What Does Offline Mean?
In the world of technology, “offline” can have different meanings. Sometimes, saying something is “offline” means that it is not connected to a network at the moment. Other times, “offline” is a more permanent descriptor, referring to something that is only found in the “offline” world.
In general terms, offline means that the device and its user are disconnected from the global internet. Sometimes, people who talk about being offline are talking about the real world rather than the digital and virtual ones that people often live and work in. Some people refer to this offline world as “in real life” (IRL) and others may call the real world the “meatspace” (where human “meat” is located) to distinguish it from cyberspace and highlight humans’ lack of physical access to cyberspace.
One other aspect of understanding being offline in terms of device design is that many devices are made for online use. That means when they encounter problems, they may display an “offline error” that could be hard to diagnose and fix. Some devices, however, are also equipped with an “offline mode,” where users can get some functionality without a web-connected status. For example, while users may not be able to send correction details through a document editing program in offline mode, they may be able to either add these details and save for later sending, or do other kinds of tasks like view documents passively.
Many internet programs have an “offline mode” when disconnected from a network. A browser can still show pages that are either already loaded or local pages. Dedicated email clients let users view messages they have already downloaded when not connected to a network. They can also reply or compose new messages. When a user reconnects to the network, the messages are sent. Many mobile devices also allow users to switch them into “airplane mode,” which disconnects the Wi-Fi and cellular networks to comply with regulations on commercial flights.