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Using Containers

This document describes the basics of containers and how to leverage the containers in your plan to speed up your job and workflow runs.


Every change committed to your VCS system triggers CircleCI to checkout your code and run your job workflow inside of a fresh, on-demand, and isolated container with access to the following depending on your plan:

  • Concurrency - Utilizing multiple containers to run multiple builds at the same time. To take advantage of concurrency, configure your development workflow using the Orchestrating Workflows document and run your jobs in parallel as shown in the Sample 2.0 Config Files document.

  • Parallelism - Splitting tests across multiple containers, allowing you to dramatically speed up your test suite. Update your .circleci/config.yml file to run your tests in parallel as documented in the Configuring CircleCI document. Learn how to update your config file to parallelize and split tests to decrease your build time by reading the Running Tests in Parallel documentation.

Getting Started

Linux plans start with the ability to run one workflow without parallelism at no charge. Open source projects include three additional free containers to run jobs in parallel. Purchasing a Linux plan enables you to use additional containers when you need them. Choose a paid or free plan during the signup process and change your plan in the CircleCI app Settings page later to meet changing business requirements. Most CircleCI customers use two to three containers per full-time developer. Increase the number of containers at any level of parallelism and concurrency as your team or the complexity of your workflow grows.


Refer to the FAQ about upgrading for step-by-step instructions about upgrading your plan.