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6 Things You Can Prepare For Internet Downtime

Justin Pot 10-12-2013

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 How To Keep Your Files Synced With SkyDrive In Windows 8.1 Storing data remotely and syncing them across devices has never been so easy, especially if you're using Windows 8.1. SkyDrive received a significant update, improving its integration with Windows and adding interesting new features. Read More ). 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 IMAP vs. POP3: What Is It and Which One Should You Use? If you have ever set up an email client or app, you will have certainly come across the terms POP and IMAP. Do you remember which one you chose and why? If you are not... Read More ).

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.
6 Things You Can Prepare For Internet Downtime image61
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 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 How to Sync iCal With Google Calendar on Mac Read More .

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 How to Download an Entire Website for Offline Reading Here's how you can download entire websites for offline reading so you have access even when you don't have Wi-Fi or 4G. Read More , and incredibly easy to use:


6 Things You Can Prepare For Internet Downtime 2 Web Clipper Interface

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.

If you’re an RSS user, get a desktop client that supports offline reading. NextGen Reader is a Windows 8 app that syncs with the Feedly Cloud 3 Apps and Services That Can Tap Into the Feedly Cloud Although there are several alternatives to Google Reader, Feedly, with its easy to use interface, has been the primary choice for reading news. Along with announcing Feedly Cloud, Feedly also informed its users about other... Read More , and with it you can read your RSS feeds offline.

6 Things You Can Prepare For Internet Downtime NextGen Reader Feeds


Mac users should look into Readkit, which is the ultimate offline tool for RSS and read later services Is ReadKit The Perfect Reeder Replacement For Mac? (Yes) Still looking for the perfect Mac RSS reader? It's here. Read More . 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 Sick Of Your GPS App’s Data Connection Flaking Out? Try 3 Updated Offline Maps [Android] Not long ago, Chris covered three of the best offline GPS apps available on Android. Since then, many other GPS apps released or received major updates. Do these newcomers compare favorably with those reviewed by... Read More . 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

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  1. Charles
    January 7, 2014 at 8:45 am

    You can also download the entire contents of Wikipedia for offline

  2. Márcio G
    January 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I must add my option, and it happened recently... I had a bunch of movies and series to watch... And I did, a lot! And still lots to see!


    Márcio Guerra

  3. Dave A
    December 27, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Most of the time i listen to music or often play offline games on Google chrome which you can get from the Google chrome store.

  4. KRS93
    December 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    bittorrent (sync), and hosting my own email/calendar/feeds

  5. ElSpamo
    December 13, 2013 at 1:14 am

    How about stockpiling a pile of paper-back books and magazines behind a breakable glass pane marked "Break in case of loss of Internet". Or, buy a piano and lots of used music books on ebay.

  6. CB
    December 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I'll vote for taking a walk, as long as it isn't below 20F.

    • Justin P
      December 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      I love taking walks in sub-20 weather, but I'm admittedly Canadian.

  7. MasterTech
    December 11, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Of course, you'll have to Google "local park" ahead of time!

  8. dragonmouth
    December 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    If you go for a walk, bring your laptop, netbook, tablet, phone along. You may just stumble on an open WiFi network. Anybody for "war-walking"?

  9. Zhong J
    December 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    This works better if you have slow internet.

  10. Anonymous
    December 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I like the last part -just go take a walk after all steps that you check on

  11. jymm
    December 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I listen to music and play games.

  12. David G
    December 11, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I like Pocket since it saves reading content on either an iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Its Chrome and Firefox extension automatically saves to your offline list while the app downloads what is being saved automatically in the background keeping everything synced at all times.


  13. ReadandShare
    December 11, 2013 at 12:56 am

    I use Gmail, so naturally, I keep my contacts there. Wonder why Google doesn't make contacts available offline for desktop users -- esp. since it does for Android phones and tablet users? Kinda annoying having to keep a separate desktop contacts app just in case the net goes down...

    • Jeremy G
      December 11, 2013 at 1:13 am

      To be absolutely sure you have your contacts, print them out, or write them manually in a notebook.
      I've been caught without, and I must say its not a situation I would wish on anyone.

    • Justin P
      December 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      You can download all of your contacts as a single file here:

      It's also possible to sync them with the Windows 8 Contacts app and the Contacts app for Mac.

    • ReadandShare
      December 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks, Jeremy and Justin!