Despite everyone’s assumptions, the geek inside you is not always privy to the latest and greatest technology. If you’re stuck with an old, slow, crappy computer, there are a few things you can do to make the best of a bad situation. Whether it’s a desktop computer or a laptop, whether or not it’s broken, and no matter how old it is, it can still be useful to you.
1. SELL THE WORKING PARTS
You can dismantle your entire broken computer or laptop and sell the working parts online. Hard drive, RAM, A/C adapters, motherboards, graphics and audio cards, and even an intact case will get you some cash. It might not make your old laptop useful, but you may be able to save up some extra money to buy those cool headphones you’ve been eyeing for months.
2. INSTALL A LIGHT WEIGHT OPERATING SYSTEM
If nothing seems to workout, one of the best things you can do is install a new operating system altogether. It’ll definitely shake up your workflow, but with enough commitment, you can use one of the many Linux-based OS to give your computer a major speed boost. If you are already familiar with Linux, we will recommend ArchBang, otherwise Ubuntu or Chrome OS might work well for you.
3. TURN IT INTO A WI-FI HOTSPOT
Well, this one of the best things you can do with your old laptop. Turn your laptop into a hotspot for sharing an Internet connection via Wi-Fi. There is a step-by-step guide on Windows XP or 7 and there is also the option of using 3rd party software. Specifically, Connectify. If you’ve already got a router with Wi-Fi, run Ethernet on the laptop and with Connectify you can create a secondary network using the same Internet connection.
4. USE IT AS A DIGITAL PHOTOFRAME
If your laptop’s screen is fine, you can use it to build a cheap digital photo frame. With a working wireless connection you could even make it show your latest photos. There are loads of DIY instructions available online. So, go ahead and experiment.
5. CREATE AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
If parts of your laptop or desktop computer hardware are broken, you can salvage the working parts. So if the hard drive is still working, you can dismount it and transform it into an external and portable hard drive for your new computer. You’ll have to invest in a USB caddy, which can be bought online easily.
6. USE IT AS A BACK-UP MACHINE
Lets face it, in this digital world we are struggling with information overload. The floods of gigabytes have taken over our lives, be it professional or personal. This is where your old laptop can be useful for you. Use it as a back-up machine where you can save your photos, documents and video.
7. HOME SERVER FOR FILE SHARING
Heard about network attached storage? It is like a server for your home or small business network, used for storing files that you share with all the PCs on a particular network. If you’ve got an old PC with lots of storage drive space, you don’t need to buy a NAS, you can make one. FreeNAS is a software program for doing just that, and it’s then accessible by any OS on your network. FreeNAS will also stream media to mobile Operating Systems like iOS and Android and you can even control the user access.
8. TURN IT INTO A GUITAR AMP
You can turn your laptop into a guitar-ripping audio workstation. Using an older laptop that might not have the fastest processor will work for basic MIDI programming by connecting an audio interface and controlling a virtual amp.
9. HOME SURVEILLANCE
If that laptop has an integrated webcam (most of them do), you can put it for a good use. Reinstall Windows XP or higher and grab a copy of iSpy. Use it to monitor the house, employees, babysitters, kids, pets, and more. You can covertly or overtly watch the goings-on via a Web page or apps on iOS and Android.
10. TURN IT INTO A MEDIA STATION
Load all your music and videos onto this computer, if necessary, supply it with an external hard drive. You can now set up your favorite media player, listen to Last.fm, install a TV tuner card, record movies, record music from radio stations, download MP3s, stream music throughout the house using wireless speakers etc.