Time to get connected to browsing off-line

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 October, 1997, 12:00am

Browsing the Web can be a time-consuming and often expensive process. This is true even if your Internet service provider offers a fast proxy server, you still have to be on-line to access the information.

That is where off-line browsing tools offer a salve to heal our financial wounds. Off-line browsing covers a range of tools for storing Web documents to be read, re-read and browsed off-line.

Many off-line browsing tools let you retrieve documents automatically to be read off-line, just like many of us read and write our e-mails off-line, only reconnecting to send and receive.

Even without a specialised off-line browsing tool, both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer offer built-in caches for rudimentary off-line browsing.

In Communicator (Internet Explorer is similar): choose Preferences from the Edit menu; choose the Advanced option; choose Cache - set your disk cache to a suitable large size (between 5000 and 10,000 kilobytes); under 'Document in cache is compared to document on network:' choose 'Never'.

With these settings in place, you can connect to the Internet, quickly load the pages you want to read, and then disconnect. Then, you can re-visit the pages by typing their addresses or tapping the 'Back' or 'Forward' buttons.

Of course, this solution is a bit cumbersome. This is where off-line browsing tools come in. They do a lot of this work for you. The following list is a selection of some popular freeware and shareware off-line browsing tools available on the Internet: WebZip, US$39.95, [Spi derSoft.www.spidersoft.

com] is an interesting concept. You use the tool to download entire Web sites or portions of them, and store them in a Zip file on your computer.

You can then unzip the archive to view an entire site off-line. Another feature of WebZip is that you can use it to drag pages into a zip archive while you surf the Web. These pages are then stored away in compressed form on your computer for later reference.

Folio Web Retriever, $39.95, [www.folio.com]. Like many off-line browsers, Web Retriever allows you to select information to be downloaded for later viewing. Web Retriever then goes on to put it into a database for searching, allows you to highlight text, add links and notes to downloaded documents and more.

Web Snake, $29.95,[Ana wave.www.anawave.com] uses what is sometimes referred to as pull technology. Using WebSnake, you can copy entire Web sites, generate a site map, and search downloaded files for keywords.

Web Downloader [www.

saransk.sitek.net/ages/arny/] provides a simple, free solution without all the fancy features of its shareware brethren.

You can download entire sites or parts of sites either manually or automatically on a schedule.

Finally, to get an idea of the wealth of off-line browsing tools available on the Internet, check out the list at Windows95.com [www.