Limitations to using the Chrome offline extension
There are a few caveats to this method of using the Chrome browser to access Drive files and folders when your connection is interrupted.
How do I know if I’m offline?
If you’re editing a file when your internet goes down, you’ll need to be aware that the spell check doesn’t work. However: any errors will be highlighted once connection is restored.
Google also gives us two notifications: one in the toolbar, and the other in the bottom left corner.
Aside from these, if all you’re doing is editing files, you may not even know you’re offline.
What files can I create and access when offline?
This method only gives access to certain file types while in offline mode. These are:
While you can create and edit these file types, any you do create will appear in your root folder. Not in the folder you create them in.
At the top of your Drive root folder there is the Suggested section. This area contains shortcuts to recently created or edited files. All of which are accessible while in offline mode, even if the parent folder is inaccessible.
Files contained in folders that have been opened in the current browsing session are also accessible. This includes folders that have been opened and then closed.
What about accessing folders when I lose my internet connection?
Firstly: you won't be able to create new folders without a connection, but there are workarounds to ensure we can access an existing folder’s contents.
If the folder is open at the time you lose connection, or you’ve opened it in your current session, you still be able to access the folder’s contents.
Usually: when an interruption occurs, the folders will still be visible in your root folder, but the folder names will be greyed out and you won’t be able to open them.
Upon refreshing the browser while offline, I’ve noticed a couple of peculiarities. Firstly the Suggested section disappears. Secondly: none of the folder names are greyed out and can be opened.
Unfortunately: that’s where the story ends. We won't be able to view the contents, instead: all we see is a warning telling us we’re offline and that some items may not be available.
Summary of working with Drive when offline
As we’ve seen, the Chrome browser solution to internet disruptions isn’t perfect, but being aware of it's limitations at least helps us to continue working through internet disruptions.
The best advice I can give is to keep all project files in one folder, and to ensure access to the most recently created or edited files, refrain from refreshing the browser while there is no connection