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Backups: How many do I need and where do I store them?

Threats to your files can come in all shapes and sizes, from device theft to a malicious attack on your network, or even a fire or leak in your office.

Written by Courtney Farrow

March 2018

Backing up your data is as simple as 1, 2, 3.

Creating multiple copies of your most important data might seem like a tedious task, but it can save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run. If and when disaster strikes, all of your data remains safe and the amount of downtime you could experience is significantly reduced.

A brilliant and simple way to backup files is by following the 3-2-1 method. We’ve outlined how many backups you should have and where you need to store them.

Make three copies of your data.

The first rule of the 3-2-1 method is to have at least two more backups in addition to your original files.
Many people make the mistake of having one, single backup of their files. Whilst this is certainly better than not backing up your data at all, having at a minimum of two extra duplicates significantly decreases the chance of data loss.

If you keep one spare copy of your documents in a drawer next to your desk, the backup could be used if your main computer or device fails. However, if there is a flood, fire or break-in at your office and your main computer (plus the extra storage device) is damaged, both sets of data will be destroyed.

A third copy, as the final point of the 3-2-1 rule explains, should ideally be stored in a different location to the first two versions.

Use two different types of storage device.

In order to protect your data even further, be sure to use no less than two types of storage device. For example, avoid using two USB sticks or two laptops.

Again, this limits the chance of a storage failure. If your USB stick isn’t working for a particular reason, there is a likelihood that the other one may not be able to successfully backup your files too.

There are loads of reliable and affordable storage devices out there, including external hard drives, SD Cards, CDs and even the humble floppy disk!

Alternatively, you could use two hard disks, as long as they were stored in separate places.

Keep one backup copy offsite.

Whilst the technology part of backups is crucial, one of the best things you can do is physically store your files in different locations.

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s all well and good making several replicates of your data, but if they are stored in the same location, they are likely to all to be impacted if a disaster does occur. In this unfortunate scenario, you would lose all of your data.

For larger businesses, this step is fairly straightforward. You probably already have additional premises to store your backups at. However, startups and SMBs may not have this luxury. In this case, transitioning to the Cloud may be a feasible option for you. This way, a backup of your business’ data can be stored securely on a remote server that is managed by a trusted company, such as Microsoft or Amazon.

We love the 3-2-1 rule because it can work for all sorts of data types, business models and on both physical and virtual environments.


If you would like more advice on how to set up backups successfully, please get in touch with a member of the Singularitee team.

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