IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

3-2-1 Works for Backup, But It’s Not Enough: Page 2 of 2

Storing multiple copies of backups is a great start, but no longer sufficient to keep your clients protected. By Eric Harless

Now with the people out of the equation, let’s tackle the last line of defense—the technical side, also known as the data backup and recovery solution.

The good news is that creating a comprehensive backup and recovery strategy is easier than it was a decade ago. First, the 3-2-1 backup rule still applies. This catchy phrase means you should:

  • Keep three separate copies of your data (one of which you can use as your production copy)
  • Store them on at least two different types of media (e.g., cloud, disk, NAS, tape, etc.)
  • Store at least one of the three copies offsite, away from your production center

You must also test your backups regularly to ensure you can recover a compromised data set in an adequate timeframe (i.e., recovery time objective) and with an acceptable level of loss (i.e., recovery point objective). This part used to be a massive pain with image-based backups and bare metal restores. You had to build another server using identical hardware components and drivers before starting the time-consuming restore process. In the modern era of virtual machines, you can reduce an ~8-hour recovery window to less than 15 minutes with a good solution—check out my sidebar below for more tips on what to look for in a good backup and disaster recovery solution—which makes it much more feasible to include this step in your backup and recovery protocol.

Closing Thoughts

The cloud has made a lot of IT processes easier for users and MSPs alike. However, MSPs must ensure their customers aren’t making incorrect assumptions about their cloud products—especially when it comes to privacy, protection, and data backups. Even if a data set is recoverable by Microsoft, for instance, will their timescales be acceptable? Customers should consider what downtime will cost them and, with their MSPs help, make sure their backup and recovery plans align with their business continuity needs.

Officially named as head backup nerd for SolarWinds MSP, Eric Harless has over 25 years of data protection experience and has held senior-level product management, marketing, system engineering, sales, and customer support roles with several data protection and disaster recovery vendors, including SolarWinds, FalconStor Software, Symantec, CA Technologies, CommVault Systems, Yosemite Technologies, and Veritas Software.

Must-Have BDR Features

It’s estimated that in 2021 a ransomware attack will affect a business every 11 seconds. Cybercriminals know that companies with good backup solutions can roll back their systems to a pre-infected state and get back to work without paying the ransom. And that’s why many of these bad actors are taking a long-game approach that entails attacking backup files so when they unleash their ransomware, the recovery files don’t work.

To stay a step ahead of these attacks and others, it’s imperative to select a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution where you can control/restrict changes to backup client settings through:

  • Lockable selections and schedules set by profiles
  • Remote access in the local backup GUI
  • Assignable GUI passwords to restrict all GUI access

It’s also essential to ensure your BDR solution supports the following data protection standards and best practices:

  • AES-256 encryption and TLS 1.2 or higher communication tunnels
  • Data encryption in motion and at rest
  • System-managed and private encryption keys
  • Increased backup frequency (daily to hourly)
  • Use archiving for extended retention
  • Secure NAS attached local recovery caches/LocalSpeedVaults
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