Home > The 3-2-1 Data Backup Method Explained

The 3-2-1 Data Backup Method Explained




In today’s world, losing data is one of the biggest threats every business faces. Data is an asset that, unlike computer equipment or even the office space you rent or own, can’t simply be replaced in the event of a disaster.


What’s even more frightening about that reality is that data loss can occur in a number of ways — from crashed hard drives and power surges to malicious malware and ransomware that attacks your company’s computer systems. Data is not only likely your most important asset, but it is also extremely vulnerable to technology glitches.


Putting it at even greater risk are the same elements that can destroy physical property, like tornadoes, flooding, fires or earthquakes. Once you look at how many ways there are to lose access to this crucial information, you get a clear picture of just how at-risk your company’s data really is.

The Danger of Lost Data

Since your company’s data could include everything from intellectual property and financial records to customer lists, sales data, marketing plans, your product specifications and much more, it really is the lifeblood of your company. Imagine losing any of that data just for a day — and think about the economic impact on your business.

Now think about losing that data permanently. How much of that data would you be able to recreate? How much time and money would it take for you to recover from it? Or would your business even be able to withstand such a loss?

Statistically speaking, the answer is no. One survey by the PCI Council found that 60% of the small businesses that suffer a major data loss go out of business within six months.

Creating a Better Backup Plan

The solution to the threat of data loss begins by planning for the worst-case scenario. This means creating a “safe place” for your data and a plan that covers all the bases. In short, it comes down to having what is called a 3-2-1 data backup plan.

With the 3-2-1 backup plan, you will have a minimum of three copies of your data in different places; this will consist of the primary data source and two backups. The data should be stored on two different types of devices, and one copy should be stored off-site, away from your company. Even the U.S. government endorses this approach, so let’s take a look at how this works and why it’s effective.

Having three copies of your data begins with the original information, which is most likely stored on an internal hard drive. Next, you’ll look at other storage devices that work best with your system. Options can include external or removable drives or cloud-based storage. By adding backups, you’ve already increased data protection. You are much more likely to lose data if it is stored on the same type of device as the original data.

The final step of this backup strategy is to have a copy of data that is stored off-site. To be truly effective, that copy needs to be continuously updated in real time, such as through cloud backup.

The reason it needs to be off-site — and preferably in a different geographical area — is to ensure that if a fire or a natural disaster destroys the building, your data will still be safe. For example, if your original data is housed in the computer hard drive, and the backup data resides in an external drive that is kept at the same location, the third form of data storage could be the cloud.

Safety in Numbers

There’s no completely foolproof way to keep all your data protected at all times, but implementing the 3-2-1 data backup plan definitely buffers you against many of the potential hazards that surround data loss. Saving multiple copies in multiple locations eliminates the danger of having a single point of failure.

Protecting sensitive business data is an essential part of protecting your business. In today’s always-on, fast-paced world, even a few hours of lost business can be catastrophic, so finding a way to keep your data safe is mission critical.

On-site and remote backups, plus a cloud storage system, will keep your data protected 24/7, no matter what. For more info on data backup, download our free e-book, “Survival Guide: Avoiding a Data Apocalypse.”


Regardless of how large or how small your business is, it’s crucial to look for a company offering data protection services that is equipped to handle all your unique requirements.

At Aventis Systems, we have the expertise and experience to create a data backup strategy that will work for your specific business needs. Contact our experts today at 1-855-AVENTIS to learn more about how to protect your sensitive business data.

Recommended Reading