How to follow the 3-2-1 backup rule with Veeam Backup & Replication

Every administrator must have a backup. This principle is valid for all virtual environments; regardless of which hypervisor you are using (VMware, Hyper-V or any other).

One of the always valid rules that apply to any failure scenario is called backup rule 3-2-1. This approach helps answer two important questions: how many backup files should I have and where should I store them?

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The 3-2-1 rule has become a popular concept thanks to Peter Krogh, a well-known photographer who wrote that there are two groups of people: those who have had a storage failure and those who will still have one in the future. In other words, the 3-2-1 backup rule means that you must:

  • Have at least three copies of your data
  • Store these copies in two different media
  • Keep a backup copy off the website
3x2x1 veeam backup download

1. Have at least three copies of your data

When I say three copies, I mean that in addition to your primary data, you must have at least two more backups. Why is a backup not enough? Imagine that you keep your original data on the #1 device, and your backup on the #2 device. Both devices have the same characteristics, and their failures are statistically independent (they have no common cause of failure). For example: if the #1 device has a failure probability that is 1/100, - and the same is true for the #2 device -, then the failure probability on both devices at the same time is:

1/100 * 1/100 = 1/10.000

This means that if you have your primary data (on device #1) and two backups of it (on devices #2 and #3) and all devices have the same characteristics and no common cause of failure, the probability of failure on the three devices at the same time will be:

1/100 * 1/100 * 1/100 = 1/1.000.000

That is why having more copies of your data means that you have a lower risk of losing your data in a disaster. In summary, if your data is important to you, be sure to make at least two copies.

note: Another reason to create more than two copies of data is to avoid the situation where the primary copy and its backup are stored in the same location.

2. Store these copies on two different media

In the section above, we assumed that there were no common causes of failure for all devices where you keep your copies. Obviously, this requirement cannot be met if you save your primary data and your backup in the same place. (For example, disks from the same RAID are not statistically independent) Furthermore, it is not uncommon that after the failure of one disk, a second disk from the same storage will fail in a short period of time.

For this reason, the 3-2-1 rule suggests that you keep copies of your data in at least two different types of storage, such as internal disks and removable media (tapes, external disks, USB devices, SD cards, CDs, DVDs or even floppy disks) or two internal disks in different locations.

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3. Keep a backup copy off the website

Physical separation between copies is important. It is not a good idea to keep your external storage device in the same room as your production storage. If a fire occurs (hit the wood), you lose all your data.

If you work for a small or medium-sized business without a remote office or branch, saving your backups in the cloud may be an option. And sending tapes to external locations is still a popular solution for companies of various sizes.

The 3-2-1-0 backup rule

The 3-2-1 rule is very generic and works for all types of data (individual or corporate) and all environments (physical and virtual).

When backing up VMware or Hyper-V environments with Veeam, this rule becomes “rule 3-2-1-0”, Where 0 represents“ 0 errors ”due to the automatic recoverability verification process for each backup performed with Veeam SureBackup.

Veeam Backup & Replication ™ can help you meet the requirements of the 3-2-1 backup rule.

  • Have at least three copies of the data: Configure your Backup Jobs to create multiple backups for each of your VMs VMware or Hyper-V.
  • Store copies on different media types: Veeam is independent of storage; which means it supports tapes, disks, cloud and more. You can store your backups on any of the media listed.
  • Keep an external copy of the backup: set up backup copy tasks to transfer your backup to an external location faster with the integrated WAN acceleration or use the Veeam Cloud Connect to take backups to a service provider's external infrastructure.

You can also download Veeam Backup Community Edition, it has restrictions, but for small environments it can be very useful. Click here to read more.

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Felipe Santos
Felipe Santos is a Cloud and Security Architect, with experience in Windows Server, Cluster, Storages, Backups Veeam and Office 365 environments.



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