The Data Storage Rule of Three

If you really want to keep your data safe and ensure that it will not be lost, destroyed, or corrupted in the event of a disaster, most storage practitioners advise keeping it in at least three locations.

A single location gives you virtually no protection against disaster. Two locations might be enough, as long as one is offsite – but even then you risk data loss if both locations fail at the same time. For example, imagine a virus corrupts your server and wipes out your CRM database. You go to a tape backup to repopulate the database, only to discover that the backup is worn out or corrupted. Or, as we’ve read about numerous times in the news, your tape backup gets stolen out of your home, car, or wherever you’re storing it.

 

That’s why you really need three separate locations for your data, with at least one of them offsite. While all three locations or media could theoretically fail at the same time, the chances of that happening are minimal.

 

So why must one location be off site? To avoid a tragedy like the following one happening to your business. (We’re not naming names here because this isn’t a story about a client – but it did happen to somebody we know. We wish they had been clients, because we could have made certain this didn’t happen!)

 

A long-established company had years’ worth of data to store, including a CRM system and detailed records on past projects. They knew it was important to be well covered when it came to backups, and their technician assured them the data was stored in three places.

 

Then disaster struck – not through any fault of the company. A fire broke out in a neighboring office, and before long the whole building was engulfed in flames. Every server, every computer, and every other piece of electronic equipment in the building was trashed.

 

You might think the company would be fine – after all, they had redundant storage, and surely one of their storage devices was offsite, right? Wrong. The data was indeed in three places: on the server, on a drive next to the server, and on another drive in the next room.

 

This story illustrates precisely why it isn’t enough to keep multiple copies of your data. One or more of those copies must be stored offsite – preferably in a geographic location that’s not prone to flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes. (That’s why many high-security data centers are located in the desert: they’re far from major metropolitan areas that are more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and power outages, and they also tend to suffer from fewer natural disasters.)

 

So the next time you talk to your IT provider, you might ask them two things:

 

  1. How many copies of our data are we keeping?
  2. Where are those copies being kept?

 

Once you have those answers, you’ll know a lot about how well equipped your business really is to weather disaster.

 

CMIT Guardian, our backup and disaster recovery service, automatically stores data in highly secured data centers with round-the-clock monitoring and security, advanced fire detection and suppression systems, seismic safeguards, and diesel generators for continuous and reliable protection. To find out more about CMIT Guardian, click here.

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