Adding a 0 to the 3-2-1 Rule

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When it comes to disaster hitting your environment, it’s not a matter of if, but when. We all like to think that we are prepared and practice is always important but when an outage does occur, having a playbook ready will help you not only recover faster but will help to turn the chaos into a little bit of sanity.

Over the years, the 3-2-1 rule has become a bit of a guiding light for the industry as it helps to create a foundation for solid backup and recovery. If you aren’t familiar with the rule, let me break it down for you.

The first digit, three, means that you should be keeping at least three copies of your data. This may sound excessive but when it comes to a disaster, they can range from a simple switch failure to an entire loss of a data center; the more copies you have of your data, the better off you will be when it comes to a recovery scenario.

The second digit, two, means that of your three copies of your data, you need to store them on two different mediums. This is self-explanatory, if you keep your data on tapes, make sure you have another copy stored on internal disks; simply put, don’t solely depend on having tapes as your only means of backup.

And the last digit,1, means that you need to store one of your copies of your data offsite. With the explosive growth in cloud-storage services, every company can easily have an off-site replication of their data. Many years ago, it was common for an employee to take a copy of the data home with them to store it in a safe but with cloud storage becoming quite cheap and easily accessible, there is no need to expose your data in this fashion.

But it’s time to think more critically about your data and how you store it. This is where the zero comes into play.

To have backups of your data available is one thing but you need to be able to recover it with zero errors. If your tapes are ruined or your hard drives are damaged, those backups are not going to help you.

Practice makes perfect and you need to make sure that all that data you have stored can easily be recovered without any errors in its continuity. If your data is corrupted, you might as well not have any data at all.

The best way to know if you can recover without any errors is to practice, practice, practice. The better you are prepared, the better your results will be as you don’t get to pick the time and place a disaster occurs but you did get to chose how and where you can recover your content.

Even with the 3-2-1-0 rule, there is far more you should consider when preparing for a disaster including who to contact first, how to notify customers, and locations for emergency off-site meetings as well.

No one has ever said that they are over-prepared for a disaster to happen, only that they wished that they had more practice to deal with the chaos that erupts when data is no longer available.