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3-2-1 Backup Rule

Data backup is a vital process that every single computer user should undergo. Your hard drive stores a lot of important data, especially if you’re using a computer in a business environment. Your home computer could store family photos, videos and music, while your work computer could store financial spreadsheets, presentations or meeting notes. With so much usage of smartphones nowadays too, data is travelling with you at all times.

Whatever your data is, chances are you’d suffer if you lost it. Whether that’s suffering annoyance or financial loss depends on the severity, but it’s something that can be avoided.

Data backup doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, a lot of users know that they should back their data up, but they still don’t. This article is going to explore the 3-2-1 backup rule, to help explain what it means and how you can go about putting it into practice.

The 3-2-1 backup rule is grounded in the concept of redundancy. That is, if one copy of your data fails then you’ll have at least another to fall back on and restore with ease. No matter what, you need to have a copy of your data that’s safe. Let’s take a look at the rule in detail and understand each number.

The 3-2-1 backup rule is: at least three copies of your data, in at least two different formats, with at least one stored off-site.

Bear in mind that this is the minimum that you should be doing – there’s absolutely no harm in going above and beyond and making even more copies of your data.

When the rule says ‘three copies of your data’, it does not mean copying it multiple times on a single hard drive. Storing your data in different folders on your computer is not protecting anything. If your hard drive fails then it’s going to take all that data down, no matter which folder you’ve put it in.

Having at least three copies of your data will mean that even if, somehow, two of them fail, you’ve still got another one to utilise. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The rule states to store these copies on at least two different formats. A format can be a hard drive, solid state drive, tape, disc or any other reliable method for storing data. Each format has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to storing data and redundancy, so spreading your copies out across different formats helps combat this.

Finally, store at least one copy of your data in an off-site location. It’s all well and good having three copies of your data, but if all of these are stored in the same building then you’re not truly protecting yourself. These copies could all be wiped out simultaneously in a natural disaster, like a flood or fire, or could even be stolen. Having data stored off-site keeps your data safe.

Hopefully this article has encouraged you to reconsider your backup plan, or even implement one if you haven’t already. Follow the 3-2-1 rule and you’ll be well on your way to having your data protected from disaster.


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