Backups, Redundancy and Archiving

Backups, Redundancy and Archiving are strategies that may be employed to ensure data integrity and preserve the viability of a company's operations. For some companies, Backups will be sufficient. For others, all three may be needed.

BillMax offers a backup and three month archival service for BillMax related databases and files. If interested please contact Whether or not BillMax services are utilized, having good backups cannot be emphasized enough.


Backing up "BillMax" consists of making a copy, if needed in compressed form, of the following:
  • On the BillMax Server:
    • The /opt/billmax directory.
    • The /usr/local/billmax directory.
    • The billmax database.
    • The billmax_reports database.
    • Any system files used for emailing, printing, networking, etc.
  • On the BillMax Customer Portal Server, the files used for the customer portal. The location of these files differs depending on the setup of the web server hosting the Customer Portal.

A program such as tar may be used to create a backup of the directories. There are many utilities such as mysqldump and mysqlhotcopy to create database backups. Some customers prefer commercial solutions. Other customers prefer to shutdown the database completely and use tar to backup the database files.

Regardless of what is used to backup BillMax, storage and maintenance of the Backups is critical.
STORE YOUR BACKUPS OFFSITE!!! This cannot be emphasized enough. True story: A customer had the BillMax servers and all company paperwork in one location. The location burned to the ground. The business never recovered.
IF POSSIBLE, STORE YOUR BACKUPS IN A DIFFERENT GEOGRAPHIC REGION!!!. True story: A company had facilities in both Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. The Fort Worth site was hit by a tornado, the Dallas site was flooded, all from the same storm front.
DO NOT RELY ON RAID!!! There have been several instances where multiple disks and even multiple power supplies in a RAID array have failed simultaneously. Whereas RAID has its place, it is not a substitute for Backups.

It is strongly recommended that recovering from a backup be tested periodically to make sure backups are being done correctly.


Redundancy may be used when waiting for a backup to be restored is not desirable. Redundancy consists of having a server that has a duplicate copy of the software and a duplicate version of the database. Database replication may be of use in this scenario.
DATABASE REPLICATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUE FOR BACKUPS!!! True story: A BillMax customer relied on replication rather than backups. When an administrator issued an improper DELETE command on the production database, the replication database was also affected. Without backups the data was lost.


Archiving backups is useful if there is a need to revisit database status and activity from the past. True story: A company had a disgruntled ex-employee that managed to still have access to BillMax. Rather than cause a catastrophic failure this employee would periodically delete accounts from BillMax. When discovered, the company was able to analyze 6 months of data and logs to rebuild the deleted accounts and collect evidence of the malfeasance. In this case Backups and Redundancy were insufficient.