The 3-2-1 backup rule for data protection

The 3-2-1 backup rule for data protection

All businesses must take steps to protect their data. Whether it’s customer information, financial data, or intellectual property, your company’s data is valuable. Safeguarding this data should be done both through prevention (antivirus, password policies, etc.) and recovery (backup and data recovery) solutions. One of the best ways to protect your data is by following the 3-2-1 backup rule. Let’s explore what this means and why it's important.

What is the 3-2-1 rule?

The 3-2-1 backup rule for data protection involves creating three copies of your data on two different types of media, with one copy stored offsite. The rationale behind this strategy is that if one copy of your data fails due to physical damage or corruption, you will still have two other copies available on different media so you can recover your data quickly.

Why it’s important to follow this backup strategy

Some critics of the 3-2-1 rule suggest that a secondary copy of data on-site is unnecessary with the increasing stability and affordability of cloud storage. But there are still benefits to redundant on-site media, especially when needing to access large amounts of data quickly.

Businesses rely heavily on technology to store and manage their information. A local backup solution is a good start, but disasters such as flood, fire, or cyberattacks can destroy local backups along with the original copy of the data. You could potentially lose years of critical data without having any way to recover it. Some businesses use a strategy known as "drive swapping." With this strategy, a member of staff manually switches two or more external drives intermittently, taking the redundant drives off-site. Our biggest concern with this strategy is that someone must remember to perform the swaps repeatedly, leaving room for error.

That's why following the 3-2-1 principle for backup and offsite storage is so important. It provides an automated extra layer of security that ensures that even if something happens to one copy of your data, you will still have another accessible version somewhere else.

How to implement this backup principle

Keep at least three copies of each file both locally and in multiple locations (e.g., cloud storage). This ensures that you have multiple versions in case one becomes corrupt or damaged due to unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters or cyberattacks.

Choose two different types of media such as external hard drives or RAID arrays so you have additional backups should one type fail.

Store at least one copy in an offsite location like a cloud storage or physical secure facility. From there, you can access your data remotely while protecting it from damage in case something happens at the primary site where backups are kept.

The limitations of any backup strategy

A multi-layer approach to business continuity is always best. This is well illustrated by the way hackers have pivoted their extortion strategies from encryption to exfiltration. With good backups, businesses don't need to pay hackers to decrypt their data. Businesses can instead scrap the encrypted, inaccessible data and rebuild their systems from a recent backup. So hackers are instead (or sometimes in conjunction) threatening to release sensitive data if their victim does not pay them. This can damage the company's reputation and devalue its intellectual property.

Prevention and recovery

For this reason, you should pair a good backup strategy with preventative maintenance and security solutions (like MFA) to mitigate the need for recovery. Data protection is essential for any business owner looking to keep their company running smoothly and securely. Disasters come in many forms, whether natural or manufactured, intentional or accidental. By following the 3–2–1 principle for backup and offsite storage, your business can continue to operate no matter what kind of disaster may strike.

Do you have questions about business continuity? Contact Team Technology today for more information!