Nine practical ideas to keep an old or obsolete computer useful

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 is becoming obsolete, no protection to security issues or unable to support certain programs you need.

It can also happen that, over the years, some hardware functions lose steam, like the processor that is getting old and is too slow compared to what you can find in the market. Or that some of its parts stop working like the screen and that it costs too much money to repair to be worth repairing. Although that does not mean that there are not other hardware elements of this PC that do not work.

You can repair or change certain parts and keep using your old PC. But here we are going to know what uses can be given to a computer when it becomes old or obsolete, before turning it into a few more kilos of technological junk that the world no longer knows what to do with.

Ideas to give an alternative use to your PC

old computer

  • As a network computer where you can save a copy of your documents or photos. Your PC’s hard drive will probably already have a lot of files stored that you want to keep. You can do a cleaning and take advantage of the remaining space to store backup copies of files, documents or photos that you want to keep online. Another possibility is to simply use your hard drive outside.

  • Convert it into a web server / NAS. A NAS server is a storage-oriented device, and with which you can create your own cloud at home. In addition, some NAS also allow you to do other things such as mounting 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 to not depend 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 the nostalgic. 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 one ready-to-install system. So your computer can 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, typing may be something that sounds “retro” and that now many of us write fast with a couple of fingers or four at the most, but many people still value being able to write on their PC in a professional way with all their fingers. You can take advantage of an old computer to give its keyboard this use. Websites are available to help you learn. In addition, unlike the opportunities offered by the old typewriters, you can also use your old PC to learn to automate the keyboard shortcuts that Windows offers in order to be more efficient in your tasks in the future.

  • Give the PC as a gift to your daughters and sons so they can learn to operate it or watch series. Although the new generations are more used to mobile phones or tablets, they will also 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, learn about certain common programs, such as a desktop suite, a photo editor and also so that they can take the opportunity to see some entertainment or educational content. Most operating systems and browsers have parental control functions. And even if your PC does not have the capacity for all your daily activity, it can surely continue to support your children trying to handle Word or Power Point.

  • Donate it. If you don’t have little ones in the family or they already have their own PCs, one option is always to donate the old equipment. EYE! Don’t donate something useless. It only offers something that is not useful for you because you need more capacity, while for someone else, who is going to use it less, it can be very useful. If your goal is also to send it to another country, all the more reason to be careful. Is it worth the expense of shipping the equipment you are giving? Many are the times that countries on continents such as Africa have shown that the donations they receive on many occasions serve to accumulate garbage in their territories.


  • Make it a media server with Plex or a warehouse for Kodi. In this case, especially for transconditions in Plex, not just any PC will work, as the company itself explains. The processor may 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 televisions and devices such as smartphones or tablets.

  • Use it as a test bed. If you love trying new options with your PC but do not want to risk with a new equipment, 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 that you use daily so as not to saturate it, or even investigate an attack that at some point you have received 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, such as helping the CSIC. This requires several physically separated and interconnected computers. Each machine has its hardware and software components. Your old PC can accompany many others in the world if you seek to help altruistically.

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