3-2-1 data backups: How to progress with an updated approach?


The 3-2-1 data backup framework clearly states that you should have 3 copies of the data (the production data and 2 backup copies) on two separate devices (disc and tape) for disaster recovery and one copy off-site. For an untold number of enterprises, this backup technique has helped avoid data losses.

When you get hit with a “good” assault, it’s painful every second your system is down. Expensive too, according to Gartner, at a rate of $5,600 per minute. A problem with the conventional 3-2-1 backup rule is that your recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) may be impossible to meet. Worse still, if backups are corrupted, you could lose all your data until you pay an amount.

Traditional 3-2-1 essentially recommends that you retain at least three copies of data.  Although it appears like having two copies on various media in two sites or on two devices implies that if your primary storage goes wrong, that may not always be the case, you will instantly have easy access to the backup and if ransomware enters into the system of an admin, it can spread rapidly and even damage your secondary storage.

If this is happening to you, the main share and on-site backups are corrupted, so you shut down the systems and set in motion your backup and recovery plan for disasters. This is when you’re turning to backups offsite and that is where the trouble starts. With secondary storage mainly installed at relatively low cost to backup protection and volume, tape-based storage is very often engaged but is painfully slow. The conventional disc drives bog down the recovery solely because of bandwidth constraints.

It would take plenty of time for the applications and data to return online after a disaster which is a very expensive time, which is why a 3-2-1 solution that involves fast recovery is essential. In the conventional 3-2-1, the “2” represents the number of media types that you should be using. We claim the “2” is meant to refer to locations. The user will need the initial copy near the endpoints so that the data can be easily retrieved if a disaster occurs. The last thing users want to think about is connectivity or latency. The second copy of the backup should be stored outside the VLAN or offsite.

Holding the copy off the VLAN protects the data from certain malware or ransomware while holding it offsite safeguards against a sitewide catastrophe such as a fire or hurricane. Companies need a highly efficient backup plan preferably with unified, simple management, and a data security process powered by SLA to meet the RTO and RPO.

What if a catastrophe causes your central copy and offsite storage to go down? It is here that the “1” comes into play in 3-2-1. It refers to store the third copy of the backup in a safe, alternate site.

It’s time to get a new take on 3-2-1 backups and quit several of the old practices.


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