Offline

When a computer or other device is not turned on or connected to other devices, it is said to be "offline." This is the opposite of being "online," when a device can readily communicate with other devices. For example, if you try to print to your printer and you get one of those frustrating errors saying, "The specified printer could not be found," the printer is probably offline. You should check to see if the printer is connected properly and, yes, turned on as well.

Offline can also mean not being connected to the Internet. When you disconnect from your ISP or pull out the Ethernet cable from your computer, your computer is offline. Some programs, such as Web browsers and e-mail programs, have an option to "Work Offline." This option disables the program's network connection, meaning no data can be transmitted to or from the computer. This option was more useful when most people used dial-up connections. They didn't want their computer automatically dialing their ISP whenever a program tried to access the Internet. However, since most people now have "always on" connections such as DSL and cable modems, there usually is no reason to work offline.

Definitions by TechTerms.com

The definition of Offline on this page is an original TechTerms.com definition. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, you can use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about the Offline definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Want to learn more tech terms? Subscribe to the daily or weekly newsletter and get featured terms and quizzes delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.