the disaster recovery plan calls for having tape backups stored at a different location

What is the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy? Why the 3-2-1 Method Is The Best Method

Data is at the heart of everything a modern business does. That’s why it’s vital that your business doesn’t lose any. Having effective cybersecurity in place can help prevent the chances of a cyber-attack and a disaster recovery plan can help you get back on your feet after an office fire, but for true peace of mind you need an up-to-date backup of your data. Well, to be precise you need more than one backup, but more on that later. 

Let’s look at some best practices for developing your own data backup strategy, as well as some technologies we’ve provided our customers with. 

What Data Should You Back Up?

You should back up files and databases to lessen the chance of data loss, but you should also back up your apps, your operating systems and everything else you can. You should also back up any virtual machines along with their management console. Remember to also back up mobile devices; your CEO’s phone might even have more sensitive and vital data on it than some of your desktops. 

Remember to review the scope of your backups regularly as your business circumstances change.

The Three-Two-One Rule

The three-two-one rule for data backup is an industry standard method for data backup. It represents the minimum conditions that must be met for a data backup to be reliable.

What Is The Three-Two-One Rule Of Backups Why Is This Important
Why is it called the Three-Two-One method? Let’s explain… 

  • Three
    You should keep at least three copies of your data. That means that in addition to the original copy, you should have at least two backups
  • Two
    You should utilise at least two different storage media for your data. Hard drive, cloud storage, and magnetic tape backup are all electronic methods for data storage. In some circumstances, the original copy of your data may be a physical document, and so in those cases paper could be considered one of the storage methods. The critical point is to have at least two different storage media
  • One
    At least one of the copies of your data should be kept separately from the other two. This is to lessen the chances that all three copies are simultaneously destroyed in the same incident. For example, you may have one copy of data on your desktop PC, and another copy on an on-premises hard drive. However, an office fire could destroy both copies of this data at the same time. However, if you had also had a third copy stored off site or in the cloud, your data would still be safe. 

Make sure that the backup solution you chose can secure all your data. Otherwise, some data may go unprotected, or numerous backup methods may be required. If you have a physical server, a solution that only backs up virtual machines would be insufficient. You need to employ a solution that backs up every device and system correctly.

It is not sufficient to store several copies of data on different internal hard drives of the same server, as a failure of that server would render all the copies unavailable. For the same reason, storing several copies of your backups on the same RAID array or in the same cloud does not allow you to satisfy this requirement of the 3-2-1 backup rule. The storage media need to be completely different and separate from one another.

Implementing The Three-Two-One Rule
Those using the data backup 3-2-1 rule often consider the first copy to be the original file, but you’ll need to create at least two more copies.

For the local copy, you could use any form of physical media including:
– Hard drive
– NAS drive
– USB drive
– Optical media (CD, DVD, BluRay)

For the copy in a different location you could use:
– Physical media in a different location
– A public cloud storage platform
– A private cloud network
– A data centre

How Businesses Should Use The 3-2-1 Rule
Implementing the 3-2-1 rule in your business can help you safeguard against data loss. Effective data backups like these are key to recovering quickly after a data breach or a ransomware attack. For this reasons, most business’s disaster recovery plans include some form of off-site data backup in order to maintain business continuity if your main site is rendered unusable.

Depending on how business critical the data you are backing up is, you may want to go beyond the 3-2-1 method and create even more backups. Some businesses might want to also have a backup of their data in a different country, not just a different location. However, before transferring any data off-site, you should check with a data protection specialist to ensure that you are not inadvertently violating any state or federal data protection laws.

The 3-2-1 backup rule is a decent general guideline to follow regardless of the size of your business or the amount of data you need to backup. It increases the dependability of your data backups and shields your data against the majority of disasters, such as ransomware attacks and natural calamities.

Make sure the backup software you chose is compatible with all the services and locations for data storage that you might need to employ to comply with the 3-2-1 backup guideline.

How Carden IT Services Can Help You Find The Right Data Backup Solution

At Carden IT Services, we offer professionally managed disaster recovery services. We audit your network, back up business-critical data off-site, and put measures in place to maintain business continuity before and after a disaster.  

We’ve implemented comprehensive data backup solutions for both small and large enterprises and we have the knowledge, technology, and expertise to help secure your organization’s data. Each of our clients has a dedicated account manager who works with them to learn about their organization and assist them in developing the best data backup and recovery plan possible. 

All your mission-critical data is securely backed up off-site in the cloud, allowing you to quickly recover and restore it in the event of a disaster. It also means you can restore your data to a second site or work remotely if your business premises are rendered unusable. We always follow the three, two, one rule and our services have saved some of our clients from disaster as they would have been unable to continue to operate without an effective backup.  

If you would like professional, expert help developing and implementing an effective data backup solution for your business, speak to our team today. 

Author: Jeremy Huson

Jeremy Huson is the founder and director of Carden IT Services LLC. He has nearly two decades of experience managing businesses’ IT networks and his areas of expertise are IT consultation and cybersecurity.