The ultimate 3-2-1 backup strategy: a step-by-step guide to securing your data
April 27, 2023

The ultimate 3-2-1 backup strategy: a step-by-step guide to securing your data

Two types of computer users exist: those who have lost data and those who will.

We've all been there: you need a file, but it's missing. You've just faced a data loss, and now you're attempting to recover it, only to find yourself frantically searching through email threads and cloud storage, hoping to locate the missing file.

Fortunately, there's a better way to avoid this situation: The 3-2-1 backup strategy is a foolproof method for keeping your data safe and sound. Whether you're a selfie aficionado, a document hoarder, or just someone who doesn't want to lose their favorite cat video, this guide is for you.

But wait, aren't you a cloud storage provider?

We are, and it might be counter-intuitive to suggest a strategy that implies that our hiveDisk might fail you.

Well, the hard truth is that even the most reliable cloud storage provider can suffer from unexpected outages, or worse. Anything and everything can fail, and don't trust anyone who claims otherwise. It's crucial to have several safety nets in place, much like diversifying investments.

So, what is the 3-2-1 backup strategy and how does it work?

Understanding the 3-2-1 backup strategy

The 3-2-1 backup strategy, developed by photographer Peter Krogh in his 2009 book Digital Asset Management for Photographers, is an easy-to-follow process for safeguarding your valuable data.

You might wonder how it remains relevant today, after 14 years and in a rapidly evolving tech world, but the sentiment still stands: it's always better to be safe than sorry. An additional step modernizes the strategy, but more on that later.

The strategy consists of three key components:

  1. Keep at least THREE copies of your data (your original and two backups).
  2. Store your backups on TWO different types of storage media.
  3. Keep ONE backup offsite to protect against physical disasters.

Why is this method so effective? By having multiple copies of your data stored in various locations and on different media types, you're maximizing your chances of recovering that precious information in case of any disaster, be it a hardware failure, a fire, or even a ransomware attack. And if you think data breaches and hacks are few and about, think again: every week, millions of records are exposed and stolen, potentially resulting in data loss.

The 3-2-1 backup strategy is not only effective but also incredibly simple and user-friendly, making it accessible to individuals and companies alike. It can be applied to any type of data storage, regardless of scale or situation, and its success rate for data recovery is unmatched.

The magic number - three copies

Three might seem like a lot, but trust us, it's the magic number when it comes to data security.

You'll have your original data (the stuff you're working with every day), plus two backups. Think of it as a data sandwich, with the original as the filling and the backups as the bread. Mmm, tasty data protection.

Why do you need two backups? Simple - one backup can fail, just like your original data. By having two backups, you're giving yourself an extra layer of protection. Remember, it's always better to have a spare umbrella in the trunk, just in case!

Two different storage media

Now, let's talk about storage media. You don't want all your digital eggs in one basket. The 3-2-1 strategy recommends using at least two different storage media types for your backups.

Here are some popular options:

  1. External Hard Drives: These portable pals are a great way to store large amounts of data, plus they're easy to carry around.
  2. USB Flash Drives: Small and convenient, these little devices pack a punch when it comes to storage capacity. Perfect for quick backups on-the-go.
  3. Network Attached Storage (NAS): A NAS device is like having your own private cloud at home, offering centralized storage for multiple devices and users. Great for families or small businesses.
  4. Cloud Storage: Online services like hiveDisk and Dropbox offer remote storage solutions that you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.

Mix and match these storage types to find the perfect backup combo for your needs!

One offsite backup

As much as we'd like to think our homes and offices are impenetrable fortresses, they're unfortunately not immune to disasters like fires, floods, or theft. That's why it's essential to have at least one backup stored offsite.

If you're using cloud storage, you're already one step ahead, as your data is stored in remote servers maintained by the service provider, or in the case of hiveDisk and its distributed architecture, in hard drives all around the world. For those who prefer physical storage options, consider taking a backup to a friend's house, a family member's place, or even a safety deposit box at the bank. You could bury one in your backyard. The main idea here is to keep one backup far away from your original data so that you don't lose everything in case of a local disaster.

Automate your backups

We get it; backing up data can be a bit of a chore. But fear not, technology has your back! You can automate your backup process using various software and tools, making it a breeze to keep your data secure. Some popular options include:

  1. Windows File History: Built into Windows 10 and 11, this handy feature allows you to schedule automatic backups of your files.
  2. Time Machine: For Mac users, Time Machine is a fantastic built-in tool that effortlessly backs up your files to an external drive or a network-attached storage device.
  3. Third-Party Software: Programs like Acronis True Image, and Carbonite offer comprehensive backup solutions that can automate and simplify the entire process for you.

Auto-back is also coming to hiveDisk very soon, and we are also preparing our own distributed solution for secure backups called hiveVault!

Remember, the key to a successful backup strategy is consistency. Automating your backups ensures you never miss a beat when it comes to keeping your data safe.

Test your backups

Okay, so you've got your backups sorted, but how do you know they'll work when you need them the most? The answer is simple: test them! Regularly check your backups to make sure they're working as intended and that you can access and restore your data without any issues. Think of it as a digital fire drill, preparing you for any potential data disasters.

The 3-2-1-1 Backup Strategy

IDC recommends the 3-2-1-1 backup strategy for extra protection. This updated backup strategy recommends storing one copy of your precious data on immutable storage. Unlike data encryption, immutability has no key, making it impossible to "read" or reverse. This extra step provides an additional layer of protection to the backup strategy, ensuring that your data is backed up and safe from potential cyber threats.

What is immutable storage?

Immutable storage means that file backups are saved using the write-once-read-many (WORM) system. This method ensures that the backups cannot be altered or removed, making them resistant to new ransomware attacks as well as accidental or intentional deletion.

You can enforce immutability on backups using various storage devices such as tape and optical disks. In addition, Linux OS-based systems and cloud services like AWS allow you to configure immutable storage.

The 4-3-2 backup strategy

You gotta give it to disaster recovery services for taking data backup up to eleven. According to this strategy, it is recommended that you make four duplicates of your data and store them in three separate locations.

In a 4-3-2 strategy, unlike the 3-2-1 method, two of the locations should be offsite. This means that your copies will be both geographically distinct and stored on different networks. The offsite copies are stored in an immutable format to protect them from natural disasters and corruption.

We don't think you need to go that far to protect your data, but you do you. Maybe you have something in your disk that needs that extra protection.

Why you should choose hiveDisk for your cloud storage backup strategy

At hive, we know that your data is valuable and needs to be protected at all costs. That's why we offer a P2P distributed solution that doesn't rely on energy-hungry data centers to store your data. Instead, we use a decentralized storage system that provides a higher level of security, reliability, and privacy.

The concept is simple: instead of stacking endless disks on data warehouses (like most cloud storage providers do), we employ the unused space already present on the hard disks found in the devices we have at home. Imagine all our laptops sharing their disk space to create a shared pool of resources. hiveNet, the cloud infrastructure behind hiveDisk, takes care of the admin stuff: it encrypts your data both at rest and in transit. It distributes it in small pieces across the hiveNet network, with only you having the key to bring it all together. It gives you access to your files whenever you need them and from all your devices.

This is cloud storage, but better.

try hiveDisk today

Protect your data with a solid backup strategy

And there you have it, the ultimate 3-2-1 backup strategy for safeguarding your digital treasures! Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry, and with the 3-2-1 backup strategy, you can rest easy knowing your data is secure. So go forth and protect your digital life with confidence!