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Technical Insight: 3-2-1 In the Age of Ransomware

The data protection or backup strategy of 3-2-1 has served the IT industry well and is still the most practiced method for backing up primary data. It is important for IT executives responsible for their valuable data assets to revisit the data protection strategy, especially in light of the continued and increasing ransomware attacks. New strategies that encompass changes including increased use of data protection using public clouds and additional backup software features must be examined to provide the most effective data protection strategy given the current environment.

To recap, the 3-2-1 data protection method means:

  • 3 – there are three backups made of primary data
  • 2 – two of the copies are on different device types
  • 1 – one copy is offsite

The remote location was generally thought of as offsite tape storage when tape was the predominate target for backup data. Now the remote location could be a public cloud or an object storage system at another site where the data is immutable with retention controls to avoid deletion of what is now termed the “retained backup copy.”

The local copies, stored on two different device types, are generally implemented as different storage systems such that a problem with one type (hardware, software, etc. error) does not exist on the second type, allowing for rapid recovery of data. There are many variations of data protection but the discussion generally starts with the 3-2-1 method. Note that protection of inactive data by self- protecting storage systems are not included as part the 3-2-1 protection method other than as targets in the local or remote copies.

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Related to this document:
Data Protection Software – Evaluation Guide, Technical Insight: Hybrid Cloud Data Protection Benefits, Data Protection Systems – Comparison Matrix

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May 14, 2020

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