In today’s world, we store our important photos and documents digitally. That wedding picture, that employment contract, and that embarrassing video from the office holiday party all exist in a series of ones and zeros. The days of photo negatives, stacks of hard copies, and reels of film are mostly over.

But what happens if that digital file gets erased? Hardware failure, a cyberattack, or even plain old user error could wipe out that data in an instant. Whether you’re storing personal memories or professional information, you need to have a plan to safeguard against files loss.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to duplicate and back up your files. Keep your data safe and restore your peace of mind with the 3-2-1 backup rule. The 3-2-1 rule is a standard operating procedure for data backup, ensuring that your data is safe and sound against any conceivable problem.

Here is how it works.

Have three or more copies of your data

You know the classic saying: One is good, two is better, and three is a best practice for data storage. Okay, maybe that’s not some homespun wisdom, but it should be. The first part of the 3-2-1 rule is to make sure you have three or more copies of any important file.

Having one primary copy and two backups will prevent data loss from user error, damage to the storage device, or any localized threats to your information. With a wide variety of storage devices and cloud options, this triple redundancy is simple to achieve.

Your system OS should make the backup process easy, as well. Windows Backup and Mac OS Time Machine are simple, user-friendly programs that will seamlessly transfer your files onto another device. Cloud services such as Dropbox or OneDrive also offer real-time data sync to eliminate unnecessary manual activity.

Keep your data on at least two different devices

This may seem obvious, but you never want to rely on a single device (or media type) for your important data. The reason? Double failure. Storing your data with the same type of media means that all of your backups face identical vulnerability issues. Whether through normal wear and tear or a quirk of manufacturing, that vulnerability is a serious problem for your backup strategy.

Imagine you had your data on two different USB sticks, for example. What if both of those USB sticks had a manufacturing defect that rendered them useless at the same time? All of your data would be wiped out, with no option to recover those files.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for data storage, so choosing an alternate form of media isn’t an issue. For example, if you have your files on your desktop computer, you could also store a backup on a portable SSD or a laptop.

Store at least one copy of your data offsite

So you have your files in two different devices at your home or office. Great. But what happens if there is a threat to your physical location? A robbery, fire, or other natural disaster could render your carefully laid plans moot.

Now comes the “1” of the 3-2-1 plan: storing a copy of your data in a different location. This could be a cloud service or a physical media device in a different state or country. This eliminates the threat of localized data loss.

This is also an ideal solution for less-severe situations, such as having to work remotely because of an office shutdown or accessing files while traveling.

Conclusion

Storing data digitally is fast, simple, and easy. Now, with the 3-2-1 backup rule, you can add a new adjective: secure. Having three copies of your files, on at least two different types of media, in more than one physical location will ensure that your files are safe against data loss.

To learn more about Crucial’s options for backup storage, click here.

Get to Know the Author:

Kris Sharma is a content creator living in Boise, Idaho. He writes frequently on technology topics, including automation, machine learning, and data security. Feel free to hit him up on LinkedIn.

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