Ever a time to Refund.

If I was ever thinking of returning my machine, Now would be the time. I have an emergency project for a funeral and guess what? Because glowforge wont let me use it offline like any other product in the entire world, Im screwed. How can anyone so smart make such a stupid decision.


Ron, welcome to the Forum. This is NOT a typical situation, and it appears that this outage is due to a larger problem with Google. (Note, I am just another customer like you). Part of the reason that Glowforge is able to offer all of the capabilities that it does, at the price it does, and with the potential for continually growing capabilities, is the use of cloud software (Google in this case) to handle the calculations and processing.

Because they use Google Cloud to convert your file(s) / designs, or ones that are purchased from Glowforge into specific instructions that your machine can use to cut and engrave your projects, the cost of the Glowforge is (signficantly) less than it would be if they had to build all of the processing into each machine.

It’s built and maintained on the cloud platform, which makes it easy to provide updated software without the pain / risk of having thousands of customers install (and potentially break) new software updates.

The negative, of course, as you (and all of us) are aware of is that if there is a problem with the cloud provider (Google in this case) or the communication layer (internet), or your personal wifi, then you may have issues processing your designs at that time.

I know this doesn’t solve your problem, but I wanted to add a little perspective from someone who made my purchase several years ago, and who has been using my Forge for about a year now.

Best of luck,



Well explained.


I agree with @markevans36301 that is perfectly written. Should almost be a sticky.


I understand completely, and I appreciate the feedback. I still dont think it excuses the lack of ability to use my machine offline.


That was something stated up front, and everyone that bought one was well aware of the fact they rely on a cloud based service - caveat emptor…

There is a project to create offline functionality, but no one has really given it much support, so here we are.

keep in mind that home based systems go out as well, and often when that happens you have to wait days to weeks for replacement parts to arrive.

Its always a good idea to have some sort of backup if possible…


Sounds like it’s not the right product for you. Sorry to hear that.


I don’t blame you for being stressed with a project being due, but it sounds like maybe you made the wrong choice for your situation. I’ve been running my GF for a couple years now and this is maybe the second or third time I’ve had trouble running something. (I haven’t been all the way down today, but it has been buggy and taken multiple attempts.) I don’t say this to be flippant, but folks are getting good prices for their GFs and worth considering. Nothing is worse than having a tool that’s not right for you.


I also understand this, But I think its because Ive had my glowforge for like a month. Kind of frustrating when its already having cloud based meltdowns. I just dont get why I cant just plug the dang thing into my PC like a 3d printer or ANY other form of technology on earth. Lol


Because they chose a browser based app that allows you to use many different computing platforms to direct the operations of the laser. That is a choice for more flexibility and extends its use

I use Octoprint. That is a browser based app that allows you to drive 3D printers. It’s amazing and its open source. That’s great. I hope Gina stays healthy and the community around it continues to support her work. Glowforge is a business. They are making sound business choices in this day and age.

I have learned that when I am working on deadlines with any computing platform or machine, that I have to always plan for problems. I always print out final copies of my sermons as soon as I am finished and don’t wait for later, just in case. When I do a presentation, I never assume that the internet is going to function perfectly. I always have the content I need locally stored. And I have my own hotspot that I carry with me because I don’t want to depend upon the venue’s service.

It really is bad, especially when you have something that is as time sensitive as a funeral. But that is the nature of online platforms. It’s a choice. It’s going to happen.

For me, the benefits of a web app GFUI outweigh any advantage of a stand-alone, siloed software. When a new OS breaks the software or I can’t use it on any platform that is at hand, those are the real deal breakers for me, not the rare occasions that the service is down.


That was something stated up front, and everyone that bought one was well aware of the fact they rely on a cloud based service - caveat emptor…

Actually, if you open their commercial facing webpages, It is not initially overly clear that the forge is cloud based. Well down the home page, one can find a tiny box labeled “cloud simplicity” . clicking on that brings up the following:

“Your Glowforge runs from a web browser, which means there’s no software to install - ever. Drag and drop your designs right onto your material. Upgrades are instant and seamless.”

That box is easily overlooked and even if clicked, it does not fully tell of the pros and cons of the forge approach. There could easily be a web based interface that does not rely on cloud to function.

Later on down the page in the specs section they give the software specs without any mention of the cloud

  • Drag-and-drop with live camera preview
  • Works with Mac, PC, iPhone, Android, and more
  • JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, and more

It would be easy to miss the fact that one is out of luck if the cloud is sick.

Why do you think it was stated up front?

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I am not buying this:

Because they use Google Cloud to convert your file(s) / designs, or ones that are purchased from Glowforge into specific instructions that your machine can use to cut and engrave your projects, the cost of the Glowforge is (signficantly) less than it would be if they had to build all of the processing into each machine.

That statement paints the design decision that led to cloud based approach as a choice between processing in the cloud or within the forge. If those were the only choices then it would be true.
There are other choices. That conversion ( generation of gcode or similar) could easily happen on a local computer and then be transferred to the forge as happens with a host of other CNC machines ( mills, printers …). Localized computer processing would not change the cost of the forge in any significant way.

Software updates can be managed in other ways as well.

I don’t know about this part, but I do know that when I was reading everything I could lay my eyes on to decide whether to buy a Glowforge during the initial campaign, even I knew when I clicked on the buy button that it was cloud based. And, I knew absolutely zero about lasers then, either. Some people don’t do their homework, or if they do it’s not thorough enough.


While technically correct it would or at least could just transfer the complaints from how horrid it is to have to have an internet connection to why does my windows 95 laptop laptop keep crashing or takes two hours to process.


Stated up front means it was no secret. They weren’t hiding it and I’m not aware of anyone who was unaware of that fact.

As far as the differences between local and cloud processing, it dramatically reduces the need for updates/upgrades etc to local machines if new functionality is added.

Take for example the new version of retina engrave FSL just put out. It requires a whole new control board in order to run, which they are charging thousands of dollars to update. Even for people who are right past the exchange date on new lasers.

The way the Glowforge was designed was to minimize the chances/necessity of something like this, as well as to remove the need to write software for every operating system.


I suspect the experience of more recent customers differs from that of those who were exposed to the initial campaign. I am on month 14 of my forge. I had no idea about the cloud based approach when I purchased it. That purchase was based on the materials available a year ago and none of the stuff from the “old days” .

You may have overlooked or misinterpreted it, but it’s right on the front page…

Under “The revolutionary features that set Glowforge apart.”
See “Cloud simplicity”

The marketing and technical materials have really only changed very slightly over the past few years.


NO, I did not miss it. check my prior post where I mention it. That relatively tiny button is well down the page, (one has to scroll more than a little to find it), and unless you click it, you are not presented with the details. Those details are relatively thin as well. They by no means provide a level of understanding about the pros and cons of the design wrt how implemented in this case.

What is presented under software features in “the specs summary” just below the section you mention is lacking any mention of the cloud. One need not click to find this section, and there is a glaring omission.


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Well now I’m confused. But that’s okay. It’s kinda my natural state. You didn’t miss it, but you also had no idea. No need to explain further. I’m all good. :slight_smile:


:ballot_box_with_check: guess I need to go through my website and make sure that I have a cons section for each item on there. :slight_smile: