What To Do With Your Old Computer:
All computers eventually come to the end of their lifespan. When this happens, you’ll be left with a seemingly useless piece of technology. You could leave it to gather dust in your wardrobe or you could put it to good use. Here are ten ways you can use an old computer to better your life or that of others.
Stop wondering what to do with your old computer, and start recycling, re-using, and re-configuring. Binning an old PC isn’t a good idea, given the security and environmental implications, but we have thought of 12 great uses you should consider. At some point in your computing life, you’ll end up replacing an old machine in favor of a shiny new computer. But what should you do with your old PC?
If it’s still working well, then throwing it out won’t be the best move. It’s bad for the environment and it might contain sensitive information. There are various ways to delete that data permanently, before you bin it or take it to a reputable electronics recycler. But it’s amazing how many people ditch perfectly good machines when you can do plenty of things with an old PC. In fact, here are a dozen ways you might put that old system to work.
1. Give Your Old Computer To A Relative:
If your computer is still in working condition, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to hand it on to a relative with modest computer needs. You might not want to give it to a younger relative, as kids usually need much more horsepower than a five-plus-year-old PC can offer. Instead, look for a friend or family member who does little more than browse the web.
Before you pass your old computer on, we suggest completely erasing the hard drive backup first and re-installing the OS. This will improve performance and create a ‘blank slate’ for the new owner to fill to their heart’s desire. Just be warned: when you give a family member your old computer, you agree to be on-call for tech support. I do this all the time. My brother-in-law has modest computing needs. So I’ll often just hand over one of my two-year-old PCs, though I’ll usually drop in a mid-range or entry-level graphics card.
I don’t generally recommend doing this with your kids, though at least, not if your kids are like mine. They often need as much or more PC horsepower as I use on a regular basis outside of gaming and photography, anyway. My oldest daughter is a dedicated photographer and makes heavy use of Photoshop, while my youngest daughter has become a pretty hardcore gamer.
Giving a system to family members can be fraught with peril, though. That’s because you are now the go-to person for tech support. So you’ve been warned: Give a PC to a friend or relative, and you’re now on call. One thing you’ll definitely want to do is completely erase the hard drive and reinstall the OS from scratch. If it’s an off-the-shelf system from a major manufacturer, restoring it to its original state from the restore partition or restore disc accomplishes the same thing.
2. Convert it to a NAS or Home page:
If you don’t already have a NAS, this is a great use for a now-obsolete PC. Sure, you could pay for cloud storage for your family, but a NAS gives you full control over the security of your files, and means you can keep your music, photo, and video libraries in one place for everyone to access. Run a home network with multiple users. Converting your old machine into network-attached storage NAS device could be the way to go.
This process will take a little more effort than plugging your old computer into a network connection most PCs are not configured to be effective storage systems. You will want to switch to BIOS power management if possible, set the operating system to remain on during key times, and ensure it uses less power when not being actively used. You will also probably want to run your system ‘headless.’
That is, without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. You will, however, need the display during the initial setup. Finally, you may like to install an operating better suited for storage applications. Windows Home Server is one option. Another is Free NAS. If the conversion process seems a little out of your league, feel free to get in contact with our expert team. We can create a functional NAS system for your home out of an old computer.
3. Use It To Experiment:
Maybe you have heard of Linux and are interested in giving it a try. But, the thought of setting up a dual-boot system on your new PC makes you extremely nervous. Why not experiment on your old computer? If you are particularly computer savvy, you could attempt to create a Hackintosh that is, a PC that runs MacOS.
You’ve heard about this Linux thing, and maybe you’d like to give it a whirl. But the thought of trying to create a dual-boot system on your primary PC leaves you a little green around the gills. Now you can experiment to your heart’s content on your old box.
Check out Ubuntu, the sexy Linux distro that geeks love to, well, love. The neat thing about Linux is all the built-in support for older hardware, so installation is usually easy. In fact, installing Ubuntu is sometimes simpler than installing Windows. And there’s a wealth of free software for Linux just waiting to be tried out. If you think you’ve got tech-savvy and a bent for tinkering, you might try creating a Hackintosh – a PC that can run MacOS.
It can be done, but it does take a fair amount of effort. The main hack-in tosh site is a good place to start, but expect a long and somewhat bumpy trip. Oh, and you’ll have to fork out a legal copy of MacOS. In addition, a number of true UNIX-based operating systems are available, ranging from FreeBSD or PC-BSD (based on the Berkeley UNIX version) to Open Solaris, based on the Sun Microsystems version of UNIX.
4. Donate Your Old Computer:
If your PC is not too old and is in working condition, a great option is to donate it to a charity. There are a number of charities and organizations around Australia that accept used electronics, including charity stores, child and family charities, youth centers, schools, youth justice services providers, and more. To find a charity or organization that accepts second-hand computers near you, check out this interactive map. Before you donate, don’t forget to wipe the hard drive and reinstall the operating system.
5. Dedicate Your Computer To A Distributed Computing Project:
Many hands make light work, right? If you’d like to do a little good with your old computer keeping in mind you will need a fairly new graphics card then join a distributed computing project. A distributed computing project uses computer resources from all around the world connected to a central network via the Internet to study and potentially solve a problem.
One example is Folding at Home, a project that examines protein folding, an essential element of diseases’ operations. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of current distributed computing projects. Want to do a little good for humanity? How about dedicating your old PC to one of the various public distributed computing projects?
The best known is probably Folding at Home. Folding at Home uses computing resources from all over the world to help study protein folding, an essential element in understanding how many diseases operate. If your old PC has a fairly new graphics card, that hardware can often pitch in as well, and offer up even more computing resources.
Other distributed computing ventures include SETI at Home, where you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search which is dedicated to finding new Mersene Prime Numbers. Plus many more are based on the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.
6. Play Some Old-School Games:
If you are a bit of a gamer, you could keep your old computer, install an older operating system even as old as Windows 98, and dig out those old-school games that you know and love. If you have not hoarded your games from times past, you could jump on eBay. Do keep in mind that online services, such as Steam, now offer a ton of older games that you can run on your modern PC.
So, it may be worth looking there first before you install the old OS. Related to the idea of using an older system as a dedicated game server, consider repurposing that box for retro gaming. You can go as nuts as you want. For example, install Windows 98, so you can run those older Windows 95 and DOS games if you have some around. Lemmings, DOOM, and Wolfenstein 3D are all classics now.
Note that online services such as Steam are offering older games that have been rewritten to work under newer operating systems, and DOSBox lets you emulate a legacy DOS environment to get your classic gaming fix. So you can probably stick with Windows 7 or 8 if that’s what the old PC is running. Perhaps the most complete site for older PC games is Good Old Games. GoG, as it’s often called, offers a large number of older titles, all of which work fine under newer operating systems.
So if you’ve always wanted to go back and play Plane Scape: Torment, now is your chance. If you want to go really old school, install MAME multiple arcade machine emulator software. That will allow you to play arcade games and games written for older game consoles, provided you have access to the ROMs and other related files to run the games. MAME can become a gigantic time sink albeit a very fun one, so you have been warned.
7. Create A Light-Duty Communal PC:
Before everyone had their own laptop, tablet, and smartphone, most households had just one desktop computer. These communal ‘living room’ PCs provided fast and easy access to the web and your email. With an old computer, you can create a similar setup. Stick the device somewhere super convenient, and use it to quickly search the web, check your email, check the weather, and more.
Give everyone in your household access, too, so they can take advantage of the communal setup. We have a small PC in our living room that’s often used for quick web surfing and checking email. Occasionally, our kids will come down and do homework on the communal PC when they get tired of being holed up in their rooms.
This can work particularly well if you have networked storage somewhere in the house, so people can get to their files whether they’re on a personal system or a communal one. If you do have this type of communal PC, your first inclination might be to create separate accounts for each person.
I’ve found this isn’t really necessary. Since it’s communal, no one really keeps private information on it. The flip side is that you’ll want security software that’s as bulletproof as possible. Since you have multiple users on one system, eventually someone, sometime, will hit a website that may attempt to download a Trojan horse or other malware.
8. Recycle Your Old Computer:
Did you know that computers and other electronics contain hazardous materials? Well, they do. And if you have decided there really is no use for your old computer, please take the time to recycle it ethically. When disposed of in a landfill, the material and chemical components used to make computer equipment including lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic can leach into the soil and groundwater.
This harms our environment and both human and animal populations. If you’d like your computer recycled properly, you can learn more about our ethical services here: Computer Recycling. Contrary to reports, it is that easy to be green but it’s not always cheap.
The simplest way to ditch your PC without damaging your conscience is to visit Recycle-more.co.uk and find your nearest recycling bank. Your local authority should be able to collect the PC for a small fee, but some will simply dump it into a landfill, so be sure and ask.
These days, legally, you shouldn’t have to foot that cost. Under UK WEEE regulations, PC retailers are honor-bound to provide take-back facilities for customers to return old equipment whenever a replacement item is purchased – free of charge.
The standard and variety of service offers differ depending on the size of the organization. Some of the bigger ones, including Currys PC World, will recycle old electronics if you’re buying a similar product. Dell, for instance, will collect your old item for free, regardless of brand, when you’re buying a new PC. Others, like Amazon, will direct you to a designated collection facility for recycling your PC when you make a purchase.
9. Attempt To Salvage It:
You might not need a new computer. Do not believe us? Here are nine reasons why you probably don’t need to fork out hundreds if not thousands for a new device. There are a whole host of tips, tricks, and tweaks you can try to improve the performance of the machine. These include re-installing your operating system, de-cluttering your hard drive, and performing some cost-effective PC upgrades.
If you build your own PCs, you may reduce the cost of your new system by salvaging parts from the old one. Good candidates for salvage include the case if it’s not a proprietary system from HP, Dell, Acer, and the like, the optical drive, the power supply, and, sometimes, the memory modules.
Depending on how much you actually reuse, the distinction between the new system and one that’s simply been upgraded is a hazy one. If you replace the motherboard, CPU, memory, and primary hard drive, but keep the case, power supply, optical drive, and graphics card, is that a new system, or one that’s been upgraded?
10. Sell Your Old Computer:
Let’s say your computer is in fair working condition and you really do need a new computer to sell it. Somewhere, someone on eBay, Gumtree, or Facebook Marketplace is looking for a cheap computer. In fact, even if your computer doesn’t work at all, someone may still want it for parts.
Just remember to wipe the hard drive first, if possible. If your computer doesn’t even turn on, you may wish to remove the hard drive and destroy it physically. Somewhere on eBay, someone is looking for a computer.
They may not be able to afford a new PC or are looking for a second PC for the family. Your old PC, at the right price, maybe just be what they need. Assuming it all goes smoothly, everyone wins: you unload your old hardware, which finds a good home with a new user who can appreciate it.
Also, using an escrow site such as Paypal required for eBay anyway gives you a sense of security, as do both Seller- and Buyer-protection on eBay. As we’ve seen, an old computer can have many uses, particularly if it’s still in good working condition.
And not all uses for a PC require quad-core systems with high-end graphics. So if that old system is sitting in a closet somewhere, dig it out and put it to use. Who knows? It might be your PC that identifies the signal that’s the first sign of intelligent life outside our planet.
11. Donate It To A Local School:
If your PC isn’t too archaic, consider donating it to a local school or hospital. Even if it is way beyond its sell-by date it could go to a local school’s computer lab (most schools have one) and be used as a test bed, to take apart and reassemble. Alternatively, local schools might use it for parts, although they may shy away from used gear, given the unknown pedigree or wear of older hardware.
As with selling a system, the final option in this list, you will want to remove all software that you’ve reinstalled on your new PC. And make sure to include all license information for the software you’re leaving installed on the old system. Bottom line: no charitable of the publicly funded organization is ever going to be unhappy that you are offering them a computer.
Even if they can’t use it, they may be able to sell it or use it for parts, and you can enjoy the healthy glow of a righteous person. Some local authorities will provide you with details of local non-profit groups who may accept your PC. And Computer Aid International can send computers to underdeveloped countries, so long as the specifications are high enough.
In conclusion, Now we have used five generations of computers. In future generations, computers have the power to access things like the human brain by taking inputs in different ways. The future generation of computers performs tasks very faster than previous generations and devices may be invisible or smaller in size. In conclusion, computers have become an integral part of our lives.
They have helped to make our lives easier and more efficient. We can use computers for communication, entertainment, education, and business purposes. Computers are used at home for several purposes like online bill payment, watching movies or shows at home, home tutoring, social media access, playing games, internet access, etc. They provide communication through electronic mail. They help to avail work-from-home facilities for corporate employees.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. What can you do with an old computer that works?
Other Ways to Dispose of Old Computers Donate. Some charitable organizations will accept old computers in working order. Trade-In. Many companies offer trade-in programs. Recycle. Recycling programs take your old computer and either refurbish it for use or break it down for recycling.
2. Are old computers worth anything?
Old, non-functioning computers are found in bulk in business closings, school auctions, and even on Craigslist for free. These old computers can contain valuable metals such as gold, copper, and aluminum.
3. Is a 10-year-old computer still good?
If your unit is adequate, can still do the things you expect it to do, and can support your operating system and software requirements, then there ought to be no rush, even if it’s already five or ten years old. But, of course, the quality of your old computer and what you use it for have everything to do with it.
4. Can a computer last 20 years?
Also, many laptops have custom parts that you can’t replace with ones off the shelf. It isn’t a hard and fast rule. A laptop can last for 20 years, and a desktop can fail after only a couple of years.
What is the most valuable part of an old computer?
Computer CPU processors have the most precious metal value by weight, followed by Memory (RAM) & Circuit Board Fingers / Connectors / Pins, then Circuit Boards Motherboards, then cables/wires, with hard drives & whole computers being last.
5. How much gold is in a computer motherboard?
How much is in an average desktop? Magann: A PC circuit board, where the gold is, weighs about a pound. If you had a ton of those boards, you should have 5 troy ounces of gold.