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Backup Strategy

Watch: What’s the Right Backup Architecture for You to Achieve 3-2-1 Strategy?

Backup strategies have changed. For years, backup meant keeping a secondary copy running in the data center, with a tape-based backup shipped offsite to be used as a last resort. But the cloud is making that backup strategy model obsolete.

In this short video with NetApp Cloud Solution Architecture Manager, Aviv Degani, we’ll look at some of the ways that the 3-2-1 backup strategy is being approached by enterprises using new technologies such as object storage, block-level backups, and the backup-as-a-service offerings that are being made possible by the cloud.

Practical Approaches to the 3-2-1 Strategy

In the video you’ll see four different use cases that make the 3-2-1 strategy possible:

  • Hybrid with one on-prem AFF/FAS, one Cloud Volumes ONTAP DR copy, and Cloud Backup to cloud-based object storage
  • Hybrid with one AFF/FAS primary, one AFF/FAS DR copy, and Cloud Backup to cloud-based object storage
  • All cloud with the primary and a remote DR copy both on Cloud Volumes ONTAP and Cloud Backup cloud-based object storage.
  • Private cloud deployment with two on-prem AFF/FAS systems and Cloud Backup leveraging NetApp StorageGRID with the software-only option (which requires no internet connectivity).

For more on what 3-2-1 is and the other backup strategies, read on below.

There’s More Than One Way to Backup

The video discusses different methods to achieve the 3-2-1 strategy. But that is just one option for your backup strategy. Finding the one that is right for your company requires considering the options to see which one makes the most sense for your business objectives.

There are three commonly used backup strategies: 3-1-2, 3-2-1 (which was discussed in the video), and 3-2-2. In each of these cases, Cloud Backup is ideal for storing the third, offsite copy of the data.


The three common backup strategies. 3-2-1 is the most common and recommended.


The 3-1-2 backup strategy will have three (3) copies of the data: one (1) production copy of data in a local media , usually disks, with two  (2) offsite copies of data. These can be two geographically separated copies of data in the cloud. Though this backup strategy ensures two offsite data copies, the backup on the local media will remain a single point of failure with no redundancy locally. It is not recommended when you have a higher RPO and RTO.


As per 3-2-1 strategy there should be three (3) copies of the data, with two (2) copies stored on different storage formats, and one (1) copy stored offsite. This strategy helps in quick retrieval of data from the storage devices (data remains available even if one copy is corrupted). It also protects data from disasters that could affect geography, as data can be retrieved from the offsite copy. In the context of cloud-based backup solutions, object-based archival cloud storage tiers are perfect for the third data copy that should be stored offsite.

The 3-2-1 strategy is the de facto choice for data protection among enterprises. Partly, this is due to the recommendation of the US Department of Homeland Security. Also, for its level of protection, the 3-2-1 strategy gives users the most value for its costs when compared to the 3-1-2 and 3-2-2 strategies.


The 3-2-2 backup strategy builds on top of the 3-2-1 strategy by keeping an extra, often air-gapped copy of data, in an offsite location. This backup strategy is used to provide enhanced data protection. 3-2-2 can be relevant for specific regulatory needs or other "special cases." The air-gapped copy of the data remains inaccessible from the main data networks, thereby eliminating possibilities of malware infection and data corruption. This backup strategy is recommended in environments that are vulnerable to attacks and need high levels of data protection.

There are several key architectural considerations while choosing a backup strategy. This can be relevant, for example, if you have regulatory requirements to keep single/multiple copies of backup locally in a secondary storage. Also consider the requirements of using independent storage buckets in the cloud for different data sets for enhanced security. In the 3-2-2 backup strategy that uses air-gapped tertiary storage, cloud archival tiers can be used by implementing additional control and data plane access restrictions to segregate the air-gapped data copy stored in the cloud.

As discussed in the video, Cloud Backup can create this segregated, air-gapped copy by leveraging the software-only option and StorageGRID appliances.

Backup Strategy Protection Levels




● Three copies total

● Format agnostic

● No local redundancy

● Lower cost

● Three copies total

● Varied storage formats

● Faster retrieval

● Best value for cost

● Four copies total

● extra air-gapped tertiary copy

● Malware protection

● Higher cost

Least protection

Recommended protection  

  Additional protection

See More in the Full Backup Trends Guidebook

Now that you’ve watched the video, if you want to find out more about the differences between the 3-1-2, 3-2-1, and 3-2-2 backup strategies, as well as all the changes that have come to the backup market, download our free guidebook to 2022’s backup technology trends. 

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Semion Mazor, Product Evangelist

Product Evangelist