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Protecting networks and devices from potential security threats are crucial for maintaining data safety. And you should always have a backup plan to fall back on if things go wrong.

The 3-2-1 strategy is one of the most efficient methods of data backup for safeguarding valuable and sensitive files.

It is impossible to build a 100% bulletproof security system. Your backup files can save you in critical events of system crashes and data breaches. Moreover, a backup strategy can be as simple as copying a file to a different location.

The 3-2-1 strategy, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive backup storage plan designed to prevent data loss.

3-2-1 Strategy Explained

The name 3-2-1 is a simple acronym that allows users to remember the steps of this backup procedure. The 3-2-1 strategy is one of the most common approaches to data backup and security. It is easy to remember and even easier to put in place in reality.

The strategy consists of the following rules:

  • Have at least three copies of your data at all times (3)
  • Store two backup copies on different storage media (2)
  • Keep one copy located off-site (in a different, remote location) (1)

By keeping the acronym 3-2-1 in mind, you will always be able to remember the steps of this data backup procedure. Here’s a brief overview of each rule.

1. Keep at Least 3 Copies of Your Data

The most common way of securing data from any loss is to create many copies. This particular strategy implies that you should create at least three copies of each file to prevent data loss. But the more copies you have, the more risk the data will face.

It is essential to ensure that each copy of the file is secured correctly. If you’re storing copies on the cloud, make sure to use a VPN to encrypt data and traffic while logging in and accessing the files. Moreover, file encryption can prevent the theft of confidential data in case the files get into the wrong hands.

2. Store 2 Backup Copies on Different Locations

The second rule of the 3-2-1 strategy indicates that you should store at least two backup copies in different locations. In other words, separate from the original file. The reason behind it is quite logical. In case the primary hard disk or storage compartment fails, you will still have copies available on different locations.

You can store other copies on an external hard drive or a USB drive. But make sure to keep each copy in a safe place, as anyone can steal or compromise the external storage units.

external storage

3. Keep at Least 1 Backup Copy Off-Site

Last but not least, make sure to store at least one copy off-site. What it means is that you should save the final copy of the files in a remote and preferably unrelated location.

Information security experts recommend this practice. It reduces the risk of data theft from the most prominent locations. Talking about enterprise data, for example, it is obvious that such files would most likely be on an account/network related to the company. To avoid data loss, store at least one copy on the most remote and random location that no one can tie back to your business.

Better Safe Than Sorry

The problem with data loss is that users tend to deny that something like that could happen to them. This kind of thinking leads users to neglect data backup procedures. They believe the original copy they have is secured enough. But it’s safe to say that we’ve reached a period in the digital age where there is no such thing as “secured enough.”

That said, it is better to be safe than sorry in case a cybersecurity attack takes place, and you end up losing all crucial files. To prevent complete data loss, put in place the 3-2-1 strategy over and over again. While creating copies might seem like a hassle at first, but it will be well worth it if you end up needing one of them.

Don’t forget to secure each copy by using a VPN and encrypting files for protection against unauthorized access. Keep in mind that cybersecurity threats aren’t the only reason you should start backing up your data. The possibilities of a natural disaster or device theft are also good reasons to have a backup strategy.

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