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8/11/20 11:18 AM

Applying the 3-2-1 backup rule easily

background-3-2-1Choosing the right backup strategy is essential for companies and organizations. In times of digitalization many firms are dependent on constant access to their own storage infrastructure and also need to meet required high data protection laws.

Data loss has cost companies up to 900.000€ in 2019 - with rising tendency. According to Dell Technologies’ “Global Data Protection Index 2020 Snapshot”, which measures and evaluates the level of data protection strategies, organizations manage 40% more data than the previous year and even 831% more than 2016. 82% of companies surveyed report disturbances like cyber attacks or system failures in 2019. Unfortunately, data loss can never be precluded. Therefore it is important to minimize the risk of said data loss. 

“There are two kinds of people in the world - those who have had a hard drive failure, and those who will.” Peter Krogh, an US-American photographer, who himself was confronted with the loss of his work results, came up with the 3-2-1 backup rule, which is supposed to prevent loss of backup data for users.
Quintessentials of the rule: users make three backup copies of their data, use two different storage technologies and store one of them outside the house.
This means:


#1 – At least one copy off-site

All backup efforts are useless when all data is stored at the same physical location and can be destroyed by external factors like theft, flood or fire. Rule #1 therefore indicates, that backup copies must be stored off-site, with no physical accessibility to the original storage IT: Air-Gapping should be part of the 3-2-1 rule. In times of ever increasing Ransomware attacks, the use of Air Gap becomes even more important, since malware might surpass firewalls and virus protection when employees open infected email links or let unsecured own devices connect to the network.

#2 – At least two different storage technologies

Rule #2 states, that users should use at least two different storage technologies, which also show different security features. Different security features usually necessitate different storage mediums, which is referred to as media break. The background for this are the different failure probabilities, which, in combination, minimize data loss probability exponentially. By risk distribution across different technologies data loss caused by systemic errors will be minimized.

Ideally, alternative technologies have installed mechanisms, which also prevent loss of data through intentional or accidental manipulation, misconfiguration or hacker attacks. For reasons of business continuity, which comprises strategies and measures to minimize damages due to IT disruptions in companies and organizations, an additional backup is recommended to ensure at least limited operations even when primary backup fails. Put together this marks rule #3:

#3 – At least three backup copies

Meaning, that besides the main productive data storage at least two more copies should be made.

The word “backup” is self-explanatory: if you lose the original you still have a replacement - the backup. Primary storage, Backup and off-site copies mark the three needed backup copies.

The number of copies can easily be adjusted within the 3-2-1 rule. Backups are even more secure when three different technologies are used and two copies are stored off-site.

In summary: you should save at least three copies with two different technologies and store one of these copies outside the house.

3-2-1 in regards to Silent Bricks

The use of the 3-2-1 backup rule usually means that different storage systems are being used, which of course increases maintenance efforts and general IT system complexity. Because of its unique conception, the Silent Brick system is suitable to perform the 3-2-1 backup rule compliantly within its own system.

This is what a possible configuration could look like:
#1 – Silent Bricks are innately capable of offline use. When an offline instance of a full backup is made through media rotation (VTL) or replication (SecureNAS) it can be kept safe with secure access (e.g. in a safe). The air-gap concept proves itself especially useful in systems which require the highest security measures. Attacks on air-gap systems can not be ruled out though.

#2 – Silent Bricks are available with SSD or disk assembly. Incremental backups are saved on rewritable NAS volumes (SSD), while full backups are saved on linear, structurally safe SecureNAS volumes or via VTL on hard drive based Silent Bricks. Therefore, both storage technology and kinds of backup disks are different.

#3 – Primary storage data is saved on NAS volumes as incremental backup and on VTL or SecureNAS volumes as full backup.

Dell Technologies (2020). Global Data Protection Index. https://www.delltechnologies.com/de-de/data-protection/gdpi/index.htm#scroll=off
American Society of Media Photographers (2015). Backup Overview. https://www.dpbestflow.org/backup/backup-overview
William D. Bryant (2015). International Conflict and Cyberspace Superiority: Theory and Practice. https://books.google.de/books?id=LJ9GCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA107&dq=%22air+gapped%22&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22air%20gapped%22&f=false

Topics: Backup, Datensicherung

Author: Emily Nistler | Marketing at FAST LTA