Registry cache

The registry cache storage can be thought of as an extension to the inline cache. Unlike the inline cache, the registry cache is entirely separate from the image, which allows for more flexible usage - registry-backed cache can do everything that the inline cache can do, and more:

  • Allows for separating the cache and resulting image artifacts so that you can distribute your final image without the cache inside.
  • It can efficiently cache multi-stage builds in max mode, instead of only the final stage.
  • It works with other exporters for more flexibility, instead of only the image exporter.


This cache storage backend requires using a different driver than the default docker driver - see more information on selecting a driver here. To create a new driver (which can act as a simple drop-in replacement):

$ docker buildx create --use --driver=docker-container


Unlike the simpler inline cache, the registry cache supports several configuration parameters:

$ docker buildx build --push -t <registry>/<image> \
  --cache-to type=registry,ref=<registry>/<cache-image>[,parameters...] \
  --cache-from type=registry,ref=<registry>/<cache-image> .

The following table describes the available CSV parameters that you can pass to --cache-to and --cache-from.

Name Option Type Default Description
ref cache-to,cache-from String   Full name of the cache image to import.
dest cache-to String   Path of the local directory where cache gets exported to.
mode cache-to min,max min Cache layers to export, see cache mode.
oci-mediatypes cache-to true,false true Use OCI media types in exported manifests, see OCI media types.
compression cache-to gzip,estargz,zstd gzip Compression type, see cache compression.
compression-level cache-to 0..22   Compression level, see cache compression.
force-compression cache-to true,false false Forcibly apply compression, see cache compression.

You can choose any valid value for ref, as long as it’s not the same as the target location that you push your image to. You might choose different tags (e.g. foo/bar:latest and foo/bar:build-cache), separate image names (e.g. foo/bar and foo/bar-cache), or even different repositories (e.g. and It’s up to you to decide the strategy that you want to use for separating your image from your cache images.

If the --cache-from target doesn’t exist, then the cache import step will fail, but the build will continue.

Further reading

For an introduction to caching see Optimizing builds with cache.

For more information on the registry cache backend, see the BuildKit README.