I find surfing the Web can be a thankless task, especially if I'm doing it for anything but fun. Search engines and Web indexes such as Alta Vista and Yahoo are useful, but even with them, using the Web still takes up valuable on-line minutes that I have to pay for. Besides using search engines, what can I do to reduce this hassle and to keep my dial-up bills down? JAKE PEREIRA Macau Just as off-line mail readers are now the rule rather than the exception, so off-line Web browsers are starting to catch on. With an off-line browser, a user instructs his or her computer to download a whole site. The site can be downloaded overnight, or at some other non-busy time for the user. It can then be browsed off-line at the user's leisure without clocking up any more on-line time. There are several packages to choose from. InContext Systems' FlashSite is an off-line agent that uses a folder-based system to maintain Web pages it downloads at your request ( www.folio.com/ about/products.htm). One of the most interesting auto browsers is WebVCR, from NetResults. It uses a VCR metaphor to help organise and 'play back' downloaded material ( www.netresultscorp.com ). Agentware, from Autonomy, is one of a range of Internet 'agent' products that includes a programmer's library and a researching tool ( www.agent ware.com/product.htm). Tympani Development's NetAttach Pro is a complex tool that is highly configurable ( www.tympani.com ). Browser Buddy is a 'pre-fetching' agent that finds Web pages for you and downloads them to your hard drive ( www.softbots.com ). Teleport Pro downloads whole sites and marks requested documents for later reading. It also includes Web publishing tools ( www.tenmax.com ). WebEx works within your Web browser, making it easier to use (www. gowebex.com). Web Retriever Browses the Web at intervals scheduled by you and stores information on a database (www. folio. com/about/products. htm). Other products include WebSnake from Anawave ( www.anawave.com ), DataViz' Web Buddy ( www.dataviz . com), FreeLoader ( www.freeloader . com) and WebWhacker from ForeFront ( www.ffg.com ).