USB drive plugged into a Surface Laptop 2
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

You’ve likely come to rely on the internet to find useful information the moment you need it, but you can’t count on always having a reliable connection. That’s why it’s a great idea to download a copy of the internet’s most useful websites so you can access them while off the grid.

First, Get Your Storage Sorted

As any good data hoarder knows, creating your library starts with the foundation: quality and ample storage. You could potentially store these websites directly on your computer or smartphone’s internal drive, but you probably want that space for daily use. You’ve got lots of options in external drives, from fast and reliable SSDs to affordable and roomy HDDs. Another, more compact option is a USB flash drive, but you’ll typically get less space per dollar with these, and their small size makes them easier to lose. If you want to give your library the best chance of surviving anything, get a rugged SSD like the Samsung T7 Shield. We’ve tested and reviewed the T7 Shield, and it’s well worth the price.

Best Rugged SSD

Samsung T7 Shield - 1TB

Read How-To Geek's Full Review

The Samsung T7 Shield gives you peace of mind thanks to its dust, drop, and water resistance. Additionally, the SSD is extremely fast and supports encryption.

Of course, what good is a storage device if it doesn’t have enough room? Since data has a tendency to grow, it’s best to go big. To help you plan, we’ll note just how large each website is. But to give you an idea up front, downloading all of them at the time of writing consumes a healthy 225GB. That’s easily handled by inexpensive storage devices, but also too big for the base version of current flagship smartphones.

Additionally, know that storage devices can fail, be it from damage or sometimes no clear reason at all. If you want to be able to rely on your offline internet in emergencies, you need at least two separate drives holding two copies of your data, preferably stored in two different locations. If that sounds more expensive than you can afford right now, consider getting a smaller storage device (perhaps one you already have) and using it store just what you see as essential data.

How Downloading Websites Works

There are many free tools you can use to download entire websites, including HTTrack and Zimit. However, getting the settings right so that it downloads your everything you want can be tricky and can require some knowledge of web crawling.

In contrast, Kiwix is an application that’s preconfigured to completely download many of the most valuable websites out there, sometimes partnering directly with the website owners to make this possible. You can get Kiwix for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iPhone, and once you’ve installed it, finding and downloading websites is a cinch.

If you’re using an external drive to store those websites, before downloading anything remember that Kiwix is set by default to save to the local device. Go into Kiwix’s settings and change the download directory (or in the mobile app, the storage location) to your external storage device’s location.

Change your download directory to the location you want for your websites.

Once the proper download location is set, just click “All Files” in the main menu (or tap the Download tab at the bottom of the mobile app) to browse the complete list of downloadable websites.

When you find a website you want, simply click “Download” next to it in the desktop app (or, on the mobile app, tap the website) and sit back while Kiwix saves you a copy.

Of course, the larger the website, the longer it will take to download, so make sure you’ve got a stable connection. Wi-Fi has a tendency to drop out, so use Ethernet if possible (even with your phone).

The Kiwix app is also what you’ll use to browse the websites you’ve downloaded, so keep it installed on all the devices you plan to use offline. The Windows app, the Mac DMG version, and the Linux AppImage version are all portable, so you can actually store a copy of the app on the same drive with the websites.

1. iFixit: Repair Anything

Every one of your gadgets is going to break down eventually, and without the help of the internet, fixing it yourself can seem difficult, risky, or even dangerous. That’s what makes an offline copy of iFixit’s database of repair guides exceptionally valuable. iFixit knows this, which is why they announced a partnership with Kiwix in August 2022.

Look up your tech on iFixit and you’ll likely find several repairs and general maintenance tasks covered, with pictures and information about what tools you need. Even if you don’t find a guide specific to what you’re trying to accomplish, there are sometimes teardown guides to walk you through opening and identifying parts. General guides like how to remove a stripped screw are also useful regardless of what hardware you’re operating on.

iFixit on Kiwix at the time of writing is 2.52GB.

2. Weather Any Disaster

The website, created by the US government, is meant to prepare you for any disaster, from avalanches to nuclear explosions. It’s not just for prepping, though; there’s also advice for what to do if a disaster has already hit, which may well be the case the next time you’re popping out your offline database. at the time of writing is 2.05GB on Kiwix.

3. Wikipedia: You Already Know What It Is

Try counting the number of times you’ve looked something up on Wikipedia recently and you’ll quickly see what kind of hole it can leave. As has always been the dream with encyclopedias, an offline copy of Wikipedia will give you at least a cursory knowledge of just about anything without an internet connection.

Wikipedia is available via Kiwix without images at 46GB, while images add another 95GB. You can also use a tool called XOWA as an alternative to Kiwix, as we’ve outlined in our full guide to downloading Wikipedia.

4. WikiProjectMed: Health and First Aid

WikiProjectMed, also known as MDWiki, is similar and related to Wikipedia but with an emphasis on practical medical information. It includes critical stuff like recommended dosages for medications, guidance for wound care, and advice on how specific types of food and plants can affect your health. It’s also written with a 12th-grade reading level in mind, meaning it’s not just for medical professionals.

MDWiki with pictures is 1.64GB, and with videos is 8.50GB.

5. Cooking Stack Exchange: Eat Up

Even if you have recipes to work with, cooking well requires skill and experience—even more if you don’t have electricity. You learn from others’ experiences by flipping through the cooking section of Stack Exchange, a collection of questions people have asked about cooking with answers from self-identifying chefs. Topics covered that might be applicable when you don’t have stable power include cooking with fire, thoroughly cooking meat, and proper food storage.

One major drawback to the cooking Stack Exchange is that many answers link out to other websites instead of fully answering the question, and you won’t be able to visit them without the internet. You’ll have to look for more thorough users who’ve written out full answers.

Cooking Stack Exchange is only 217MB on Kiwix.

6. Project Gutenberg: Read Public Domain Books

Most websites we’ve looked at have been practical, but what about when you want some entertainment or enrichment? Project Gutenberg was created as a library of free ebooks without membership of any kind required. Much of it is classic literature that’s now in the public domain, so you can spend your time without the internet finally reading those books you said you read in school.

Most ebooks are available in several formats, including HTML for use on a computer, or EPUB for use with eReaders. If you’ve got a Kindle, learn how to transfer EPUB files to a Kindle device.

Project Gutenberg at the time of writing, the English version is 69GB.

The Best of the Internet Without the Internet

The websites we’ve covered add to and update their information frequently, so plan on regularly re-downloading your library to stay up-to-date.

For more tips on using your tech without power, learn how to keep your internet connection up during outages or make your phone useful when there’s no internet at all. You may also want to look into how viable satellite internet is as a replacement for your traditional ISP.

Profile Photo for Jordan Gloor Jordan Gloor
Jordan Gloor is Technical Editor at How-To Geek. He's been writing technology explainers and how-tos since 2020, but he's tinkering with computers and other tech since childhood. He writes on everything from Windows to Linux and from cord-cutting to generating art with AI.
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