12 Fun Ways to Use or Repurpose Your Old Laptop

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“Out with the old, in with the new” — this is what people believe and do today. When something new comes out people will spend so must time and money just to get their hands on the new item. This is certainly the case for tech gadgets. If you have a brand new flat screen LCD TV, a new gaming console, a new smartphone, a new PC or a brand new laptop, you’re probably trying to figure out what to do with your old tech. Some may sell them for a cheaper price, some may give these things to relatives who need them and some may just dispose of them. If it’s really broken or trashed you need to dispose of it properly, but if it’s just old and still as designed, there’s no need to throw it away.

Here’s why you shouldn’t trash your old tech. Your old electronics are full of toxic materials and should never make it to a landfill. Cadmium, arsenic and lead are some of the toxic elements used in electronics. If these materials leak into the soil or nearby rivers, it will surely result in long term damage to the ecosystem and may even have a deadly impact on our food or water supplies. Now if you have old PCs or laptops and you don’t really need them anymore, the first thing that you need to do is get all your important information and documents off them. All the important stuff should be saved to your new computer or to the cloud. Everything else that you don’t need should be erased completely. If possible, reformat the whole thing. There’s no telling who might be able to get their hands on your information once you’ve sold it or given it away.

What Can You Do With Old Laptops?

Your laptop may have been your golden child 4 or 5 years ago, but now it just sits in your room gathering dust. If it’s not trashed or broken, there are still a few things you can use it for, even if it’s not on par with current computer technology. Below are some ideas for your old machine:

1. Make It Run Again

If you want it as a backup computer or to repurpose it into something else, make it run well again. You may need to clean the internals, blow the dust off, fix or replace some broken parts and do some software clean-ups. You may need to do a reformat.

2. Web Server/Printer/File

If your old laptop is still in good shape, but too slow for your needs, you can make it a home server. Connect your existing printers to your old computer and set up a network to your new one. You can have a central hub for your multiple computers, you can print from any networked printer, do file sharing and back-ups.

3. Digital Photo Frame

You can make your picture frames high tech by turning your old laptops into digital photo frames. You can Google or check Pinterest for some cool ideas for your old laptop monitor.

Image credit: gizmodo.com

4. Use It As An Emergency Wi-Fi Hotspot

If you have a dead Wi-Fi spot in your house, you can turn your old portable into a wireless hotspot or a Wi-Fi extender. If you need Wi-Fi on a more regular basis, you can purchase a good router or extender, but if you just need it for emergency purposes, use your old laptop and save some money.

Image credit: lifehacker.com

5. Use It To Stream Transcoded Video To Video Game Consoles

Another wise use for old laptops is to make them a media streaming server, specifically for use with a gaming console like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. You may need an Intel Core 2 Duo processor laptop to support 1080p streaming. Another reason for using old laptops is that you will need a dedicated machine to transcode unsupported file types.

6. Turn It Into A Media Center

With your old laptops slim profile, you can convert it into a hideaway media centre. You can take it apart and hide it behind your TV using a sliding rack. It may not be as powerful as expensive audio/video setups but it’s free, sturdy and will not take up that much space.

7. A Second Monitor

If your new laptop monitor is too small for some applications, you can configure your old laptop as a second monitor. You can have a double-sized screen that can split your view or run 2 separate and different images. There is software you can download to complete the setup, plus you will be able to connect one existing external mouse and keyboard to the two machines and swap them back and forth whenever needed.

8. Spare External Storage

If your old laptop’s hard drive is the only part that only works, you can use it as extra external storage. You just need to buy a hard drive external case and a USB cable and you will be able to use it as extra portable storage.

9. Digital Jukebox

Music files, video and picture files can put lots of strain to your new computer, especially if you have a large quantity or huge individual file sizes. Instead of taking up lots of memory and hard drive space on your new machine, use your old laptop as your digital jukebox. Your new laptop will still have much needed hard drive space for more important information.

10. Donate It

If your old computer is of no use to you anymore, you may want or consider donating it to someone who needs it instead. You can choose any charitable organisation that will gladly accept your donation and give it to someone in need.

11. Take The Useful Parts

Take your laptop apart and take what is still functioning. You should be able to get the hard drive and the DVD player. You can buy enclosures for both parts and use them as portables. If the screen is still good, use it as an extra monitor. Ask a tech-savvy friend or a computer store worker what elements of your laptop you should try to salvage.

12. Sell It

If it’s in good working condition and you want to fund your next machine, sell it or trade it in. If it’s already broken you can sell it “as is” or for parts. Someone out there will surely need parts for their own computer or DIY tech projects. Just make sure to reformat your hard drive if you’re selling your old laptop.

Don’t add to the land fill problem; recycle, re-use and re-purpose your old laptop!

Originally published at xenlife.com.au on August 18, 2015.