What is a 3-2-1 Backup Strategy?

Today we are generating more and more data than ever before. Mobile devices that are a part of our everyday lives generate and store amounts of data that would have been unthinkable not too long ago. Add to that what we generate elsewhere and we have significant amounts of “stuff”.

Important data needs to be backed up, because losing it could cause all sorts of damage. From the emotional loss of family pictures to the financial loss of business records. If you’re considering backup and recovery solutions, you’re probably going to hear the phrase “3-2-1 Backup” come up a lot.

Is 3-2-1 Perfect?   There is no such thing as a perfect backup system, but the 3-2-1 approach is a great start for most people and businesses. Even the United States Government recommends this approach!

What is a 3-2-1 Backup Strategy?   A 3-2-1 strategy can be summarized as having at least 3 total copies of your data, 2 of which are local but on different mediums or devices, and at least 1 copy offsite. For example, “doggie1.jpg” is a picture that lives on your computer at home. It is a picture you took of your dog. That’s one copy of the data. You also have an external hard drive that you use for backing up your computer. As part of the backup process, that external hard drive will back up doggie1.jpg. That’s a second copy on a different device. In addition to the external hard drive, you also have an online backup solution. The online backup continuously scans your computer and uploads data offsite to a datacenter. Doggie1.jpg is included in this upload, and that becomes the third copy of data.

Why 2 Onsite and 1 Offsite?   Whether you are interested in backing up a Mac or a PC, an onsite backup is a simple way of having quick access to your data should anything happen to your computer. If your laptop or desktop’s hard drive crashes, and you have an up to date external hard drive available, you can quickly get most your data back, or use the external on another computer while yours get fixed or replaced. If you can keep that external hard drive up to date on a regular basis, the exposure for data loss can be minimal. Most external hard drives come with software to make sure they are kept up to date.

Removable storage media (tapes, external hard drives, USB drives, SD-cards, CDs, DVDs, or even floppy disks) are all suggested methods to keep copies of your data protected.

Having an onsite backup is a great start, but having an offsite backup is a key component in having a complete backup strategy. Onsite backups are great if you need to get them quickly, but unfortunately, having a backup near the device that it’s backing up (for example, having a desktop PC and an external hard drive on the same desk), means that both of those copies are susceptible to data loss. A continuously updated copy of your data that’s not in the same physical location as the other two is critically important in protecting your files.

Backing Up Is Like Investing!   The 3-2-1 plan is a great start in getting your files backed up. If you view your files as your investment capital, you want to diversify them as much as possible to limit your exposure should the unthinkable happen. Having a local backup and an offsite backup gives you more options for backup recovery. CenCal TEK recommends starting with a 3-2-1 approach by using products, like Veeam and StorageCraft to implement these strategies. Reliable backups are the foundation of your disaster recovery plan!