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Backups should be as easy as 3-2-1

Backups should be as easy as 3-2-1

The importance of having a proper backup strategy is a topic that is getting more and more prominent in today’s IT world. This is because there are numerous ways in which data can be lost; cyber attacks, rogue employees, natural disasters, damaged storage media and simple human error are just a few we can mention.

Speaking of human error, you might be surprised to learn that this accounts for 25 per cent of all data losses. Think about something as simple as an office cleaner accidentally unplugging a data backup system so they can plug in their vacuum cleaner… this type of scenario still represents a small yet potentially catastrophic danger when it comes to data loss.

The only reasonable solution to deal with data loss is a proper backup strategy. The preparation and implementation of such a strategy is crucial to ensure the safety of data, and to delay this process, or have no backup for a period of time, is grossly negligent.

How do you create a backup strategy?

The 3-2-1 backup rule is a viable backup strategy which is practical and ensures data security. Here’s how it works:

  • Your data should be stored 3 times: One is your live/production data, the other two are backups to provide redundancy.
  • You should use 2 different technologies for your backups. There are plenty of media types available depending on your needs: NAS, external hard drives, flash memory, magnetic tapes, DVDs, the cloud, etc.
  • Always keep 1 of these backups outside of your location or company premises.

 Why does this work?

3: Storing the same data three times statistically minimises the chances of data loss. Suppose you save your data to drive 1 and the backup to drive 2. If the failure probability of drive 1 and drive 2 is 1/100 the probability of simultaneous failure of both drives is 1/100 x 1/100 = 1 / 10,000. With three backups, the probability decreases to one in a million.

 2: Using two different data storage technologies further reduces the probability of data loss occurring. It is not uncommon for two devices from the same batch and usage to have a similar lifespan – for example, light bulbs in your home or spark plugs in a car. With RAID systems, it is also common for multiple drives to fail one after the other when running in a degraded state.

 1: Keeping a backup in at least one other location is always recommended. This way, if there is a flood, fire, theft or cyber attack, not all backups will be lost. Keeping a backup in a secure safe, in the cloud or at another office will protect them from complete damage and loss should something go wrong.

By following a backup strategy like the 3-2-1 backup rule, you are taking a step in the right direction, however it’s important to action it immediately, especially if you’ve identified any potential weak points in your current method. Even performing a simple backup to an external hard drive will provide some form of security while you formulate a more comprehensive strategy.

If you’re interested in reading more, click here to find out why backups don’t always prevent data loss in every situation.

How you do back up your data? What different types of media do you use and why? Let us know by tweeting @OntrackUKIE

Picture copyright: Tim Reckmann/pixelio.de