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Prepare for the worst – Backup your data with the 3-2-1 rule.

Posted by RJ Volosky on Mar 21, 2018 8:33:44 AM
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RJNow that technology is integrating so fully with our day-to-day lives, the concept of backing up data is more and more commonplace.  People backup their phones with iCloud or Google Cloud.  People use cloud file sharing services to have another copy of their pictures, documents, music and other personal data.  Personal computer cloud backup services like Mozy and Carbonite are well-established brands.  These trends are for very good reason—it’s a fact that data loss isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  That’s why in any conversation about data backups, it is often said that if data doesn’t exist in at least two places, it may as well not exist.  These solutions exist for that reason, and because the explosion of tech users over the last decade has coincided with an explosion in the need for backups. 

But what of enterprise data?  It is just as vulnerable, and quite often the stakes of data loss are much larger.  An organization’s data is its lifeblood, and if it’s lost the consequences are at best a severe loss of employee productivity, revenue, and client goodwill.  At worst, a data loss without a means to recover could mean the end of the organization itself.  This may seem a bit dramatic, but one need only look to the case of GitLab just one year ago to see how much damage backup failure can do.  When they lost a database due to a simple human mistake made by one sleep-deprived administrator, they found that five different backup methods they were using were all insufficient.  They also quickly found out the importance of having well-planned and consistently verified backups. 

The prospect of data loss is one of the bogeymen that keep CTOs and Systems Administrators alike awake at night.  The answer to this looming danger is simple, however, and that’s to keep frequent, redundant, and verified backups of all production data and production servers.  As is often the case, things that are simply stated (like this) are not always so simply implemented.  None of the personal backup solutions mentioned above are suitable to the requirements needed for backing up an organization’s production environment.  Of course, there are several enterprise backup solutions available, but there’s no such thing as a simple out-of-the-box solution when it comes to enterprise backup.  Any solution needs proper configuration, planning, and regular testing to fully mitigate the potential disaster of data loss.

There are numerous items, from scalability to testing schedules, that need to be considered when implementing a robust backup strategy.  One of these, and arguably the most important, is the 3-2-1 rule.  Simply stated, the 3-2-1 rule means the following:  There should be three copies of your data, one production and two backups.  One of those backups should be offsite.  The rule was coined by professional photographer Peter Krogh, a person whose very livelihood resides in the data storage containing the digital images he takes.  Since then, it’s been a widely adopted best practice for backup strategies of all kinds.

Following this rule means that when (not if) your data storage fails, you will be prepared with a backup.  But you will also be prepared if the data storage holding your backup fails at the same time, because you have an extra copy of the backup.  Lastly, having one of the backups at an offsite location means you’ll be prepared in the event of a physical catastrophes.  If the building holding your data storage meets with disaster in the form of fire, tornado, hurricane, or any other act of God, the offsite copy of your backup means that you’ll be covered.

Planning for the 3-2-1 rule involves a number of factors, such as considerations of what should be backed up and how often, where the local backups will reside (they should certainly be on a different data storage system than your production data), how offsite copies will be handled (will they be stored in a cloud service, or will you have someone designated to physically remove them and store them in a secure location), and more.  It can be an overwhelming task to plan for every contingency, but the guidelines of the 3-2-1 rule give that planning direction. 

Springthrough’s managed services team excels in backup planning and implementation, and we can help plan your backup strategy in a way that offers the protection your production data requires.  If you don’t know what your current backup strategy is, or if you don’t think it follows the 3-2-1 rule, call us today and schedule an evaluation of your environment.  Together, we can make sure that your production data is safe from disaster.  To paraphrase Peter Krogh, there are two types of companies in this world—those who have experienced a data loss and those who will experience data loss in the future.  Learn from the mistakes of others and make sure your data is protected before disaster occurs, not after.

Topics: Development Trends, IT Services: Back to basics, Company Culture

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