Productivity

Handle Internet Outages Like a Pro with These Three Backup Plans

Whitson Gordon , Gawker Media

Handle Internet Outages Like a Pro with These Three Backup Plans

When your power or internet goes out, it can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a productivity-destroying nightmare. Before the next outage happens, have these backup plans in place so you don't have to scramble at the last minute.

As someone who works from home, I've had my fair share of internet outage disasters, and it's never fun. After a few stress-filled days, though, I've set up a few different backup plans so I'm never caught in a bind again. Here's what I do.

Tether Your Phone or Get a Cheap Mobile Hotspot

Handle Internet Outages Like a Pro with These Three Backup Plans

When the internet all of a sudden disappears, you'd ideally like to continue your work without getting up and moving. So, I recommend tethering your phone or getting a mobile hotspot. You can pay for tethering directly from your carrier, but that's expensive, especially if you don't use it often. For a cheaper option, try one of these solutions for Android and iOS.

Unfortunately, tethering can have its own share of problems. Maybe you have very limited data, or maybe you have an unjailbroken iPhone and don't want to pay exorbitant tethering fees. In that case, I highly recommend a pay-as-you-go mobile hotspot like the Karma, or (if you don't need a ton of data) a free hotspot like Freedompop. I have a Karma hotspot for emergencies, and it's fantastic: I just flip it on, connect to its Wi-Fi, and continue working without a hiccup. Since it's pay-as-you-go, I only ever pay for what I use in these "emergency" situations. Check out our guide to mobile hotspots to read more about these devices.

Set Up a Contingency Plan with a Relative or Neighbor

Handle Internet Outages Like a Pro with These Three Backup Plans

If a mobile hotspot just won't cut it, your next option is using a neighbor, relative, or nearby friend. If they trust you, they'll usually let you have their Wi-Fi password-in fact, you may already have it-and you can use their Wi-Fi when yours goes out (provided theirs didn't go out too). If you're friends with your neighbors and their Wi-Fi reaches your house, that's obviously ideal, but walking or driving to a nearby friend's place is pretty easy too. Make sure you have their password before the internet goes out next time, so you don't have to worry about it at zero hour.

Know the Nearest Businesses with Good Wi-Fi

Handle Internet Outages Like a Pro with These Three Backup Plans

Your last option is to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Don't just rush off to the nearest Starbucks, though: if my travels have taught me anything, it's that not all coffee shop Wi-Fi is created equal. Before you have another outage, find out which nearby spots have reliable, fast, and free Wi-Fi, so you know exactly where to go. Use a tool like 4sqwifi to get passwords for local hotspots on a map, or create your own. You're better off driving for an extra five minutes if the internet is fast and reliable. Remember, coffee shops aren't the only hotspots either: lots of public libraries have free Wi-Fi, and other restaurants (like McDonalds) have free Wi-Fi that may be closer. Be sure to stay safe on those public Wi-Fi networks, and have a secondary browser ready and optimized for slow connections. Photo by °Florian.


Internet and power outages are never fun, but if you prepare for the inevitable beforehand, you'll save yourself a lot of grief when disaster strikes. With these three backup plans in place, you'll be able to smoothly transition to a new network and continue working without scrambling around.

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