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Why and how to use the 3-2-1 strategy for data back-ups

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Have you ever lost a digital file worth hours of work because of a program crashing or something going wrong with your computer? Or been a victim of ransomware, where hackers block access to your programs or files in exchange for money? You can avoid that sinking feeling – and the risk of hours or even days of downtime – by keeping regular back-ups of your digital data.

Backing up data on mobile and laptop devices

‘Digital data’ is any information that’s collected or stored in digital form. For businesses, this can include customer data (like email addresses), employee data (like payroll and salary information) and critical business data (like sales figures and intellectual property).

Regular data back-ups are essential to help your business recover its digital data in the event of an online attack, system failure, broken or lost devices, or even accidental deletions. When your essential business data is securely backed up, ransomware becomes less effective for cyber criminals, you’re likely to maintain your reputation and customer trust, and it’s easier for your business to get back up and running if something goes wrong.

The 3-2-1 strategy is a simple data loss prevention method for backing up your critical business information. Here, we’ll look at what the strategy involves and how to put it into practice.

The 3-2-1 strategy explained

The 3-2-1 strategy suggests you should save at least three copies of your data, two of which are on-site on different devices and one that is off-site or on the cloud.

Having your data stored on more than one device will help keep it safe in case one of those devices is lost, stolen or damaged. For example, you could save your files on a laptop, then back them up on a hard drive.

And with additional cloud back-up, not only will your information be better protected, it can also be accessed in more places by authorised users (like when your team is working remotely).

Implementing the 3-2-1 strategy

The first step to keeping your data safe and accessible is understanding how, where and how often it’s backed up.

How: Make data back-ups part of your regular process, so that they become second nature and aren’t viewed as an extra task. After all, the few minutes of backing up your data is far less time than the potential hours or days you would lose if your information was compromised.

Where: Select the devices that you’ll save your data to and make sure the process is simple – like saving it directly to your computer, then connecting that device to a hard drive to save a second copy. And if you don’t already have one, a hard drive (and its accessories, like connection cords) can be easily purchased from most technology retailers. When it comes to cloud storage, there are plenty of solutions in the market – it’s just a matter of choosing which cloud model is right for your business.

How often: Try setting and sticking to a schedule for how frequently you and your team back up critical business data. Regular back-ups should happen daily or every couple of days – because if your back-ups are infrequent or aren’t happening at all, you could lose access to the information you need to operate, potentially putting your business continuity at risk.

When you’ve backed up your business data, it’s also important to keep your devices and data safe with cyber security measures, like strong password protection, multi-factor authentication and relevant software or programs. The Telstra Business Intelligence report on Managing Risks Online can help you better understand potential cyber threats and how to stay protected.

Next steps

Help keep your data safe and secure. Complete the checklist below to get your business on the way to mastering the 3-2-1 strategy.

  • Understand what types of digital data your business collects.
  • Make data back-ups part of your routine instead of viewing it as an extra task.
  • Select the devices that you’ll back up your data to.
  • Set up a cloud solution or off-site back-up.
  • Back up your data regularly and consistently (daily or every couple of days).
  • Keep your devices and digital storage solutions protected with comprehensive cyber security measures.
Need help protecting your business online?

Telstra Business Cyber Security Services offers 24/7 support and more.

Find out moreNeed help protecting your business online?

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