How-To Geek

Other Ways to Use Your PC When Your Internet Dies

Nothing is more annoying than getting your Internet connection shut down, due to weather, or perhaps forgetting to pay your bill. Let’s take a look at some ways you can be productive and entertained without the Internet.

While a lot of people rely on the Internet daily for their work, like we do here at How-to Geek…if you lose your connection for a while, you’ll still have ways to finish work, listen to music, watch movies, and play PC games. The things you won’t have access to is your email, IM, Social Networking sites, online documents, and browsing in general. Here we’ve put together a list of suggestions of what you can do while your Internet connection is down.


Perform PC Maintenance Tasks

Since the Internet provides so many distractions, you might have neglected system maintenance and file organization for a while. Go through and uninstall programs you no longer use or need. One of the best ways to clean up old programs and leftover items is with Revo Uninstaller Pro or Revo Uninstaller Free edition. Hopefully it is already installed on your hard drive or thumb drive.


If you don’t have it installed you can certainly still use the Programs and Features option in Control Panel in Vista and Windows 7 (Add or Remove Programs in XP) to remove them. But this will leave a lot of leftover folders and registry settings, especially if you’re trying to completely remove iTunes and everything associated with it.


Other maintenance tasks you might want to catch up on is making room on your hard drive by doing a Disk Cleanup. Before doing the disk cleanup, save any work you have open and close out of all programs. Then click on Start and type %temp% into the Search Box or Run line in XP and hit Enter.


Then hit Ctrl+A to select all of the files then hit Delete. This will clear out the Temp folder, which Disk Cleanup often misses.


After that empty the Recycle Bin and run Disk Cleanup.


You can also run a computer cleanup utility such as CCleaner…either the full installed version or the portable version.


If you decide to clean up the Registry, scan for issues, then click Fix Selected Issues. CCleaner allows you to backup the Registry before fixing the issues it found, which you definitely want to do in case something doesn’t work and you need to restore it.


If you don’t have Windows set to automatically defrag the hard drive, this might be a good time to run the process or set it up on a schedule. In Windows 7 type disk defrag into the Search box in the Start Menu and hit Enter.


Now you can Turn on a schedule, analyze the amount of fragmentation, and kick off the defrag process.


Here is an example of setting up a schedule for for the Disk Defragmenter. For more on using Disk Defrag check our article on how to configure disk defragmenter in Vista or Windows 7.


If you don’t want to use the built in defrag utility, there are other 3rd party apps that run more quickly like Auslogics Defrag or Defraggler.


Clean Out the Physical Desktop and Laptop Hardware

Over time your desktop collects dust and it’s important to blow out the case periodically. Get some Canned Air, and clean out all the dust bunnies in the machine. Also, this is a good time to reseat the systems RAM, check cable connections, Video & sound Card…etc.


Photo by: pointytilly

Another thing you might want to do is clean your keyboard and mouse. If you haven’t done it recently, you’ll be surprised how much dust, crumbs of food, or perhaps cat hair that is lodged between the keys. Again you can use Canned Air for this, or if you want to be very thorough, take out each key and get all the junk out of there.

Speaking of cats, if you are tired of seeing your computer running when it should be asleep because your cat has an attraction to the keyboard, check out our article on how to stop the mouse or keyboard from waking your computer from Sleep Mode.


Photo by:  –Amelie-


Even with your Internet being down you can still be productive. Here are a few suggestions on ways to still be productive with no Internet. Provided you have local copies of Office Documents, you can certainly still work on them. Maybe you have a PowerPoint, Word Document, or Excel Spreadsheet to work on or review.


Organize your To Do Lists and Notes

You can use this time to organize your notes and To Do list without any distractions. Since Evernote and OneNote keep your notes synced between your machine and “The Cloud” hopefully you’ll have what you need to work on.


Update your To Do List…a nice free app for this that we’ve previously covered is Doomi. It’s light on system resources and is easy to work with from your desktop.


Use the Time to Brainstorm

While you have some downtime from the web, you can use the time to brainstorm ideas for work projects, your website, or other collaborations you’re working on. You can use simple apps like Notepad, Word, or more complex apps like Action Outline.


Clean Up Your Inbox

While you won’t be able to send or Receive any emails, you can take the time to clean it up if your using an email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird. Go through and delete unneeded messages, clean out your Deleted Items, and run Auto Archive. This will help you to get better organized when you connection comes back.


You can also take the time to help speed up Outlook following suggestions in The Geek’s guide on how to make Outlook faster by disabling unnecessary addins.


Get to Know Portable Apps

If you have a thumb drive with PortableApps or Lupo PenSuite, it would be a good time to explore the apps and find ways to use them to make you more productive while on the go.



While your Internet is down you can also find ways to be entertained while waiting to get it back. You can watch or listen to whatever is currently on your hard drive like Podcasts, Movies, Music, eBooks…etc.

You can take this time to organize your local photo collection with tools like Picassa or Windows Live Photo Gallery.


If you subscribe to Podcasts, chances are there are a few that have been downloaded prior to your Internet connection going down. Use this as an opportunity to get caught up on them.


If you have a TV Tuner card or HTPC setup you can still watch Over the Air broadcasting, or your cable channels (provided the cable isn’t down as well). But you should still be able to get Over the Air channels at least by hooking up an HD Antenna.


Of course you can still watch movies and other videos you have ripped or downloaded to your hard drive. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and just pop in a DVD.


PC Video Games

A lot of PC games require you to be online for multiplayer action, but a lot also include a single player mode that doesn’t require you to be online. Go through and have fun with the story line of single player mode.


Or go back and relive the enjoyment you experienced with older games.



If you have Kindle for PC or Barnes & Noble’s Nook for PC you might want to take the time to get caught up on your reading lists.


Take the time to organize your music collection in WMP or whatever your favorite desktop music player is. Remove DRM, convert music file formats, and find duplicates in your collection using TuneClone, Audio Dedupe, or AudialsOne.


Go to a Public Wi-Fi Hotspot

If you just can’t stay away from being online to complete work, check out Facebook, or find the latest Lady Gaga videos, you might want to bring your Laptop, Netbook, iOS, or Android device to a location with Public Wi-Fi. If you do, make sure to follow our guide on staying safe while on a Public Wi-Fi Network.


Photo by: Nebraska Library Commission

Take Time Away from Your PC

As geeks, most of us spend far too much time on the computer anyway, so take a break from it! Get outside and go for a walk, read a book, hit the treadmill, work on neglected house chores. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from anything to do with technology for a while to clear our heads.

There’s actually a real world out there to be explored. You can use Internet downtime to use your geek skills to get out and meet new people


Photo by: Andrea Rose Marie

These are just a few suggestions on how you can still use your PC even when your Internet connection goes down for a prolonged period of time. Or use it as an opportunity to get outside and meet people. Most of us don’t know how we got by without the Internet, but when the unthinkable happens, you can still use your PC for productivity and entertainment. What about you guys? What things do you do with your PC when your Internet connection is down? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 08/26/10

Comments (30)

  1. Asgaro

    …or you could go outside and have a life? :D
    (Just kidding!)

  2. Angel

    Impressive the thing someone can do.

    Maybe some of us are just a little obsessive with Internet.

  3. jeremiah

    For me, the last few times I’ve had to deal with the internet being down was when the power was completely out. So, my laptop still has a battery charge, but only for so long. So, the last option is pretty much the only useful one here. Anything too heavy, and the battery will drain quicker.

  4. Tyler

    Luckily I have a local development server, so when the internet does go down, I can still do my day to day web development, I just can’t look up on Google or whatever if theres any “It should work, why doesn’t it” moments – and thats where my mobile comes in.

  5. Wayne

    That last entry is disturbing. “Take Time Away from Your PC”? You mean like, go outside? But there are people out there and they might want to have meaningful conversation. Not to mention going out into the sun would ruin my pasty complexion.

  6. JasonCook599

    I think that the timing of the article is funny. Our internet connection went out last night, so I called my ISP to get it fixed this morning (they reset our password since it didn’t have a number in it!). Anyways I just opened up Google Reader and this was the fourth article (out of 55).

  7. Ken

    awesome timing :)
    my 1 year subscription will end this month..:O

  8. Bob

    You should have added “compress your pst files” once you have deleted your old emails – this can free a lot of space

    And how about archiving all your family photos to DVD? (for that matter, backing up all your data!)

  9. stephen

    rooted android device, no need to worry about down internet.

  10. Granny Shirley

    Heck, I am not goinna wait till my Internet is not available for any reason. I am going to do some of that right now. Ineed to learn something anyway to keep ahead of my grandkids. Over and out>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Grandma Shirley

  11. Kaushik

    Read feeds on Feed Demon which is synced with my Google Reader account. No Internet needed. :)

  12. Prashant

    OMG! I didn’t know we could do all this!

  13. Moosa

    when internet is down,, it’s best time to go out and live a real life.

  14. Carmelo

    Whatever. We’ll use our smart phones.

  15. Kevin

    I just play Microsoft Flight Sim X or Crysis. Or just break out the old school PS2. That’s right, PS2

  16. raku

    great time pass man a learning articles love it…

  17. Bob

    great article!

  18. kyle

    please how do you play older games and what is that old game mentioned above of the boat.


  19. Fredrick

    Bookmarked to read on a day when my internet is down!
    Oh wait…

  20. alimok

    Excellrnt ideas .what about running ur antivirus that might take hours.when u r out ,and is it safe?thanks

  21. bl4ze

    @post “Take Time Away from Your PC”
    This is stupid idea :)

  22. dave

    Awesome post!!


    lol hilarious
    I got my phone
    will just tether =p

  24. Wes

    Did it occur to anyone that the guide to what you could do when your internet is down, is on the internet? Wow, you know humans are too technologically dependent when they cant figure out what to do off the internet without using the internet… ya dig?

  25. Bob Walsh

    Am I the only one who had a computer before everybody and his dog were online?

  26. JimS

    “…when your internet dies.”
    This is just crazy talk.

  27. adsf

    This is a sad time if you have to inform people of what they can use their computer for offline.

  28. Kmuzu

    Fun article .. My internet died last night and I spent a good three hours just crying.

  29. me

    Or, be smart like me and get a laptop with 4g.

  30. David Ginsburg

    Lots of SEX !

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