend on your specific requirements, such as the namespace you’re working in (-n <namespace-name>) or the labels you’re filtering by (-l key=value).