Documents: What is Online vs Local?

For many years, documents lived on our computers. When online documents came along, they started to live on the internet and that changed how we created and shared them. This video explains how online documents differ from local documents saved on a computer. It teaches:

  • What makes a document local versus online
  • Why local documents represent a risk and make collaboration difficult
  • How to create and share an online document
  • Why collaboration is easier with an online document
  • What kinds of documents are online documents

Video Transcript:

Back in the old days, documents mostly existed on paper that could be copied, shared and stored for future reference. When someone far away needed the document, it could be sent in the mail.

Today, documents play the same role, but computers and the internet have changed how we think about them.

Let’s say you needed to create a document that summarizes a recent meeting. In this example, you use software on your computer to do it. With your work done, you give the file a name and save it in a folder on your computer.

To share the document, you find the doc on your computer and attach it to an email. This is called a local file, because it’s saved in a folder on your computer.

This system works, but can cause problems. If your computer dies, the file could be lost. Further, if you send a file to another person who saves it on their computer, the file now has two versions that become difficult to manage when changes are made.

These problems went away when you discovered online documents. In this case, you log in to a website to create a new document, usually for free. There is no file saved on a computer. The document exists as a web page that automatically saves your work.

The web site organizes your documents and makes them available anywhere you can log in, including smartphones and tablets.

Instead of sending attachments to colleagues, you can share the online document via email and control who can view and edit it. Once invited, they can access the document in their browser. This makes collaboration easier because there’s only one version of the document.

It’s also possible to publish the document so that anyone with a link can view it without logging in.

And it’s not just meeting notes. Presentations and spreadsheets can also be online documents. Of course, online documents aren’t perfect. They may require an internet connection to work and usually have fewer features compared to software on a computer.

The good news is, you have a choice. Most documents can be either local or web-based, depending on the situation.

This means you could create a document using software on your computer and then import it into an online system. Or vice-versa.

We’ve come a long way and now, documents are more efficient and flexible than ever before. How you use them is up to you.


This FAQ library was created by Eran Bucai. Eran is an online entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people find success building a profitable business online without the high ticket prices and without the marketing hype.

Eran has a tech support membership which you can learn more about here:

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Last updated on 22nd November 2021 by Eran Bucai

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