15 Ways To Make Your Old Computer Useful Again

old computers

With the Apple’s refresh of the MacBook Air line, computers are very affordable and very powerful at the same time.

Maybe it’s time for you to upgrade. But what will you do with your old machine?

It’s a common problem — keep it or throw it away? Here are 15 ways to bring new life to your old computer after you pick up a new one.

Give it away

Nothing loses value quite like a computer. Find a friend who needs one or give it to a charity, but be sure to wipe the hard drive first.

Upgrade it

Spend a little money on a bigger hard drive and more RAM. That's almost always a way to get some more life out of your older machine.

Use it as a firewall

Odds are that your wireless router already functions as a firewall, but maybe you want to take on a small computing project. There are plenty of walkthroughs to help you set up a dedicated firewall.

Learn Linux

What's the deal with that little penguin mascot? Well, his name is Tux, and his operating system can be installed on basically any machine you have, new or old.

Turn your old computer into a Linux machine to see what all the rage is about.

Build a media server

This is an easy one -- store all your photos, videos, and music on your computer and hook it up to your home entertainment system. Watch movies and slideshows on your TV and listen to music on your stereo!

Make it into a TiVo

Use a free TiVo-style program like MythTV to turn your computer into a DVR.

Keep it on hand for spare parts

If something goes wrong with your new computer, it's nice to have your old one around so you can cannibalise it for working parts.

Make it a torrent slave

Leave it set up and run your favourite BitTorrent client all the time -- it's one less thing you'll have to run on your new computer.

Donate your Internet connection to Tor

Tor is a project that lets you 'donate' your Internet connection to people around the world for the sake of anonymity. These people might be living under an oppressive regime, restricting web access and blocking certain news sites.

Build a small supercomputer

If you have several old computers, you can arrange them in a cluster to combine their processing abilities. Then use them to solve complicated maths problems, render complex video, or play video games!

There is a Linux kernel extension built specifically for doing this, and it's called openMosix.

Start your own internet radio station

It's surprisingly easy to build a music playlist and let people access it over the Internet. You won't have to worry about DJing your next road trip!

Here's a great walkthrough for starting an Internet radio station.

Make a digital picture frame

Whether it's family photos or original drawings, it's easy to show them off with the display from your old laptop.

Search for aliens!

You can participate in the [email protected] project -- all you need is a computer with an Internet connection!

Automate your home

We're going to bring up Linux just one more time -- if you install LinuxMCE on your old machine and wire up some essential hardware, you can remotely control your heat and air conditioning, turn your lights on and off, and keep an eye on home security.

Make an aquarium

For when there's absolutely no other way to recycle your computer.

The Mozilla team is about to reinvent the operating system.

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