What is your 3-2-1 backup strategy?

With the increase in cyber-attacks and particularly ransomware, it is becoming more than important than ever to ensure that you have a strong data protection strategy to protect your data. Whilst taking a nightly backup of your data is a good starting point, industry best practice recommends a minimum of a 3-2-1 data protection strategy to ensure your data is protected.

  • 3 copies of your data

  • On at least 2 different types of media

  • With at least 1 copy off-site

Let’s drill down into what each of these mean and how you could implement a 3-2-1 protection strategy.

3 – 2 – 1 Backup Strategy

A lot of businesses' data protection strategies involve simply taking a single nightly copy of your data to a backup server or in some cases to another location on the same server. A 3-2-1 protection strategy will dictate that alongside the production copy of your data that maybe held on a virtual machine, you should have at least two more copies, these could be on the backup server and with an external service that copies the data to the cloud. The strategy described above would also meet the 2 types of media requirement, in fact with the above your data will be kept with the server, on the backup server and on a cloud server so you have at least 3 types of media. Traditionally the way to take a copy of your data off-site has been tape, tape is now quite antiquated and whilst it still has its place I would recommend looking at copying your data to a secure cloud provider.


Tips for ensuring you have at least 3 copies of your data

It is now easier than ever before to ensure you have multiple copies of your data and I would recommend by looking at the systems you already have in place to offer this protection.

1.      SAN Snapshots – Most enterprise class SANs will come included with SAN Snapshot functionality, this will allow you on a set schedule to ensure you have a copy of all the data held on a LUN or Volume instantly. You will need to ensure you have sufficient space but there is rarely a performance impact and it is ideal to protect against a ransomware attack on your servers.

2.      Veeam Cloud Connect – Many businesses that have virtualised their servers will have invested in Veeam Backup and Replication to protect their virtual machines. One of the features within Veeam is the ability to take a copy of the data from you local Veeam server securely to a secure cloud provider. This will help you meet the off-site element of the 3-2-1 backup strategy.


As you can see the two examples above may give you two quick and easy ways to protect your data of the many ways that will be available to you. When creating your data protection strategy, you will want to ensure that as well as meeting industry recommendations you also meet your business needs. We recommend you start by completing an IT service catalogue to understand the important service IT provide to the business and how much downtime the business can afford. We want to set two important metrics for each service, these are a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The RPO is how much data you can afford to lose in a disaster scenario and the RTO is how long it will take you to recover your data.

When did you last test your data protection?

Finally, I wanted to close on the importance of testing your backup and DR strategy. No matter how much time you have put in to ensuring you have regular copies of your data stored in multiple locations if you are unable to restore that data it is a waste of time. Look to ensure you have a regular task to test your backup and DR data, document how the test went and reflect on how you could improve the process if needed next time.

Have you considered Disaster Recovery as a Service?

Disaster recovery as a service is now an increasingly popular method for backing up vital data and applications, as well as for providing immediate system failover to a secondary infrastructure. While the technology is still relatively new, these solutions can deliver numerous benefits to your business.