Always Up and Running: The Essential 3-2-1 Backup Plan

A backup plan minimizes downtime and ensures critical data can be recovered quickly.  Most importantly, a professional backup plan keeps your business up and running despite external or internal disruptions.

Backup and disaster recovery are essential elements of business and critical pieces of information management. Availability of information can directly impact revenues and profits, as well as an organization’s reputation.

Copeland Technology Solutions managed IT services take over the responsibility of monitoring and managing your backup and disaster recovery infrastructure. We give you increased reliability, reduced risk and more time to focus on your strategic business initiatives.

Backup Plans for Critical Digital Assets

If the essential digital assets that keep your operation running go down, the backup has to be ready at a moment’s notice and will be expected to perform seamlessly with the rest of the system.

Without a backup plan in place and a seamless transition, business can suffer significant losses.

In the IT world, a 3-2-1 Data Protection Plan should be implemented to mitigate these risks.  Here’s how it works:

  • 3: have three copies of your data
  • 2: ensure these copies are on two different media types/devices
  • 1: make sure at least one of these backup sets is located offsite

Two onsite backups will help get the system up and running quickly – although having two copies in nearby locations can result in both backups being lost in cases of water damage, fire, theft, and other physical interruptions.

So while creating onsite backups is important, having an offsite backup is essential to having a complete backup strategy.

Establishing a 3-2-1 data protection plan should be at the heart of any strategic processes if a business relies on IT systems to operate efficiently.

Drawing the X’s and O’s – Developing a Complete Backup IT Solution


We’ve seen organizations benefit from having a comprehensive strategy that analyzes how business results are tied to individual applications – this will dictate how the data is backed-up, the priority of restoring applications, and what software, hardware, and services best suit the data recovery plan.

The Identify → Discuss → Solve framework is designed to help operations managers effectively address the key components of getting their systems running again.

  1. Identify
    • Go to the whiteboard and identify your Return To Operations Requirements by making a list of all applications that will need to be restored in order to get the operation fully functional, like
      • Email
      • ERP Systems
      • Microsoft Office Documents
      • VOIP
  2. Discuss
    • Go through each of these applications and determine what business results are tied to each
    • Address how the scope and length of downtime will affect each business result
    • Identify the maximum time that each application can be allowed to be offline before the corresponding business results are affected
    • Each application should have a sentence like the following to summarize the Discussion aspect of your backup strategy strategy.
      • “[Application] must be back online within [##] hours before the [list of business results] will be affected.
  3. Solve
    • Based on the Return to Operation requirements set in phases 1 and 2, your team will determine which solution(s) will best fit your organization
      1. Backup – a snapshot of your data from a given time in the past
        • Best for: restoring from virtual server crashes, restoring individual files, crashes from windows updates
      2. Replication – a server online is ready-to-go with updates done hourly, either on-site or off-site
        • Best for: high-risk application with low RTO (8 hour or less RTO)
      3. Hybrid – a combination of the two
        • Best for: variable RTO based on the backup needs (entire building going down vs. server stack going down)

The Playbook – Finalizing and Documenting Your Backup Strategy

Once we go through the Identify → Discuss → Solve process to determine the optimal backup solution, now it’s time to finalize, document and implement your backup strategy.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a documented playbook that identifies all the possible interruptions of business and the necessary steps to return to operations.

This playbook will detail important items like contact information, action steps (e.g. pulling plugs, turning on backup equipment, etc.)

Your IT System is Only as Strong as Your Backup Plan

It’s true: your system really is only as strong as your backup – so be sure you are prepared when the next unexpected event happens.

  • Backup your data using the 3-2-1 method, and make sure you’ve stored data backups offsite.
  • Formulate a strategy – a detailed, top-to-bottom plan for responding to a data disaster.
  • Establish processes to get your critical systems back up and running, and work on your priority list to get the system back to 100%.
  • Get the hardware, software, and services in place (and test them) well before you need them.
  • Keep your backup strategy in mind, and address your process to ensure that it remains in sync with your operation as it changes and grows.

You’ll never know when you need your backup – make sure it’s just as good as your Plan A.

Get in touch and let’s put together a backup strategy for your team.

Posted on January 25, 2018. Categorized as . Tagged as , .

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