The 3-2-1 Backup Strategy for Your Business

Your managed services provider (MSP) business certainly can’t afford customer data loss in the event of an emergency. Any smart business owner will agree: your data needs a backup plan.

To prevent a data loss crisis, companies sometimes rely on a backup appliance, or a local-only backup to a nearby storage device. But these methods alone aren’t enough to ensure reliable protection from possible calamities like malware infection, insider attack, natural disaster, or physical hardware damage. To protect your valuable information, large and small businesses alike should consider employing the 3-2-1 backup strategy.

The 3-2-1 backup strategy has become an informal standard in IT management circles. It’s a respected program with the ability to safeguard corporate information on multiple fronts. Even if your data seems to be safe on a backup drive, recovery from just a single backup source can rapidly become unreliable if that source becomes compromised or if you lose access. To ensure minimal downtime and the best chance of full recovery, businesses should follow the three steps outlined in the 3-2-1 backup rule.


What Is the 3-2-1 backup rule? 

The 3-2-1 backup rule is a catchy and memorable way to ensure all your bases are covered in the event of a data emergency. The formula is simple:

  • Keep three separate copies of your data (one of which you can use as your production copy)
  • Store them on at least two different types of media (for example, tape and disk)
  • Store at least one of the three copies offsite, away from your production data center


If your business follows these three rules, you’re almost certain to remain protected in a worst-case scenario.


Three copies of your data

Keeping multiple copies of your data is always a good idea. Data protection isn’t just a precautionary measure—it can save your business from major income loss and outright failure.

A common misconception about data protection is that it’s only necessary in case of physical damage to your systems, like a fire or a flood. However, it’s more likely that a data emergency will come in the form of a cyberattack. If your system information is compromised due to an infection or an attacker who has gained password-protected access to your company data, you may need to disable your access points or even your entire system to prevent a major information breach.

Keeping multiple copies of your data at hand helps to ensure a higher chance of speedy recovery. If you’re lucky, keeping just one other copy of your data might be enough. But relying on only one backup can put you in a sticky situation if an unusual disaster causes your backup to be compromised as well. That’s why the 3-2-1 backup plan calls for a total of three copies of your data.

Two types of storage media

Your hard drive isn’t bulletproof. Tape storage can degrade over time. Something as simple as a leaky water pipe can compromise physical media. Even if you’re using the most cutting-edge data protection software, physical damage to your system can compromise your backup data. If your physical system fails, breaks, or gets stolen, you need to be able to access your information from a different device.

Especially for multi-tenant backup, data needs to exist in multiple places. There are many ways to establish a second storage unit. You can transfer your data to another hard drive, disk drive, safely-located USB, or cloud storage device.

One offsite backup

If all else fails, your data should also be accessible in another location entirely. For a 21st century organization, this usually means online server backup to a cloud-based storage unit. For businesses that use cloud-based backup, your encrypted data can be hosted in a private global cloud created by your software provider. In case a major disaster strikes your office, your data should be safe and sound somewhere far away from the site of the disaster.

Cloud-based backup is especially popular because of its accessibility. A backup cloud provides offsite storage that can be quickly retrieved to another device or location to get your business back on its feet with minimal downtime. A hybrid approach, with cloud-first backup storage plus a local copy, can satisfy the 3-2-1 requirements fully.

Even if you successfully prevent an attacker from stealing your information, you need to retrieve your offsite data—and get your services up and running—as quickly as possible. Your customer service and the quality of your brand reputation can quickly depreciate if your system is slow to recover. That’s why effective corporate backup strategies often keep data backup on a cloud platform that sysadmins can easily access.

Applying the best backup plan to your business

When it comes to backup, the key is to make sure all of your bases are covered. Using the 3-2-1 backup strategy helps to ensure your data is stored in multiple locations, on multiple storage media, with a speedy recovery in mind.

When your business is protecting its data using a 3-2-1 plan, SolarWinds® Backup is here to help at each step of the way. For physical and virtual servers as well as application data and files, and workstations, SolarWinds Backup offers protected offsite storage in the SolarWinds global cloud, included in your price.

SolarWinds Backup is specially designed for today’s needs. With specific storage protocols for Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), Backup also allows you to manage protection of Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive, from the same multi-tenant dashboard used for server and workstation backups. Backup’s user-friendly interface allows MSPs to quickly recover data to minimize downtime and meet your RTOs.

For small and large businesses alike, SolarWinds Backup offers a scalable solution that helps to avoid unnecessary complications. With SolarWinds Backup, rescuing your data is as easy as 3-2-1.

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