9 Clever Ways To Repurpose Your Old PCs And Laptops

Don’t you find it annoying when you’ve bought a flash new smartphone, that it suddenly becomes obsolete after just a few months of ownership? Sadly the same kind of thing happens in the computer world too!

For example, I built myself a pretty high-spec gaming ‘rig’ (as they call it in the gaming world) just under a year ago, and whilst it does not slow down or cause any problems with the games I play on it, the processor architecture (Intel’s Ivy Bridge, in case you wondered) has now been rendered obsolete thanks to the new Haswell architecture.

Image Source – Will Keightley, via Flickr.

Whilst it would be nice to keep my PC running as it is forever, I will eventually be forced to upgrade either because of software and operating system incompatibilities, or because a piece of hardware eventually fails. In some case like when the screen breaks your replacement of laptop screens can be done easily but in other cases this is not possible.

If you’re about to splash out on a brand new PC and you’ve got one or more ‘old’ PCs or laptops lying around, here are 9 ways you can repurpose them!

1. Set up a home server

Most homes in the United Kingdom have more than one computer system in their households, either belonging to one person or multiple family members. One cool thing you could do with an old PC is to set up a home server!

This is basically the same concept as a NAS (network attached storage) device, except that you don’t need to go and spend around £100 or more for the privilege! All you have to do is set up the computer to be accessible to people on your LAN, and you can have your very own free file server at home.

2. Set up a media server

Do you spend a large amount of your time watching movies and listening to music at home? If so, what you need to do is repurpose an old computer as a media server! You, and anyone else at your home, will then be able to access and stream all sorts of multimedia from your trusty old computer sitting in the corner there!

Obviously it goes without saying that you should only store music and videos on your computer that you are allowed to do so.

3. Set up a digital video recorder

Those of you planning to create your own bespoke CCTV surveillance system can obviously use IP cameras connected to your network at home. But what if you want to record footage from any of those cameras?

Consumers would usually go out and buy a digital video recorder (or ‘DVR’ for short), but instead of blowing a few hundred quid on such a device you could simply use an old PC for the purpose!

4. Set up a communal family PC

Even though many family members typically have their own PCs, laptops or tablet devices, some parents would prefer that their kids use a communal PC which they have control over.

It’s a good way to ensure that your children don’t visit any websites they shouldn’t be looking at, and because you can monitor their browsing habits you can ensure that they aren’t being subjected to any form of cyber bullying.

5. Set up a development PC

If you do a lot of programming work, chances are you will need to test your software creations on a number of different platforms. Whilst virtualization technology can take care of running a multitude of different operating systems on the same computer, sometimes it’s just easier to have a separate PC dedicated to the task.

For such a scenario, you could repurpose an old computer for the task and unleash your inner geek by having a collection of computers in your office or room that you use for development purposes!

Image Source – David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott (via Flickr).

6. Set up a laptop for automotive use

Modern cars have a dedicated diagnostic port that you can plug a computer into using something called an OBD-II interface (basically just a special serial or USB cable you connect between your laptop and your car).

Using the right software on your laptop, and, of course, the right cable, you could use even the most-ancient of laptops to run diagnostic software so that you can tweak your car to your heart’s content.

7. Donate a PC to charity

If you don’t care whether you get any money for your old computer or not, you could always donate your PC to a charitable organisation! It’s probably the best way to fulfil your computer disposal needs, and it stops your PC from ending up in landfill or just sat in the corner of your room gathering dust.

Just make sure that you securely erase the contents of the hard drive before you give the PC away, in case you’ve got any sensitive information on it.

8. Donate a PC to a family member

Sometimes a member of your family might want their own computer but can’t afford to buy a brand new one. Rather than them having no computer to use at all, you could simply donate an old PC to them and set it up for them so that it’s ready to use.

They will be very thankful and eternally grateful that you have thought about them, and you will feel happy because you have done your good deed for the day! It’s probably best to check that everything works on it beforehand though, or you might end up being asked a plethora of questions about why certain things don’t work properly!

9. Sell your old computers

One way that you could repurpose your old computers and make a few quid at the same time is to simply sell them! Websites like eBay and Gumtree are awesome places to advertise your computers for sale, and in the case of Gumtree you won’t have to pay a penny to advertise on their website.

You would be surprised by how many people want to buy an older computer for a super bargain price in Britain, especially with the economic pinch being felt by all of us these days!

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