At some point in its technological life, your PC may witness how updates to the operating system on which it is based no longer reach it. And the equipment becomes obsolete, unprotected against security problems or unable to support certain programs you need.
It can also happen that, over the years, some hardware functions lose steam, such as the processor that is getting old and is too slow compared to what you can find on the market. Or some of its parts stop working, such as the screen, and it costs too much money to repair to be worth repairing. Although that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other hardware elements of this PC that don’t work.
You can repair or replace certain parts and still use your old PC. But here we are going to find out what uses you can put a computer to when it becomes old or obsolete, before turning it into a few more pounds of technological junk that the world no longer knows what to do with.
- As a networked computer where you can keep a copy of your documents or photos. The hard disk of your PC will probably already have stored many files that you want to keep. You can clean it up and use the remaining space to save backup copies of files, documents or photos that you want to keep on the network. Another possibility is to simply use your hard drive outside.
- Converting it into a web/NAS server. A NAS server is a storage-oriented device with which you can create your own cloud at home. In addition, some NAS also allow you to do other things like setting up web servers, VPNs or even your own streaming service with the content you have on their hard drives. If you want to turn your old PC into a NAS you can, for example, download the FreeBSD-based operating system, FreeNAS, which is free and can run on low-performance hardware. Another alternative for this purpose is the OpenFiler software. It is an ideal solution for not depending on Google in the goodbye of Google Photos.
- Turn it into a retro gaming ‘console’. Your old PC can be the platform on which you recover old video games that you like so much. This is an alternative for nostalgic people. You need an emulator. Another option is to install Lakka on your old PC. This is a lightweight Linux-based operating system derived from OpenELEC that combines existing retro game emulators into a ready-to-install system. This way your computer will be able to imitate consoles like Game Boy, PlayStation or Atari among many others. One of the biggest advantages of Lakka is its enormous ease of use.
- Use it to learn typing. Okay, maybe typing is something that sounds “retro” and now many of us type fast with a couple of fingers or four at most, but many people still value being able to type on their PCs professionally with all their fingers. You can take advantage of an old computer to give this use to your keyboard. There are websites available to help you learn. Also, unlike the opportunities provided by the old typewriters, you can also use your old PC to learn how to automate the keyboard shortcuts offered by Windows to be more efficient in your tasks in the future.
- Give the PC to your daughters and sons to learn how to use it or to watch series. Although the new generations are more accustomed to the mobile or tablets, they will also come to need to manage the use of the PC for the future. You can lend your old computer to your young children so that they can experiment, get to know certain common programs, such as a desktop suite, a photo editor and also so that they can watch some entertainment or educational content. Most operating systems and browsers have parental control functions. And even if your PC doesn’t have the capacity for all your daily activity, it can still handle your children trying to use Word or Power Point.
- Donate it. If you don’t have little ones in the family or they already have their own PCs, donating old computers is always an option. WARNING: Don’t donate something useless. Just offer something that for you is not useful because you need more capacity, while for someone else, who will use it less, it can be very useful. If your goal is also to send it to another country, even more reason to be careful. Is it worth the expense of shipping the equipment you are giving? Many times countries in continents such as Africa have shown that the donations they receive often serve to accumulate garbage in their territories.
- Turn it into a media server with Plex or a storage for Kodi. In this case, especially for transcoding in Plex, not just any PC will do, as the company itself explains. The processor can be old if you don’t need to transcode (up to an Intel “Atom” 1.2GHz”). You can install Kodi or Plex. Your computer would become the multimedia center of your TVs and devices such as smartphones or tablets.
- Use it as a test bench. If you love to try new options with your PC but do not want to risk with a new computer, this is your moment. Take advantage of your obsolete equipment to test new operating systems, new configurations, programs that you do not want to download on the PC you use every day so as not to saturate it, or even investigate some attack that you have received at some point and see the real scope it may have with your own eyes.
- Use it for distributed computing. Distributed computing is a digital infrastructure created to solve computational tasks. This requires several physically separate machines connected to each other. Each machine has its own hardware and software components. Your old PC can accompany many others in the world if you pursue to help altruistically.