What to Do When Your Internet Connection is (Gasp!) Disconnected


While Internet connections are undoubtedly more reliable now than they were a few years back, you’d be hard-pressed to find a connection that’s up 100 percent of the time. And for a web worker, those rare down times can be extremely frustrating.

No email! No checking your favorite websites. No access to information you rely on. No way to do your work (especially if you use web apps)!

Even the best of us will be checking the Internet connection every 32 seconds, pulling our hair out.

But do not fear. I submit that down time from the Internet is actually a blessing in disguise.

When we are connected all day long, disconnection can be a good thing. Seize this golden opportunity and make the most of it.

Here are just a few ideas.

1. Do a ton of work. For me, my most productive times come when my Internet is down for a morning or afternoon. I crank out a whole boatload of work. I hate every minute of it, of course, because I can’t check email or my blog comments, but I … manage. And I force myself to do work.

So instead of using Google Docs or WordPress to write a post or article, I use AbiWord. Sure, I might not be able to get the urls I need to insert into the text, but I can always do that later. Or perhaps I need some number or other facts to put in an article … so I just leave blanks and fill them in later. Or make them up. No one will know! Who actually checks facts? Only 2% of readers, that’s who. And it’s a proven fact that 62% of bloggers make facts up on at least a weekly basis.

2. Get outside. If you’re like me, you don’t know what color the sky is right now. I know I’ve gone outside after work only to be astonished that it’s been raining and thundering all day long. There was practically a Biblical flood outside, and I had no clue. Take this blessed opportunity to get away from the computer, and get outside. Take a walk, stretch, look at nature, get some Vitamin D (that’s from sunlight … you remember what that is, right?). It’s good for you.

3. Crank out your smaller tasks. Have a to-do list that stretches longer than your forearm? Here’s a chance to give it that much-needed reduction. Now that you can’t do your main tasks, focus on the smaller ones. Knock them down like tin soldiers. Feel the satisfaction of crossing things off your list. When Internet comes back on, you can make a new, shorter list. One that doesn’t make you cringe.

4. Go visit someone. Anyone. Your coworkers (yes, they look different than their IM icon), your boss, even friends and family. Use this time to get out of your office (or home office) and get some personal contact with someone. Nothing illegal, though.

And please, when you’re visiting someone, please, please, try to resist asking them if you can use their computer to check your email.

5. Relax. We spend most of our days under high stress, from all the work we have to do. And when the Internet connection comes back on, that stress will all come back. But for now, take a break. Get up and walk around, give yourself a neck massage, drink some water, smile. Take a nap. Play with your kid. Walk your dog.

6. Work on that long-postponed project. Is there a project that has been nagging you from your project list, one that you know you need to do but never have the time? Well, guess what? Now’s the time. Your usual work is on hold, so there’s no better time than now. Use this chance to complete the project, if possible, and when you do, you’ll feel better than ever.
7. Use Google Gears. Well, Google’s off-line solution would be a good option if it worked for things like Gmail and Google Docs, but we’re not there (yet), so just use it to catch up on your Google Reader reading for now.

8. Go to the library. And use the Internet. Or go to an Internet cafe. You know that’s the one you wanted to do from the beginning.


Anthony Magliocco

Good Suggestion Dual Wan Router. Check out the IBS CiRUS 100 router we offer.
The key difference in our unit is the load balancing as well as the backup funciton. Works nicely with the Verizon and Sprint EVDO cards. Dual WAN routers normally are very expensive.

I have heard in some communities the SLA Service Level Agreement for a DSL line is 3 days. You could do a lot of office cleaning LOL!

J Lane

Happens to me quite frequently, unfortunately. It’s the price you pay for living on a small (~1000 person) island off the west coast of Canada.

Internet connection down time is either:

a) writing time.
b) planning/organizing time.
c) family time.

It usually only goes out for an hour at a time, but lately we’ve been having power failures lasting 6 hours or so. I thought I’d be smart and put my gear on a battery backup — too bad the cable company didn’t have the same idea. The network connection still dies in power outages.


Great article! I resemble many of those remarks. I telecommute so the Internet connection is somewhere in the realm of importance as oxygen, but hey we can all hold our breath a little ;-). As for my internet service provider, like most of them, it has it’s moments but they are rare so props to them.


My connection was down for two months (just because my ISP wasn’t really doing his job … this is really a shame and I wonder if this could happen in the US, (I’m in France)), everything is fine now since two days (I also found a “real” ISP).

Although I need a connection for my work as a developer, this has made my way of working change a lot, I think I’ll never use an IM client again (for work purposes), I can leave messages to my contacts via email, the IM client solution is just a waste of time (a bit like the chat at the coffee machine in the office), nor do I check my google reader suscribtions every half and hour, I do that before and after work now.

Finally, this experience really showed me that the more “user friendly” the web gets; the more time I spend on it, and actually about half the things I used to do weren’t really related to work, I’ve also noticed that my productivity has increased …

So this was a “good” experience, but I just cross my fingers so that it doesn’t happen again :)

s flattem

I am retired, so if my connection goes down, my actual production goes up…it forces me to do the work around the house that I should be doing…when I did work [inventory control and production scheduling for a plastics injection company…on 2d shift], I instituted the ‘rule of 8’…if the system wasn’t up by 8pm…I went home.


When the Intenret goes down, I go into overdrive – such is the life of a Network Administrator in an organization that lives on constant contact through e-mail, Blackberry, etc. When that pipe goes down, I’ve got one phone on speaker, two or three other phones going and a hoarde of people kicking in my office door.

Thankfully, our connection rarely goes down.


I use the slow-but-free wireless connection that’s broadcast from the school across the street from my house.

Wayne Smallman

How fortuitous — this happened to me yesterday 3pm-5pm and then first thing this morning (IT guy killed the router then tried replacing it with some second-hand crap, thinking no one would notice!)

You know what I did? Drove back home .. ‘coz I’m installing Joomla! for a client and absolutely need my ‘net connection…


Perhaps ask your friendly web developer to make their app into an AIR app. Works straight from the desktop, built with the same web technologies, and works when disconnected. Any changes made to data/info are immediately uploaded to the cloud when a connection comes back.

Yes – I promote AIR for a living :)

James D Kirk

Or just buy yourself a dual WAN port router, get both a DSL and cable Internet connection plugging into that router with an external dial up modem back up attached, and never have to worry about the concept of your connection “going down”!


This just happened to me within the past couple weeks. First actually my data server went down, but shortly after that (within 1/2 hour) my internet also went down.

So I took that time (about 1/2 the day) to reinstall and then upgrade my data server (didn’t lose any data as data was on a separate drive thank god). I then also migrated my mythtv server from Fedora to Ubuntu (cause I still didn’t have internet and couldn’t work).

Oh ya, I cleaned my office for the first time in a long time too :)


63% of bloggers agree that making up facts is unethical. If the integrity of the blogosphere is as leaky as you say, perhaps we could be on the cutting edge of reversing that trend, no?

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