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cloud_vs_desktopThe debate begins! Well, the debate may not even matter in a few years as the Internet and computing evolves but for today it’s still here.  What debate am I referring to?  Which application suite is best: the desktop applications (one that is actually installed on a local machine ie. your computer) OR web-based applications (one that is accessible via an Internet browser and over the Internet)?

This article is going to major on the word processor (ie. Microsoft WordOpenOffice, Google Docs, etc.).  When it comes to word processors, there is no lack in choices, even just in the free category (check out 6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft 6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft 6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft Read More and 5 Great Alternatives To Google Docs You Should Consider 5 Great Alternatives to Google Docs You Should Consider 5 Great Alternatives to Google Docs You Should Consider Google Docs has its shortcomings. Maybe you want to avoid Google for privacy concerns. Or you might need different features. We found five excellent alternatives and one of them will work for you. Read More )!

In this article, I would like to go through some of the advantages and disadvantages of both the desktop AND the web-based word processor.

Feel free to “fill in the blanks” in the comments at the end and join in the poll!

What are the advantages to a desktop Word Processor app?

  1. They do not need the Internet. For some people, this is a very important point.  Even in today’s day and age the Internet is not EVERYWHERE you go.  For example, I live in Upstate New York where almost everyone at least has access to the Internet.  When I go up to camp, in the “sticks”, the only Internet service option they had was dial-up.  There are also the so many countries where Internet connectivity is not very developed.  My father-in-law is a missionary in Haiti with nothing but a dial-up connection.  Does no Internet connection equal no word processor?  Not good!


  2. The user has more control when the program goes “kaput.” For instance, if Google Docs is down for a bit, everything is on hold. If a program is local on your machine, you can actually do something about it.
  3. There are many more features available in most desktop-based word processors. Right now, at least, web-based applications, like word processors, are still being perfected and OpenOffice and Microsoft Office still have more features than, say, Google Docs.


  4. Performance MAY even be a factor. Some say that offline, desktop word processors perform better, making working much more fluent.

What are the advantages to a web-based Word Processor app?


  1. You can access your documents from any computer with an Internet connection and a web browser. For many people this eliminates the need to carry around their laptop or maybe even storage devices.

  2. You can easily collaborate with a document written with a web-based word processor. Many applications allow you to invite collaborators to make changes to your documents.  This has been a life-saver for my as bus captain at my church because I keep the list of bus stops and contacts in a private Google Document and the secretary can access the list at any time to update it and I can print it out on Saturday or Sunday when I need it.  The collaborative uses are virtually endless!


  3. Organization can be a bit easier with most web-based word processors. If all of your documents are located in one place, imagine how much easier life would be!  For instance, you may have several different folders on several different storage devices or even computers.  Image not having to worry about trying to remember where that all-important school paper went!  Google Docs stores your documents in chronological order but also at the same time allows you to organize them into folders.

There are a few things to remember though.  Many people use both for different purposes because of unique strengths and weaknesses.  It may also be a good idea to back up your online documents, just in case something funny happens!

Cast Your Vote

OK, now it’s time for YOU to weigh in on this topic. What did I miss? What is your preference: desktop-based OR web-based applications?  Which application do you use more often?


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