The 3–2–1 Backup Rule

Chris Kankiewicz
Jul 13, 2011 · 2 min read
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Too many people today don’t backup their files. And of those that do, many don’t do it well. An easy way to remember a “safe” way to backup your data is with the “3–2–1 Backup Rule” which goes like this:

  • Keep 3 copies of any important files (your primary/working copy counts as one)
  • Store your files on 2 different media types (Example: Hard drive and in the Cloud)
  • Always have 1 copy off site

With the 3–2–1 rule you can be relatively confident that you’ll always be able to access your critical data, even after a catastrophic failure.

Another rule I live by when it comes to backup is:

The only good backup is an automatic backup.

If you’re backups aren’t automated, there’s a good chance you’ll forget to run them or (in my case) just be lazy about it and think, “I’ll back it up tomorrow.” at which point a failure occurs and you’re shit out of luck.

For those of you without a backup plan in place, I’d like to recommend a service I use, CrashPlan. CrashPlan allows you to backup to any of your own computers that also have CrashPlan installed for free. You can also backup to local folders and external drives and (with a little hacking) network drives as well. For a (reasonable) price, CrashPlan also supports limited and unlimited online backup plans. Clients are available for Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems, so it should work for any system you currently own. For more info and to download CrashPlan go to

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