3-2-1 backupToo many of us will have to deal with data loss at some point or other. Maybe it will be due to system failure, maybe malware, maybe simple human error. In any case, the 3-2-1 backup for files strategy can provide some peace of mind.

Okay. What is it?

The 3-2-1 backup strategy means having three copies of your data. Two are local but on different kinds of devices, while one is offsite, completely separate. We’ll use this Microsoft Word document I’m typing in right now as an example. Backups.doc is my first copy. My second copy is an external hard drive. I back up my information daily before locking the drive up in a desk drawer. But my third copy shouldn’t be a USB drive that I toss into the same drawer. My third copy needs to be a remote storage solution off my network. A few examples are Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and EFolder. All of these File level backups provide a feature called versioning. Version allows you to keep multiple copies of the same file without renaming. My favorite backups.doc file may have multiple versions that I can restore. Each of them slightly different based on when I saved it.

Okay. Why?

Let’s say I get infected while my external hard drive is plugged in. There’s a good possibility the drive will be affected as well. Or maybe I unplug my drive and – just this once – don’t immediately toss it into the drawer. Instead I leave it by my keyboard, and when I spill coffee all over my computer, I fry the drive as well. The same principle applies to fire, flood and theft: If something goes wrong with one device, the same thing is likely to go wrong with the other. An off-site storage solution may seem like an unnecessary, expensive complication now, but when your hard drive crashes and takes all company tax records for the last five years down with it, you’ll wish you could wrap your arms around it and squeeze.

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