Working offline and online…tools for the connected and unconnected world

offlineRecently I encountered a situation that used to be common – and now isn’t.  What’s that I hear you say? A complete lack of mobile phone, wi-fi, TV or any other earthly signal (well apart from the sun and some rain).

I’d gone away on holiday to a cottage and my devices were completely bereft of an internet connection.  However, I needed to complete some work I was completing with a friend and this got me thinking:

How do you manage working offline in a world where lots of tools such as Google Documents and other services work ‘best’ when you have an internet connection?

The situation I didn’t want to end up in was one where I’d created a whole separate pile of work that couldn’t be connected back to where I normally stored and shared files and made use of other services.


dropboxchromeThe following tips worked for me, and could work for you, when travelling or simply suffering a connection blackout.

  1. Continue to use the tools you like – but see if they have an offline mode or will sync back when online:
    1. Dropbox and GoogleDrive all have clients that you can install on your computer or device, using the local storage until you reconnect and sync back up to the cloud
    2. Google Chrome has offline modes for many of its services (when using the Chrome web browser) – such as documents, calendar.  You can still get the experience of working online – but offline.
    3. Other productivity tools such as GoodReader, Things, Evernote whilst often providing en enhanced experience when connected or through web-based, will work well offline using locally installed apps on your computer, iOS or Android device
  2. Revert back to older ways.  Viewing documents in Word, PowerPoint or Adobe Reader or creating web-content locally is still the norm for many people and only 2 years ago was still a standard experience for many.
    1. You can always convert your offline files back to your new online format.  GoogleDocs will import various files.
    2. Just save your new files in DropBox or GoogleDrive and they will return to the cloud on your reconnection.
  3. Rely on local storage and apps – just save everything to your local drive, or external hard disk and work out what you want to do with the content later.


This approach will get you through the situation of absolutely no connectivity – but you do have to remember to make sure that you’ve got all the content you need downloaded locally first!

However, you may also be surprised at how much you have come to rely upon the instant connectivity to look up resources, answer questions or carry out research… perhaps that’s a post entitled “How to switch off from being online whilst on holiday!”

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