The 3-2-1 Backup Rule & Why it’s important
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The 3-2-1 Backup Rule & Why it’s important

In the IT world, the 3-2-1 Backup Rule is a common backup and recovery strategy for any lost data. Its simple name makes it easy to remember that you need 3 copies of data, on two different media and 1 copy offsite. The rule basically answers, 1) How many backups should we have, and 2) where should we store them. In this blog, we will discuss the 3-2-1 backup rule in more detail and why it’s important.


Now, the world’s most valuable resource is data. So, there is no reason you shouldn’t be protecting the most valuable component of your business.

The 3-2-1- backup rule indicates that you should have 3 copies of data. That means your original data as well as at least two backups. And that’s the bare minimum.

Each copy reduces the chances of losing any data no matter what circumstances come your way. Here is a list of ways your data can be lost or compromised:

  • System crash
  • Ransomware
  • Hard drive failure
  • Natural disaster
  • Man-made disaster (E.g. a fire)
  • Human error

Don’t believe it could happen to your business?

Back in 1998, when Pixar wasn’t part of Disney, they were working on a film called Toy Story 2. One day they realized that their work was vanishing from their servers. At the time, Pixar was using tapes to back up their work. This strategy helped them restore from previous work they lost. However, they weren’t consistently using the tapes and didn’t realize they weren’t backing up properly. This is a very common oversite/error in the industry, where companies neglect “testing their backups” on a regular basis. Yes, it’s shocking. They didn’t have a backup of the movie.

Regardless of your industry, size, or product, have a comprehensive backup strategy and be sure the 3-2-1 rule is observed!

(An employee had a personal copy of the movie and they were able to retrieve it. In other words, it was their third backup that saved them.)


Now, we know how many backups we need. The second part of the 3-2-1 backup plan is storing your data on two storage devices. To be more specific, storing your second and third backup on different media.

Let’s say you take hundreds of pictures on your trip to Italy. You store the pictures on your phone. You may print them, or store them on an external drive. If your phone stops working, you still have a backup of the photos on your drive. The same goes for your data. You need at least two storage types; in case one fails.

Here is a list of storage media to choose from:

  • Spinning Disk on SAN
  • Backup Repository
  • Tapes
  • Object storage
  • External hard drives
  • USB drives
  • SD-cards
  • CDs, DVDs, floppy disks
  • Another internal hard drive in another storage location (For example, you store it in the hard drive in New York offices and another in the Montreal offices)


The final rule of thumb is to keep one of your backups, which is on a unique media, in a completely separate location. This way, you have 1) your primary data, 2) your second backup on a different media and 3) your third backup, on another media, and offsite.

You want to create space between your primary data and your backup. If there was a natural disaster, your primary data would be compromised. And your backups would be compromised if located in the same room. As a result, this offsite copy is important for disaster recovery so you can safely restore your data after a crisis.

On a positive note, with Veeam and Assurance IT you can have your backup data offsite, but online for rapid recovery. If you are interested, Assurance IT offers Disaster Recovery as a Service. Find out more here.


Having a backup plan is crucial in our technological world. The3-2-1 plan is well-known within the IT industry and respected by IT pros. Andin all honesty, things happen. You never think it will be you, but the risk is too high not to have a comprehensive backup strategy.

The 3-2-1 backup plan ensures your business continues to run, no matter the circumstances. Business continuity ensures there is no downtime preventing employees from working. There is no loss of production, and ultimately there is no money lost.

Plus, losing data is scary. It can literally diminish the value of your business, or worse, put you out of business!

On a very serious note, cyberattacks are on the rise. Hackers are targeting small businesses because they’re easier targets. So, no matter the company size, what industry it’s in, and what you offer, backup plans are crucial to protect your data.


The 3-2-1 Backup Plan is an easy way to remember how many backups you need and where they should be located. It is possible for any business to lose data. Reasons to use a backup system includes a system crash, a hard drive failure, and a cyberattack, just to name a few reasons.

Best practices include storing your data on different media as well as storing it offsite. The offsite backup also serves a disaster recovery so you can safely restore data in case of a natural disaster. If you need Disaster Recovery as a Service, find more information here.

Finally, backing up your data can potentially save your business. Data is extremely valuable in today’s world and losing it is very scary.Further, backups maintain business continuity.

What backup strategy do you currently have?


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