If data protection is top of mind for your organization, you may have heard about the 3-2-1 backup rule. This backup strategy is essential to intelligent business operations that help with data recovery in a failure scenario. But what is the 3-2-1 backup rule? Keep reading for a comprehensive breakdown of how it works, why it’s essential and how you can implement it today.


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Why Data Backup Strategies Matter

Almost every business understands the importance of data backup strategies in a world that lives by the internet. Your data is a critical aspect of your business. It dictates many of your business decisions and helps you pay employees, track sales and more. Not only does data help you run your organization, but it also impacts your clients or customers. When people make purchases, most businesses collect banking information and other vital data, including mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

Backing up your data is essential to ensure you have access to information to run your business or respond to client and customer needs. Every computer user understands the frustration of spending hours working on a document, attempting to retrieve it and finding out they didn’t save it. Imagine being unable to access thousands of records due to a natural disaster, computer virus, technical glitch or ransomware attack. Ensuring you protect your data and can access it regardless of the emergency can keep your business running, give your customers and clients what they need and in many cases, keep people safe.

The 3-2-1 Backup Rule Explained

The 3-2-1 backup strategy is a system for keeping your data safe using three simple strategies:

  1. Create your primary backup and two copies.
  2. Save your backup to two different media.
  3. Keep a copy off-site.

With practically all information being digital, everyone’s data is at risk for vulnerabilities that lead to the loss of important information. Whether it’s a consumer who can’t access health information through their electronic medical record or a financial institution that can’t retrieve a client’s bank records, being unable to get information when people need it most creates havoc.

Losing data can create challenges for IT staff and others charged with restoring it. How you back up your data matters. The file cabinet approach of having hard copies of critical information available during an emergency can work when it’s impossible to retrieve digital files. However, the sheer amount of digital information most companies produce would require considerable warehouse space to store everything in paper files. Backing up data on external devices or in the cloud makes sense, which is why the 3-2-1 backup system is a good starting point.

There are numerous reasons for using multiple data backup methods. Many businesses and individuals have gravitated to the cloud for saving and backing up data. However, backing up data exclusively in the cloud means you can’t retrieve it without internet access. A widespread natural disaster can knock out internet service for days. Even if you have electricity, you can’t get to your items stored in the cloud without access to the web. That’s why you need alternatives like external hard drives that enable you to access data without an internet connection.

Air-Gapped Backups

In addition to allowing you to get to your data when you don’t have internet service, external drives can provide protection known as an air gap. Air gapping occurs when data created at the production site is offline or stored on media not connected to a network, making it impossible to hack. Government and military organizations often use air gapping to protect data. Storing data offline in the cloud is an air-gap method. Backing up data with offline devices must be handled with care. If there’s ransomware or malware in your system, it can infect the data you download to your air-gap device. If you need to use the device to access your data, you could face security risks. The recovery point for your data will need to be a time before the malware infects the system.

Benefits of Storing External Devices Off-Site

Keeping backup copies of your data off-site reduces the risk of data loss. A fire or natural disaster that destroys your structure can prevent you from accessing digital files. Backup data on storage devices such as drives, disks or paper files kept on-site is at risk of perishing during a fire or other disaster.


External hard drive connected to laptop Ensuring Data Resilience with 3-2-1 Backup Rule


Benefits of Cloud Storage

Backing up data in the cloud is inexpensive and efficient for preventing data loss. You can access the cloud anywhere you have an internet connection. You can store unlimited data with the cloud, so there’s no concern about running out of space. Since clouds are data centers, they exist in different geographical areas, allowing you to store data in more than one location. Keeping data in two clouds can serve as the second part of the 3-2-1 backup system. In addition to being a safe place for storing critical data, the cloud also offers digital asset management advantages for remote workers.

Cloud Backups Help Employees Work Smarter

Cloud storage makes it easier for remote employees to collaborate and retrieve data. They can view documents simultaneously and work on projects in real time without the hassle of emailing and downloading documents.

Benefits of Multiple Cloud Backups

Cloud servers can go down, so storing data on servers in different geographical locations provides a safety net that keeps you connected with your data. Storing data in more than one cloud has other benefits. When you have customers in another country, storing the data they need on a server in their location allows them to retrieve it faster without undue lag.

Everyone in the Organization Must Protect Data

Your staff must do their part to facilitate your digital information protection efforts. Remote employees must understand the importance of protecting data from hackers and prying eyes. It’s common for employees to work from their homes or from cafés and other public places. Leaving a computer unattended, using weak passwords or opening suspicious emails puts staff at risk for phishing and other scams. Accidental deletions can also threaten your data.

Backing Up Digital Assets Is an Ongoing Commitment

Backing up your data is not a one-and-done task but the beginning of many steps you should take to keep your digital information secure. The first backup will require extra time because it will include all the data and files you have amassed. Once you have all this information in a safe place, you continue making incremental backups to keep your data up to date. New data and updated information will be part of incremental backups.

To ensure business continuity, you must think about potential threats to your digital assets. It’s always best to consider new ways to back up data and secure your backups to stay ahead of the danger. Businesses of all sizes can use help with their IT functions. Whether a large corporation or a startup, you need experts who can objectively examine your data protection needs. Your company may not need full-time IT staff, but it does need full-time protection for your digital assets.


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Protecting Your Data With Safety Measures Beyond 3-2-1

When you get comfortable with your routine and surroundings, it’s easy to miss critical vulnerabilities. It can help to implement 24-hour monitoring to be aware of suspicious activity or server problems. Protecting on-site servers is an additional way to keep your digital files accessible and intact. Appropriate racking is essential to maintain physical security because server racks can keep would-be thieves away from data. A rack’s design can also provide ventilation that prevents a server from overheating. Any external drives should be stored in a fireproof safe to prevent loss in a fire.

Digital files could have legal ramifications, so the chain of custody is a consideration when protecting data. As you set up your 3-2-1 backup, decide who you’ll trust to ensure the data gets to the correct and secure storage area. You should have documentation of each individual involved in backing up files and getting copies to secure locations.

Get Expert Help

Businesses seeking critical data backup services rely on EIRE Systems, a leading independent professional IT service provider. EIRE provides professional IT services to many companies in Japan, including financial, insurance and other multinational sectors. Our clients include businesses and organizations from several countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

EIRE Systems can help you implement your 3-2-1 backup plan. We’ll discuss your concerns and evaluate your current system’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Our experts can help you with a backup plan to keep your business operational and protect your digital assets.

Your digital information is the backbone of your organization. Don’t allow a data breach, ransomware attack or other risks to shut down your operations. Contact us at EIRE Systems and get the technical expertise to protect one of your most vital assets. Give us a call today at + 81-3-5484-7935 and let’s work together to secure your data.