Don't Trash Your Old Computer: Here Are 10 Cool Uses For It


Photo: Engadget

Your old computer may feel clunky and outdated when you’re ready to replace it, but there are still plenty of uses for it.Instead of trashing it, turn your old machine into something useful like a file server or firewall.

But if you really think your equipment is completely shot, you can always recycle or turn it into a cool mod or art project.

We put together some cool ideas for squeezing the most out of your old computer. 

Make a media hub for all your content

Your computer may be old, but there's a lot of valuable storage left in it. Wipe your hard drive clean and load it with all your favourite movies.

You can then hook it up to your TV with a VGA cable or use a wireless router to distribute video to any device in your house.

Go green and recycle

If your old computer is too old to salvage for anything practical, don't just throw it away. There are several electronic recycling services that will make sure it doesn't end up wasting away in a landfill. Click here to see where the EPA suggests you recycle.

Tip: Before sending your computer away for recycling, be sure to erase everything from your hard drive. Even though many recycling programs are trustworthy, you don't want your data accidentally falling into the wrong hands.

Help scientists find aliens

The scientists at SETI need all the extra computing power they can get to help them scan the skies for signs of intelligent life in the Milky Way.

With [email protected], you can turn your old computer into a dedicated processing centre for SETI and help them make sense of all that cosmic noise. Just download and run the application and let fate handle the rest. Who knows, maybe your old computer will be the one that finds a message from ET.

Help out with important research

IBM's World Community Grid uses your spare computing power to help research in a variety of fields: clean water, cancer treatments, clean energy solutions, etc. Like [email protected], you download a small application that runs in the background to help with calculations for various projects.

Turn your old computer into a homemade file server

By connecting your old computer to your home's network, you can turn it into a file server for all your PCs. Use it to share files, print remotely, or as a secondary hard drive.

Set up is pretty easy with a router. Just make sure to clear out your hard drive to make space for everything you'll need. CNET has some great tips to get you started.

Make some cash

If you think your old computer could still be worth something to someone, there are several options for selling online. With services like Gazelle and Craigslist, you can have cash in your hand in no time.

Check out our tips for getting the most money for your old computer.

Donate to charity

If you're in a giving mood, there are several options for donating your old computer to a worthy cause: homeless shelters, schools, libraries, and daycare centres will gladly take your old computer off your hands.

Check out for charities near you.

Make a music player

Strip your computer down to nothing but iTunes and an operating system. Hook it up to your home stereo system and you'll have an instant jukebox. If you have an iPhone, you can download the Remote app to control your music library over your home network.

Keep intruders out by building a firewall

Even ancient computers can make pretty effective firewalls. Connect your clunker to your home network and use it to keep intruders out.

Check out m0n0wall, a free application that will help you set up a firewall in no time. It will let you decide who or what has access to your network by requiring a password or banning certain IP addresses.

Make a sweet mod

If you're feeling artistic, use your computer's old case to create a cool mod. Click here to see some super cool examples of iPad mods.

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