So you’ve got the latest piece of technology. Whether it be a high-tech gaming machine, an ultra portable tablet or a modestly powerful laptop. The question often lingers, however; what should you do with your old computer? In this article, I am going to explore a number of options that you can try.
Make a mini workstation
If your computer is really outdated and has very little RAM, you can give it a new lease of life by using a small version of Linux. Puppy Linux for example, can run on as little as 64mb of ram, a 333MHZ processor, and 350mb of HDD space. Whilst you probably don’t have a computer with specs like that (hopefully they will be much better), it just shows how you can use an old computer for some modern tasks. You may want to just keep it as a backup computer, or perhaps just use it to access the internet. The options are endless.
Create a NAS
What’s a NAS you may ask? A NAS is a network attached storage device that gives you a central location to store all your data on your home network. For example, if you have a computer, laptop, and tablet, you can access data at any time on any of the devices without having to keep unplugging and plugging in external USB drives. A NAS can also be used to download data overnight, serve as a media centre or provide remote access over the internet to your data. Whilst there are many open source solutions, I have found FreeNAS to be the far best. If you do choose to opt for FreeNAS however, you may find that you have to use an older version if your specs aren't up to the challenge. A full article on setting up a computer with FreeNAS can be found here.
Take it to bits
If you enjoy taking things apart, this option may be for you. There are many things inside your computer that can be both used and sold. If you have an old PC, people may not want to buy it, but if some of the parts that your PC contains are uncommon, people may pay a good price if they need it whilst repairing their own PC. Take care when dismantling your PC and seek professional advice (you can always ask us if you're unsure). Firstly, the hard drive can be used as external storage. If you have a SATA drive, you can cheaply find an HDD caddy to convert it into an external hard drive. If you have an IDE drive, you can also get a caddy however speeds will be much slower. Other parts such as the CPU and RAM can be sold easily, as they are small and easy to post. With the remaining parts (power supply, case, and motherboard) you may want to sell them, use them for another project or scrap them. They are much bigger than the other parts which makes them much harder to send via post.
Make a media centre
Media centres can be a great way to interact with your media such as music, videos, and TV. You may want to use a dedicated media centre operating system (such as Windows XP Media Centre edition) however it's not vital. If your computer is struggling for power, you can install a small Linux distribution and then run a program such as XBMC on startup. You may also want to splash out on a touch screen and surround sound system so you can get the most out of your media centre. If your computer is over 12 years old, you may want to look at upgrading your graphics card. Look up your model number and see what is compatible; you can pick up decent graphics card very cheap online.
If you know someone who needs a computer, or perhaps you think it could be useful to someone else, you could always donate it. Many charities will happily accept your old machine and find it a new home. Check your local area and websites for details on finding a local charity. Local schools, for instance, are normally happy to accept old computers, although it is advised to check with them first.