3 – 2 – 1 Business Backup Plan: Data Loss Protection

Protecting your company’s data is critical

Most of us have experienced the frustration of losing hours, days, and even months’ worth of work from an accidental keystroke, an unexpected power failure, or a lost or stolen laptop. When this happens at the organizational level, you can expect individual frustration and a costly loss of productivity. Data loss results in costly production and productivity loss, which could mean missed deadlines, unsatisfied customers or clients, and decreased profit margins.

The underlying importance of a 3-2-1 data backup plan

While humankind will never tame all of the natural disasters, snare every hacker, or create a laptop that cannot be lost, what we can do is have a plan. A 3-2-1 data backup strategy provides complete data loss protection from threats that can drastically affect a business’s bottom line.

What are the biggest data-loss threats to a business?

The first step, as the saying goes, is to know thy enemy. And in the case of data protection, that means understanding your most likely causes of data loss. For most businesses, they fall into three categories: ransomware, user error, and natural disasters.


Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) that hijacks your data and holds it hostage until you pay a fee to the perpetrators. Many businesses think they don’t have anything of value for a cybercriminal so they don’t put time or resources toward protecting themselves. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, can always something of value in any business

Where a data backup strategy matters:

Regardless of the reason they were targeted, a business locked out of its data may not even have the opportunity to pay a ransom as the hacker has moved on. The damage is done. Therefore, having secure backups of important data gives the power back to business owners!

User Accident or Error

Whether a user accidentally deletes something important, their hardware gives up the ghost, or a laptop gets left on the subway, data loss can have serious productivity and brand impacts to a business. Trying to recreate that nearly-finished slide deck or customer project is both frustrating and gets in the way of new work being completed. And explaining to customers why their important IP was lost can seriously damage reputations and trust. 

Where a data backup strategy matters:

While we can’t always protect users from these unfortunate occurrences, a backup of user data can minimize the amount of work lost.

Natural disasters

According to FEMA, around 25% of businesses close their doors after a natural disaster. While desks and chairs can be readily replaced, loss of important data like customer lists, financial information, product roadmaps, and intellectual property is much harder to recover from. Many businesses keep their backups on external drives or an on-premise server. Unfortunately, this lack of geographical redundancy leaves both the original data and the on-site backups vulnerable to any location-based disaster, whether due to weather or theft.

Where a data backup strategy matters:

With a 3-2-1 data backup strategy, you have 3 copies of data, backed up to physical and cloud locations to ensure you always have valuable data storage to pull from!

What is a 3-2-1 backup strategy

A 3-2-1 backup model is a layered data-loss protection solution that ensures a company’s data (from client files to HR, payroll and anything else) has multiple copies and is stored at multiple locations so there is always access to data in the event of an unforeseen situation. So if you’re wondering how many backups should you have for peace of mind over your important files — a 3-2-1 backup strategy is your answer. This method requires both internal employee support and a strategic backup plan with quality technology. 

How the 3-2-1 backup system approach works:

Protecting your data requires a multi-pronged approach, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Use the 3-2-1 Backup Rule as your simple yet powerful strategy to ensure your data is protected — even set your backup to automatically save files in the 3-2-1 method so you don’t have to worry about it. The basic idea is that organizations make 3 copies of the data, they store these copies on 2 different types of storage media, and send 1 copy of the data to an offsite location, different geographical region (typically in the cloud). This layered backup architecture allows organizations to significantly mitigate the risk of lost or unavailable data. This system setup generally includes:

  • A network drive folder (usually on an on-premise server): Organizational policy requires users to put their data into a network folder to get automatically backed up, often to an on-premise server.
    • This is easy to use, and automated, but not a stand-alone solution as it requires access to the network – usually via VPN. And often, users forget to (or just don’t) put their documents into the correct folder. In addition, onsite network drives are subject to the same location-based risks – theft, natural disasters, leaky water pipes, etc. – as the endpoints, they are protecting.
  • External drive (often attached to the endpoints or servers): Is a quick and easy solution that offers ready access to your data and can often be automated. Not a stand-alone backup plan, though, because it requires monitoring to ensure the drives aren’t running out of storage and the drives are still subject to the same user behavior and location-based risks as the network drive. 
  • Cloud-based backup: An automated solution to keep a copy of end-user data in the cloud which can help protect against cybercrimes, human error, and provide critical geographic redundancy.
    • Automatic cloud backups happen continuously in the background and require no user action, which means that data loss can be limited to whenever the last backup was. Because restoring data requires downloading files from the cloud, you must have access to the internet in order to access them.

The 3-2-1 backup method is your solution for total security:

While the 3-2-1 methodology does not guarantee that all data will be immune to loss, it eliminates a lot of the risk by eliminating any single point of failure for data protection. Your data is protected even if a copy of the data becomes corrupted, if a storage system fails, or if a natural disaster or security attack occurs.

How your employees affect your 3-2-1 data backup strategy:

Forgetfulness and just plain human error make employees a primary source of, often unintentional, data loss. To address this, keep data protection top of mind, through frequent employee training on things like good password practices and ransomware awareness

Also, be sure to create organizational data backup policies — and communicate these policies frequently — help ensure you are protecting all of your business-critical data and documenting who has access to it.

Finally, involve key members of your staff — not just IT — in creating a disaster recovery plan. This will ensure that critical data has been identified, clear owners have been named for understanding and maintaining each part of the plan, and supports tabletop exercises that allow the team to practice their disaster response and identify gaps in the plan.

Make the Commitment to Protecting Your Business

Because nothing is static in terms of business needs or technology developments, once the 3-2-1 backup strategy is implemented, you should ensure that you have an ongoing process — and a clear owner — for maintaining it.

Choose a data backup plan you won’t have to worry about

Let’s face it, any company that does not have a solid data backup strategy in place is asking for trouble. Every business, regardless of size, needs to have plans in place to back up their data in case of some unforeseen event that impacts the availability of critical information. 

Let our team help you implement a data backup plan you can rely on to work in the background while you stay focused on running your business. Learn more about CrashPlan features and pricing to get started!

Sign up for our newsletter to receive more guides, tips and best practices

By completing and submitting this form, you confirm that you agree to the storing and processing of your personal data by Code42 as described in our Privacy Statement.