What would happen if the computer you were working on somehow lost all of the data stored on it? Would that be an absolute disaster for you professionally or even personally? This is why it’s absolutely crucial to back up your data, because as much as it would sting on a personal level, losing such vital records on a professional level could have even more devastating consequences. Backing up your data, while somewhat time consuming, has really never been easier thanks to the 3-2-1 Rule. It suggests that if you’re backing up data you should have:
- At least 3 copies of data
- In 2 different formats,
- 1 of which is stored off-site.
Easy right?! Repeat with me: Three copies of data, in two different formats, one of which is stored off-site. Following this rule pretty much ensures at least one copy of your data survives if something catastrophic happens. So, let’s dive in a little deeper to each rule.
First: Three copies of data (at least).
This means you should have three copies of your data in three different places. This could include your computer itself, a separate hard drive, and the cloud. Keeping the information on different sites greatly decreases the chances of one event (like a fire) destroying more than one data copy.
Second: Two different formats.
This means you should use two different methods to store your data. You’ll most likely be saving one copy of your data on your computer itself, but perhaps, burn another copy of your data onto a writeable disc like a DVD or a CD. Doing this not only satisfies this rule, but the first one as well!
Third: One off-site copy.
Storing your data somewhere other than where your data is, again, ensures you’ve got one safe copy elsewhere in the event of a break-in, fire, or other natural disaster. If lost, bricks and mortar can be replaced, crucial data files cannot. You can store data in the cloud, but it can be tricky to explain exactly how that works because there are so many options to choose from. Essentially, the cloud is data hosting through a third-party. Information stored on the cloud is accessible in several different ways via the Internet. The amount of data you store determines how much you’ll pay to utilize cloud services. You should consult with your IT administrator for more specific information to help determine which cloud offering is best for you.
Data backup should be a part of your routine software maintenance. How often you back up your data though is dependent on how you answer this question: “How long can I be without this data?” If that data is critical in maintaining business operations, you probably want to consider backing it up continually in a replication-type scenario where it constantly syncs to another system. This also helps you determine how many copies of data you should keep. You can also consider daily backup, or something less frequent, again, it all depends on how critical that data is to you or your business. Regardless, if you have information on a computer and you don’t want to lose it, back it up. Remember, it’s as easy as 3-2-1.