Team BlogVault at Triund.

The Summer of 2016 saw temperatures in Bengaluru reach record highs and at BlogVault, we were feeling the heat. We needed something to break the monotony of work while finding a way to deal with the sweltering heat… and in all of this, deadlines had to be met. This is when we came up with the perfect solution: a work-week away from Bengaluru! After a few searches on the Internet, we settled on McLeod Ganj (MG). It turned out to be a great destination for work and play despite our doubts.

We wanted to ensure that our trip would be exciting for us while not falling back on work. We had many questions during the planning of this trip- accommodation, Internet, food, clothing, weather, timings, things-to-do, and importantly budget.

If we were going to pull this off, then we needed a reliable Internet connection. Ideally we wanted a destination where we could work from different coffee shops when preferred, but we also needed a base.

For this a simple Google search did not yield results. A search on Airbnb landed us with a handful of options which offered Internet connectivity. Some were close to Dharamsala (half an hour drive from MG) and others were closer to McLeod Ganj.

We knew from prior experience in cities as well as small towns across India that Internet connections are not always reliable. We were always apprehensive about this and frankly, we were heading in blind. Luckily for us though this problem would be solved and the rest of our trip worked out too.

This is how we cracked the planning of the trip. At times when it didn’t work out, we were pleasantly surprised; as you are on all memorable trips.

 

Bangalore to McLeod Ganj

Duration: 1 Week

Time of the year: 2 May 2016 – 9 May 2016

Team Size: 5

Our recommendations:

Internet: AirJaldi

Eateries: Clay Oven (MG- We loved the place, can’t recommend it enough)

Tibet Kitchen (MG)

Shiva Cafe (Bhagsunag)

Moon Peak Cafe (MG)

Snowline Cafe (Illaqa)

To-Do: Hikes to Dharamkot, Triund, Illaqa, Explore the town and the market.

 

En Route McLeod Ganj

Day Zero: 2 May 2016, Monday

There are two ways to get from Bengaluru to McLeod Ganj when you’re flying. Fly to Dharamsala and get a taxi ride to McLeod Ganj. Or, the more economical (albeit slightly roundabout) option of flying to Delhi, then catching a train to Pathankot and taking a taxi to MG. We chose the second option.

We departed from Bengaluru on 2 May at 5:30 pm and reached Delhi at 8:30 pm. Although Bengaluru was touching 40℃, arriving at a railway station in Delhi at 11:30 pm and feeling the heat made us wonder if Bengaluru at its worst was still better off than other metros?

An 8hr train ride between 11:30 pm & 7:30 am got us from Delhi to Pathankot. Another 5 hr ride by Indigo Taxi and we reached our destination McLeod Ganj- 12:30pm on 3 May.

At MG though, we were already feeling the difference. While it was overcast most of the day, night times were cold enough to need fleece jackets. We had made the journey in one day and for us the contrast was stark and exciting.

Indigo Taxi Rs. 2800/-

 

The Day With No (Reliable) Internet Connection – So Much For Plans

Day 1: 3 May 2016, Tuesday

Kora House; our base camp to be, was booked from the 4th onwards. For Day 1 we were not sure about accommodation or about our must have resource- Internet. We figured we’d find something even without bookings and we did- Kunga Guest House. Our first pleasant surprise- the place had a rooftop eatery; Nicks Italian Kitchen.

Making do with the Making do with the Internet at Nicks Italian Cafe. Good pizzas though.
Making do with the Internet at Nick’s Italian Cafe. Good pizzas though.

We were then off on a hike to Dharamkot, a town nearby. The route back was not the same as the one we had taken and we ended up on a round trip back to McLeod Ganj. That and the heavy, cold rains made day one adventurous enough.

En Route Dharamkot. Picturesque trails. We’d soon come to see them on all our hikes.
En Route Dharamkot. Picturesque trails. We’d soon come to see them on all our hikes.

For dinner we ended up at Clay Oven, a Tibetan restaurant. We loved the food here enough to make sure we visited the place three times in all before we had to leave. Their Thukpas were very enjoyable; especially in the cold, and we highly recommend them.

The Internet at the cafe and hotel so far was below par, but we were able to catch up on some minor maintenance work and that was Day 1.

Kunga Guest House– 2 Rooms, 1 Day, Rs. 700/- each

Hike to Dharamkot – Free

 

Base Camp!

Day 2: 4 May 2016, Wednesday

We were finally at Kora House (KH) around 11:30 am.

Air Jaldi & Rohitash To The Rescue

It was while we were moving to KH, that we first learned about AirJaldi- the solution to our Internet worries. KH also got their Internet from the same place. AirJaldi had their own router and dish, and covered about 30% of the market area in MG. This meant that if we were in range, then we could access their connection in a cafe or from any other place; we didn’t have to be in the hotel. We got a special subscription, and used it instead of WiFis at local cafes or other places, which were unreliable.

AirJaldi Office on Temple Road- One of the keys to making our trip a success.
AirJaldi Office on Temple Road- One of the keys to making our trip a success.

It wasn’t as if this solution was foolproof. Considering the distance of KH from the town, the connection wasn’t the best in the hotel itself. It worked better when we were closer to their dish- near the center of the town. That being said the connection was decent and we got our work done! Our Internet worries were more or less sorted.

Another point about KH is that place is about 1 km. downhill from the town and the famous Dalai Lama Temple. Be forewarned, you’ll have to walk uphill for at least 1 km. for anything that you may want in the town.

Kora House sits pretty overlooking a valley. Trust us the view from the balcony is worth it.
Kora House sits pretty overlooking a valley. Trust us the view from the balcony is worth it.

But, let this not be discouraging. KH had a homely atmosphere to it with only four rooms. It was peaceful, calm, and  clean (including the bathrooms). One km. was just far enough to keep us away from the hustle and bustle of the town but still well connected.

An isolated, paved road overlooking the valley leads you to a standalone building perched at the edge of a hill. The place overlooks Dharamsala including the world famous cricket ground. The gate will be unlocked. Rohitash in CC will be there when you arrive.

The view of Dharamsala from Kora House. Here, you can catch a glimpse of the the famous cricket ground between the two trees.
The view of Dharamsala from Kora House. Here, you can catch a glimpse of the the famous cricket ground between the two trees.

Rohitash is the owner of KH and lives in Dharamsala. He immediately made us feel comfortable and with his local knowledge made a bunch of suggestions regarding the eateries in the town. He also offered to bring us home-cooked food for dinner if we informed him in advance. A tempting offer; but McLeod Ganj has a variety of cuisines, and cultures. We wanted to take it all in so we decided to have dinner at KH on only one night.

All of this, AirJaldi, and Rohitash made KH a very good base camp for us.

AirJaldi Cost – One connection -of 1GB (Valid upto 7 days) – Rs. 100/-

Kora House- 3 Rooms (4 days, 4 May – 7 May) – Rs. 27,500/-

(Kora House, Buddha House Rd Past Dalai Lama Security Quarters and Horizon Villa, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala , Himachal Pradesh 176219)

 

Of Rains and Restaurants…

A spontaneous trip to Bhagsunag Falls that evening meant that we turned up to find a place with barely enough water to be called a waterfall. However, the weather which had so far been good, turned. It started to rain. We had earlier begrudged not seeing enough water and now we were seeing a fair amount.

We had come to know by now that rain (along with restaurants and work) would be a recurring theme during our trip and we were prepared with raincoats and trousers. In fact, those in our team who didn’t have it had to purchase one there to make it through the week.

Bhagsunag Trail
Bhagsunag Trail

We had some tea at Shiva Cafe at Bhagsunag, and the weather was perfect for it.

Early dinner and some work (the other two themes of our trip) completed Day 2.  The town, barring some eateries, shuts down by 8 pm. Plan dinners with this in mind otherwise you’ll have to settle for whatever is open at that hour.

Day 3: 5 May 2016, Thursday

Working from Kora House
Working from Kora House

Thursday morning we logged away some work while a hail storm came and passed. Perfect. Two out three themes and it was not even lunch time yet.

Well, the third theme, ‘Restaurant’, was soon to follow. We had read great reviews and received recommendations of this one restaurant Lung Ta which served Japanese cuisine. We reached the place around 2:30 pm only to find out that the place closes at 2:30 pm.

We were determined to try out the place. We went again on Saturday but were late again. Not wanting to give up, we planned to have lunch there on our last day in MG. We ensured that we reached the restaurant at 1 pm. Unfortunately it was 8 May, a Sunday and we learned that the place doesn’t open on Sundays. If you’re ever in MG we recommend Lung Ta so that you can pass on the review to us!

 

Trek To Triund & Illaqa: The Big Day But Not The One We Planned

Day 4: 6 May 2016, Friday

One of our main aims during the trip was to go on a trek. Indrahar Pass is a famous trek in the region but from our research we knew that it would take 3 days to make the journey. We could not leave our systems/customers unattended for such a long duration and hence the option was ruled out.

Triund. The contrast of the lush lawns (that looked manicured) laying before the snow-capped peaks was a wonderful sight.
Triund. The contrast of the lush lawns (that looked manicured) laying before the snow-capped peaks was a wonderful sight.

Triund, a popular day long trek from MG, seemed to be a satisfactory compromise. The trek, to and fro, typically takes 8 hrs. is what we were told- we could make it back the same day. At the same time we wanted to make it to Illaqa. We had read that the place snowed even in the summer and we were excited to see it. The trek was a two-day affair and again, this option did not seem feasible either. Nonetheless we asked around and Rohitash came to our rescue again!

Team BlogVault at Triund.
Team BlogVault at Triund.

He suggested that we take a taxi to Galu Devi, instead of starting the trek from MG. This would save us an hour each way and maybe allow us to make it all the way to Illaqa and back on the same day.

A sleepy, 6 am taxi ride took us to Galu Devi where we met Arun- our 21 yr. old guide. By this time, we were fully awake at just the possibility of seeing snow in the summer! We began our trek at 7:30 am; we doubled down and made it in 75 mins., reaching Triund at 8:45 am.

Breakfast- Maggi and Bread! Comfort food but slightly strange as we shelled out Rs. 950/- for 5 plates of Maggi & Eggs!

Triund; below the Dhauladhar Range, was a point of breathtaking contrasts – green grass on one side and snow-capped peaks on the other. So far deviating from the plan was good, and the stage was set for Illaqa. Since we had made good time we decided to push on.

We left behind our bags at Snowline Cafe, where we had stopped for lunch. We were glad to have no extra weight because by this time the trek was very challenging, and we were tired from the effort we’d put into the trek at Triund.

However, reaching Illaqa around noon was a great feeling- we found tonnes of snow and we felt like we were near a glacier. The presence of snow, a stream, and the splendor of Moon Peak 800mts. above our crowns made the trip worth it.

Snow at Illaqa!
Snow at Illaqa!

Again; we couldn’t help thinking, what a contrast to the Bengaluru heat!

The trek back to Triund saw the weather take a turn again and mild showers began. We decided carry on to Galu Devi to make good time. We were back by 4:15pm and took a taxi to MG.

On returning from a tiring day in the cold weather, some Tibetan Chicken Soup at the Tibet Kitchen was the perfect prescription for the hour. Also, the hot Chicken Soup was the perfect segue to dinner at Clay Oven.

Then some work and sleep.

The day was not the one we had planned for but we experienced all the recurring themes of our trip in their best forms and more.

Hiring the guide: Rs. 700/-

Back to Bengaluru

Day 5/6/7: 7/8/9 May 2016, Saturday/Sunday/Monday

On our last full day at MG we explored the town and did some shopping- tees, teas, flags, & a traditional garb for one member of our team.

On Sun, after a taxi ride back to Pathankot, we had to wait for about 4 hrs for the train and the only interesting place we found near the station for food was a dhaba. A sleepy train ride to Delhi and we were in the airport at 6:30 am. We landed in Bengaluru around 12 pm on 9 May 2016, a Monday.

After the seemingly long break, we came back refreshed and raring to go. We all ended up coming back to office at around 1:30 pm as no one went home!

It would take some more time for Bengaluru to cool down but the break ensured that we were not burned out (pun intended).

Bengaluru to Delhi (Flight) – Rs. 9546/- each

Delhi (DLI) to Pathankot Cantt (PTKC) (Train) – Rs. 1250/- each

Pathankot Cantt (PTKC) to Delhi S Rohilla (DEE) – Rs. 1062/- each

By now you most probably would have come across this story which has taken the internet by storm recently, especially the programming community. The story reads:  How a hosting company lost its entire business because of one line of bad code. Any person even vaguely familiar with command prompt can guess that one line:
rm -rf

(well the actual line of code as per its author was rm -rf {foo}/{bar})

 

The issue first came to public notice when the person responsible for this catastrophe asked for help on ServerFault (question now removed). As per the question and followed thread of comments author intended to run a script that did a few task along with deleting all files/folders inside certain folders passed as variable. Due to an error in the code, the variable got wrong value which resulted in wiping everything on the machine. Unfortunately he ran this same script on all his machines which led to deletion of everything. A complete annihilation!

 

Add to that he ran a web hosting company. He not only deleted his entire company code and data but also wiped clean all customer data. This affected some 1535 customers who were using his service (figures provided by him on serverfault’s thread).

 

Did he take backups?

Whenever a person read such stories, first thing to come across mind is – why didn’t he take backups? Well as per him, he did. He made backups on separate disks, however these disks were mounted to the main machine and hence the contagious script managed to wipe them too.

 

He posted a comment that read:

“All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script).”

 

We often come across users who are trying our service and tell us at the end of trial period, while they really loved our service their hosting company provides backup and hence they may not need our service. It’s difficult to explain why you cannot blindly rely on backups done by your hosting provider but this certainly is a good example to start with.

 

We understand it’s a rare case scenario coupled with human error and probability of something like this happening with your premium managed hosting provider is equivalent to probability of discovering extraterrestrial life. But the important thing to notice here is there is still a probability. There are over 1 billion websites on the internet today, even mere 0.1% accounts to 1 million websites and that’s a huge number. You definitely don’t want to be one in this million group.

 

If something similar happens with the managed hosting provider you are signed up with, your included backups will do you no good. This hosting company just lost all its data. Yes it was because of the carelessness of the system admin but human errors can happen anywhere. There can be another similar case, where a hacker somehow breaks into your hosting company’s server and run similar script intentionally. That will affect you equally. Not only your production site is gone, also the backups.

You should never completely rely on backups by your hosts

Though there are many managed hosting companies that provide quality automated backup to their customers, one should not completely rely on these backups especially when the site in question is your main source to bread and butter. If their system is compromised, so are you and your sites. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to have backups completely independent from your hosting servers.  


Let’s assume another case where your hosting company is hit by a major DoS attack and it went completely down for 3-4 days. Your site data may be safe but there is no way to access it. There is no certainty how soon they will recover and you cannot let your site just hang around like that. Since your backup belongs with the same hosting company, there is no way to access them either. Like it or not, you’re stuck. If only your backups were independent, you could have hosted them somewhere else meanwhile.

 

These are real world examples and can happen to anyone. A good backup needs to be offsite, robust, completely independent from your main servers and most importantly something you can access and deploy anywhere within minutes. We have seen enough number of times people despite having zip of their backup, running over various tech forums desperately seeking professional help to get their site restored because just unzipping it won’t bring the site back. There are various server configurations that may require fixing/updating in wake of recent disaster. Similarly a good robust backup should have an easy way to validate itself. Consider a situation where you are relying on a backup which is corrupt and you only learn this when you needed it. It’s a nightmare! While most managed hostings do provide decent backup service, these are a few scenarios where they fall flat.

 

Our post is not aimed to scare our readers, we just want to educate people about the importance of an independent automated backup service. One can never take their system for granted. As per the very nature of machines they are bound to crash, hacked, wiped out, melt down etc. One need to have sound backup system not just for their sake, but also for the sake of their users. And we just happen to provide one 🙂

Pausing a WordPress site’s backups is easy with the BlogVault dashboard. This can be done by clicking on the BlogVault dashboard’s “Pause Backup” button in the Menu Bar of the Site Details page. Doing so would pause ongoing backups and put all future backups for the site on hold.

 

 

The details of the last backup performed of your sites, as well as when the next backup is scheduled, can be found on the Site Listing/ My Sites page, as soon as you log in to the BlogVault dashboard.

 

The Site Listing page showing when your sites were last backed up and when they will be backed up next
The Site Listing page showing when your sites were last backed up and when they will be backed up next

 

Clicking on the site in question from this page will take you to its Site Details page.

 

Pausing a BlogVault Backup

You can pause the backup by clicking on ‘Pause/Resume Sync’ feature in the header of the Site Details page. Pausing the backup of your site would stop the sync and backup operations of the Backup, Management and Security modules on your BlogVault dashboard. This would also stop all future automatic backups on your site from taking place at their daily scheduled times, so it’s important that you resume backups once you’re done.

 

Pausing a backup
Pausing a backup

 

Resuming a BlogVault Backup

Resuming the backup is as simple as clicking the same button again.

 

Resuming a backup
Resuming a backup

 

Pausing and resuming a backup allows you to make changes to your site, and then back up said changes.

This lets you plan backups, and have instrumental changes saved. The ‘History‘ feature under the Backup module of the BlogVault dashboard allows you to track these changes and even add notes to backup versions so you know exactly what changes were made between backup versions.



Yesterday at 10:06 PM, blogVault got its 1000th WordPress Site. This is a significant milestone for us and, most importantly, underlines the faith that our customers continue to place in us.

We would like to officially take some time off to celebrate this milestone and thank our loyal customers for their continued support.

As always we look forward to your suggestions on features and how we can improve our product and service.