Google has introduced technology to allow users to edit online documents offline.
The announcement marks a step forward in cloud computing, an alternative to having local servers or personal devices handling users' applications by sharing computing resources.
Some businesses have been reluctant to use online applications because of concerns that work may be lost if connections fail.
"Cloud computing is great, but you need the cloud to make it work. On an aeroplane, on the shuttle commuting to work, or at home when my cable modem goes down, I want to work on my documents. And, until now, that usually meant saving a copy and editing on the desktop," said Philip Tucker, software engineer at Google Docs.
"With Google Docs offline (powered by Google Gears), I can take my little piece of the cloud with me wherever I go. Once enabled, I have a local version of my document list and editors, along with my documents," said Tucker.
As long users have an internet connection, every change they make is saved to the cloud. When the connection is lost, users lose some features, but can still access documents.
The initial release allows offline editing of word processing documents. Google plans to expand the service to support offline access to presentations or spreadsheets.
Users will be able to work on documents created at docs.google.com offline. Any changes to the document will automatically sync up to the online version from the offline version, which is stored locally on the user's PC.
Users download a browser plug-in called Google Gears. Gears is open source, and any developer can build their web applications to work with it, said Google.