How to Use the Golden Backup Rule | 3-2-1

The golden backup 3-2-1 rule is an efficient backup strategy that ensures the integrity of data copies. In this article, we will discuss the 3-2-1 backup rule and how to use it properly.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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What is 3-2-1 backup rule

3-2-1 backup rule recommends that you should store copies of important data on different locations, which is an easy and efficient method for data protection. The detailed introduction is as following.

3: Keep 3 copies at least (one primary backup and two copies) to ensure that you can recover the data from any accidents.
2: Save backups to two different storage devices or locations.
1: Keep at least one backup copy in a different location.

For businesses, data security is as same as life. Data loss leads to huge financial loss to your business due to hard drive failure, natural disasters, threats of malware, human error, theft, etc. 3-2-1 backup strategy allows you to perform instant disaster recovery and ensures the safety of your critical data and the continuity of business. It is an efficient backup strategy for virtual machine backup.

3-2-1 backup rule

How to backup Windows with 3-2-1 backup rule

Backup and Restore in Windows is a convenient feature to create file and folder backups, as well as system images backups. This part will explain how to backup Windows following the 3-2-1 rule.

Tips: The Backup and Restore utility is included with Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions of Windows 7, and is also available for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

1. Click Start >> Control Panel >> Backup and Restore.

2. Select Set up backup, then follow the steps in the wizard.

Windows Backup and Restore


3. Select a destination to store the backup files such as network, external hard drive or local. It’s recommended to store copies to different devices for better data protection.

select loaction

Tips: You can also schedule Windows backups using File History.

How to perform 3-2-1 backup rule for free

Besides Windows backups, 3-2-1 backup rule also can be used in virtual machine backup situations. Here, I will use a free VM backup software to show the process.

AOMEI Cyber Backup is a professional virtual machine backup appliance that provides you with the best VM backup practices. You can create secure VM backups with 3-2-1 backup rule. The professional tool can centrally back up multiple virtual machines to different places such as local folder, external hard drives or network locations, and schedule virtual machine backup, monitors the status and sends email notifications if there's an error.

If your original virtual machine fails, you can achieve disaster recovery from any selected backup, and it restores the virtual machine to its previous state with a few clicks, which greatly reduces business downtime and financial losses. With AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition, you can enjoy the following advantages forever.

Secure VM backup: schedule VMware or Hyper-V virtual machine backups and perform hot backup to protect crucial data continuously without human errors.
Instant disaster recovery: instantly restore the entire virtual machine to its previous status without complicated reinstallation and configuration.
3-2-1 VM backup: backup multiple virtual machines to different locations easily via the central console.
Email Notification: send email notification when the task is completed or abnormal.
Easy-to-use: offer intuitive interface to back up and restore virtual machines, and the whole process is based on clicks.
Support free ESXi: AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup for free:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Best practice of 3-2-1 backup strategy using Free AOMEI Cyber Backup

1. Download AOMEI Cyber Backup and add your host such as Hyper-VvCenter or Standalone ESXi host.

add VMware ESXi device

2. Click Backup Task >> Create New Task with 3-2-1 rule of backups.

create VM backup with 3-2-1 backup rule

Device: Select one or more virtual machines for backup.

select VM for backup

Target: Select local or network location to store the copy of virtual machine. You can backup VMs to NAS easily or use an available external hard drive to store VM, which allows you to restore VM data securely and reduces the risk of data loss. AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition safeguards your data security with 3-2-1 backup rule forever.

backup VM to NAS

Schedule: set up an automated backup plan with flexible backup strategies to resiliently track the VM data.

schedule virtual machine backup

● Review all the information and click Start Backup.

3. Click Restore >> Restore to original location to perform VM disaster recovery. It can restore the VM to its previous status from any point and is convenient to restore the entire virtual machine without reinstalling or configuring any applications.

✍ While the Free Edition covers most of the VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
✦ Batch VM Backup: Batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or standalone ESXi hosts.
✦ Backup Cleanup: Configure retention policy to auto delete the old backup files and save storage space.
✦ Restore to new location: Easily make a clone of a virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host, without reinstalling or configuring a new VM.

Restore to new location

AOMEI Cyber Backup offers free VM backup solution, and it will protect your virtual machine with 3-2-1 backup rule forever.


The investment in building a backup system is much smaller than building a disaster recovery system, since the backup system costs several million, and the general disaster recovery system needs at least ten million. Therefore, backup systems for enterprises are especially important. 3-2-1 backup rule offers a data insurance and allows you to recover your data quickly when an accident occurs.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.