The Internet’s down, everybody panic! If you’ve ever said that, out loud, maybe it’s time to start thinking about how to prepare for outages.
Web-based services are awesome, but largely impossible to use if your Internet connection goes down. You should plan to be ready next time.
With a little preparation, even people who use web apps for just about everything can be ready to be reasonably productive during outages. Here are a few things to think about now so you’ll be ready later.
Make Cloud Files Available Offline
The cloud means all our documents are accessible anywhere with an Internet connection, but what if there isn’t one?
Well, part of the appeal of services like Dropbox and Skydrive is that they sync documents directly to your computer (although Microsoft slightly changed things for Windows 8.1). So if you use these services, and have the proper client installed, your files should be perfectly usable offline. Make changes and they’ll sync the next time you’re connected.
There’s just one potential complication: conflicting files. Shared files you edit while offline may be edited by someone else. If this happens you’ll see a conflicted version of the file when you reconnect to the web. It’s not usually a huge deal, but keep it in mind if you’re collaborating on something.
Google Drive is a little trickier. Files you simply upload to the service are perfectly accessible offline, assuming you’re using the desktop app. Things get tricky with any file formatted for editing by Google Drive’s online office suite. There are instructions for setting up offline access, but it’s a touch limited. You’ll be able to edit documents and presentations; spreadsheets are view only.
Still, it’s better than nothing, so make sure you set this up if you’re a die-hard Google Drive user.
Sync Email To Your Desktop
If you use a desktop email client, good news: your emails are almost certainly accessible offline. You can read your emails and their status will be synced later, assuming you’re using IMAP instead of POP (and if you own multiple devices, you should be).
But what about those of us who stick to the webmail services like Gmail? If you’re a Gmail user, you’re in luck: Gmail Offline is a Chrome app that lets you use Gmail offline.
The interface is a little different than the standard version, sure, but it syncs whenever Chrome is open without you needing to do anything (and Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts work exactly as you’re used to).
Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com/Hotmail service don’t offer an equivalent feature, so make sure you’ve got an email client set up for those services.
Make Your Calendar Work Offline
You need to know where to go when, whether you’re offline or not. That’s why it’s important you ensure your calendar doesn’t just live on the cloud. Google Calendar is by far the most popular online calendar service, and CalDAV support means it can sync with a number of programs (just not Outlook). Mac users, for example, can easily set up Google Calendar to sync with iCal/Calendar.
If you’d rather stick to your browser, however, you can – if your browser is Chrome. Just follow Google’s instructions for offline calendar use and you’ll be set up in no time.
Download Reading Material And Research
Research is a big part of most modern jobs, and it almost entirely happens online. That doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for an outage: it’s just a matter of preparation.
Are you researching a particular topic? Make sure the information you need is on your computer by clipping it to a service like Evernote. Their web clipper is the ultimate content saving tool, and incredibly easy to use:
Install that, along with the desktop version of the app, and you’ll be able to access everything relevant to your research online or off.
Mac users should look into Readkit, which is the ultimate offline tool for RSS and read later services. The application downloads your feeds to your computer, so you’ll be reading the web offline in no time.
Also make sure to download any and all PDFs and documents you need to access regularly. Sure, many are easy enough to find online if you need them, but you never know when you might be stuck offline. With a little preparation you can have everything you need to research on your computer, just in case.
Get Offline Maps
You need to know where you’re going, so you need to take your maps offline. Android users are in luck: Many apps download maps to your phone or tablet for offline use. The official Google Maps app also includes such an option, so be sure to check that out.
On the desktop you could try GMapCatcher. Originally built to download from Google Maps, but it doesn’t work with that service anymore. Don’t worry, though: GMapCatcher can download from Bing and Yahoo maps, as well as OpenStreetMap.
Tune Up Your Computer
Of course, if access to your documents, calendar, email and maps isn’t enough, you could always use the time to tune up your computer, run a virus scan, defragment your drive, or use the disconnected time to clean up your computer.
If you’re not sure where to start, download our Windows speed up guide and read through it. Make sure you have the software installed now so you can run it during offline time. You’re not getting work done now, sure, but a faster computer means you’ll save a lot of time later.
…Or Just Go For A Walk
Of course, you could use the offline time as an excuse to get away from your computer altogether. Take a walk, enjoy a local part and otherwise disconnect for a little while. Your work will be waiting for you later, so why not use the down time to collect your thoughts?
Know of another way to plan for sudden offline moments? Let me know in the comments, okay?
Image Credits: defective wire Via Shutterstock