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October 03, 2023

Top 5 Kubernetes Errors and How to Solve Them

What Is Kubernetes Troubleshooting?

Kubernetes troubleshooting refers to the process of identifying and resolving issues within a Kubernetes cluster. Kubernetes, an open-source platform, is designed to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. While the platform is quite powerful and versatile, it can sometimes be challenging to diagnose and fix issues that arise during its operation. This is where Kubernetes troubleshooting comes into play.

Troubleshooting Kubernetes requires a deep understanding of how Kubernetes works, its various components, and how they interact with each other. Troubleshooting can range from simple tasks like checking the status of a pod and restarting the pod with kubectl, to more complex tasks like debugging a service or resolving network connectivity issues.

The ability to troubleshoot Kubernetes effectively can save hours of frustration and potential downtime. It can also ensure that your applications run smoothly, leading to improved user satisfaction and productivity. As such, Kubernetes troubleshooting is an essential skill for any DevOps engineer or IT professional working with Kubernetes.

Why Errors Happen in Kubernetes

Complexity of the System

Kubernetes is a highly complex system with multiple layers of infrastructure and numerous moving parts. It is designed to manage and orchestrate containers across multiple hosts, making it a powerful tool for modern application deployment. However, this complexity also means that there are many potential points of failure.

A single Kubernetes cluster involves pods, nodes, services, deployments, and more. Each of these components has their own set of configurations and dependencies, and a problem in any one of them can affect the entire system. Therefore, the inherent complexity of Kubernetes is one of the main reasons why errors occur.


Misconfiguration is another common cause of errors in Kubernetes. With so many components and configurations to manage, it's easy to make mistakes. A misplaced setting, an incorrect value, or a missing parameter can lead to unexpected behavior and errors.

For example, if a deployment configuration specifies more replicas than the available resources can support, Kubernetes will continually try and fail to create the extra pods. Similarly, if a service is configured to route traffic to a non-existent pod, it will result in a service outage. Therefore, understanding and accurately configuring Kubernetes is crucial for its smooth operation.

Resource Constraints

Resource constraints are another common source of errors in Kubernetes. Every container in a pod requires a certain amount of CPU and memory resources to run effectively. If these resources are not available, Kubernetes may fail to schedule the pod, resulting in errors.

For instance, if a node is already running at its maximum capacity and cannot accommodate any more pods, any further attempts to schedule pods on that node will fail. Similarly, if a pod requests more resources than are available on a node, Kubernetes will not be able to schedule the pod, resulting in a resource constraint error.

Version Compatibility

Version compatibility issues can also lead to errors in Kubernetes. Kubernetes is frequently updated with new features and improvements. However, these updates can sometimes introduce changes that are not compatible with older versions of Kubernetes or certain applications.

For example, a newer version of Kubernetes might deprecate certain APIs that your application relies on, causing your application to fail. Similarly, if your nodes are running different versions of Kubernetes, it can lead to inconsistencies and errors. Therefore, it's important to keep your Kubernetes version and your applications up-to-date and ensure they are compatible.

Top 5 Kubernetes Errors and How to Solve Them


The ImagePullBackOff error means that Kubernetes couldn't pull the container image from the specified registry. There are a few reasons why this could happen.

Firstly, you might have spelled the image name incorrectly, or the image doesn't exist in the registry. Another common cause is network issues. If Kubernetes can't reach the registry due to network problems, it will result in an ImagePullBackOff error. Lastly, there might be authentication issues. If the image is in a private registry that requires authentication, Kubernetes needs the correct credentials to pull the image.

To resolve this issue, ensure you have spelled the image name correctly and that it exists in the specified registry. For network issues, confirm that your cluster nodes can reach the registry. You can do this by logging into the node and attempting to manually pull the image using Docker. For authentication issues, create a secret of the type docker-registry and add it to the default service account.


Another common Kubernetes error is CrashLoopBackOff. This error occurs when a container keeps crashing after it gets started. Kubernetes has a built-in functionality where it tries to restart a container when it crashes, but if the container keeps crashing, Kubernetes will eventually give up and you'll see the CrashLoopBackOff error.

The root cause of this error is usually within the application that is running inside the container. It could be due to the application crashing because of an exception or the application might be finishing its task and exiting.

To debug this error, you can use the command kubectl logs <pod-name> to check the logs of the container. Another useful command is kubectl describe pod <pod-name> which will give a detailed description of the pod and might provide hints about the error. If the application inside the container is the issue, you will need to fix the application code.

ConfigMap Not Found

ConfigMap is a useful feature in Kubernetes that allows you to separate your application's configuration from your container image. However, it can occasionally lead to a "ConfigMap not found" error.

When you encounter this error, it is usually because the ConfigMap that you are trying to use in your pod doesn't exist in the same namespace as your pod. Remember, Kubernetes isolates resources using namespaces. Therefore, a pod in one namespace cannot access a ConfigMap in another namespace.

To fix this error, ensure that your ConfigMap and your pod are in the same namespace. You can do this by specifying the namespace when you create the ConfigMap or the pod. If they are in different namespaces, you will need to either move the ConfigMap to the same namespace as the pod or vice versa.

Insufficient CPU or Memory

Kubernetes provides a way to limit the amount of CPU or memory that a container can use. However, if these limits are set too low for a container, you might encounter errors due to insufficient CPU or memory.

When you encounter this error, it means that your container is trying to use more CPU or memory than its limit. Kubernetes will then terminate the container, and you'll see an error message that the container was killed due to an out of memory (OOM) condition.

To solve this error, you can increase the CPU or memory limit for the container. You can do this by modifying the resource limits in your pod's configuration. However, be careful not to set the limits too high, as this could lead to resource starvation for other containers.

Service 503

The last common Kubernetes error we'll discuss is the Service 503 error. This error occurs when there is an issue with your service, and Kubernetes is unable to route traffic to your pods.

A Service 503 error might be due to several reasons. For example, your service might not have any endpoints, which means that there are no pods to route traffic to. Another reason could be that your pods are not ready to receive traffic.

To resolve this error, first check if your service has endpoints using the command kubectl get endpoints <service-name>. If it doesn't, you might need to check your pod's status or your label selectors. If your service has endpoints but you're still seeing the error, it might be because the pods are not ready. You can check your pod's readiness using the command kubectl describe pod <pod-name>.

In conclusion, mastering Kubernetes troubleshooting is an essential skill for managing and maintaining a healthy Kubernetes environment. While the complexity of Kubernetes can make troubleshooting challenging, understanding the common errors and their solutions can help you quickly and efficiently resolve issues, ensuring your applications run smoothly and reliably.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung (News - Alert) NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.

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