In today’s cybersecurity environment, backups are necessary to ensure a business’s survival in a post-incident or post-disaster scenario. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have the right backup system in place—and if they do have a backup plan, they don’t test it regularly to ensure that it will provide the business continuity it was designed for.
With more than 60% of businesses experiencing faulty or invalid data backups, it’s no wonder many organizations can’t meet established Recovery Time (RTO) or Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) to get their IT infrastructure back up and running in a post-disaster environment.
Follow the 3-2-1 Backup Rule to Ensure Business Continuity in a Post-Disaster Environment
Industry experts suggest following the 3-2-1 backup rule to keep data and infrastructure safe during all types of disaster—whether on-site, offsite, or in the network.
So, what is the 3-2-1 rule and how can it help your business stay productive during a data incident or other disaster?
The 3-2-1 Backup Rule is the Golden Rule of Technology Backups in Business
In a business climate where technology changes by the minute, the 3-2-1 backup rule has held strong. The rule applies to everything from virtual machines to physical hardware, whether it's stored locally or on a provider’s infrastructure. Following the rule can help your business implement a reliable approach to data backup.
The 3-2-1 rule requires that you have 3 copies of data stored on at least 2 different media or devices—and one of those copies must be located off-site. While many companies practice certain parts of the 3-2-1 rule, comprehensive backup can only be achieved when practicing all three at the same time.
The following three elements should be considered when establishing a backup plan designed for full protection:
1. The More, the Merrier: Have at Least Three Copies of Your Data
If you maintain an original copy plus two duplicate copies of your organization’s data, you significantly reduce the possibility of data loss or data breach in the event of an incident—and you can keep your business running through most any disaster. Consider the following math:
If your data or device has a 1/100 chance of failure and a second device has the same odds, your chances of losing data decrease from 1/100 to 1/10,000 (1/100 x 1/100).
- Bring a third device into the mix and your data loss probability rate drops to 1/1,000,000 (1/100 x 1/100 x 1/100).
So while it's obvious that having a single backup significantly reduces the chances of data loss disaster, it's also clear that a third copy exponentially improves the odds that your business can withstand an incident without experiencing catastrophic data loss.
2. Location, Location, Location: Store the Copies on Two Different Media
While you can definitely get away with storing all your backups on a single type of storage device, changing it up is a better business decision. The nature of a data disaster introduces the chances of total destruction of the device or location, meaning all data stored in that location is at risk of being destroyed—so why not use a combination of USB or external hard drive, network-based storage, and cloud?
Simply put, data stored on at least two different devices is less likely to result in data loss when one type of device is compromised.
3. Give Your Backup Some Breathing Room: Keep One Copy Off-site
Storing data in three different physical locations helps ensure that your valuable business data can survive a localized physical disaster. Consider this: if you store your backup in just one location near your primary place of business (even if it is off-site) and your area experiences a natural disaster, your backup is compromised alongside the data lost at your primary data center location.
To ensure that your business backup can survive a physical disaster, incorporate an off-site hot, warm, or cold site located in a completely different locale—one preferably outside the area of vulnerability of your primary business location. In other words, if your primary data center is located in a below-grade flood zone, be sure your backup location is located on higher ground. Many businesses opt for storing their off-site data backup in the cloud as a way to accomplish the dual goals of keeping their data off premise and stored in a different medium at the same time.
Without the guidance of a seasoned professional, it can be difficult to ensure your data and IT infastructure is truly backed up. Backups are tough, and—unfortnately—they break often. However, by using the 3-2-1 Backup Rule as a baseline for ensuring backup success, your company can rest assured that its following industry best practices to ensure all assets are fully protected in case of emergency.