Ten fun things to do with an old computer

recycle computer

If you’re like me, you’ve always got one or more old computers lying around. It seems like a shame to throw them away, but you don’t really know what to do with them either.

Well look no further, and discover ten fun things to do with that old computer!

1) Cannibalize it! Most if not all of the parts in your old computer can be put to use. Install that extra hard drive or Blu-ray drive in your main computer, or maybe even some extra RAM memory if it’s compatible. I even used an old computer power unit as a 12V power converter to run a desktop car radio once. Throw away the case if you need to make space, but never get rid of a functioning spare part.

2) Use it as a guinea pig! You can learn a lot from taking a look at the innards of your computer. Who knows, maybe you’ll get the tech bug and start building your own computers soon. Try to overclock that old processor, play around with the BIOS setting… There is so much to learn!

3) Make a retro game station! The beautiful thing about an old computer is that older games and games from other retro platforms will run a treat. There are NES, SEGA Genesis, Nintendo en DOS emulators that will allow you to play retro PC games and console games on an older computer. If you’re into retro arcade games, check out MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator). You can thank me later. 😉

4) Try out another operating system! Always been curious about Linux? Download a free Linux package and test it out on your old machine. Ubuntu, fedora en openSUSE and Linux Mint are highly recommended for Linux beginners.

5) Help in the search for aliens! NASA’s SETI-project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) launched SETI@home in 1999. If you install this program, your computer will help analyse data received from the Arecibo radiotelescope. It sounds like a joke, but millions of people participate worldwide!

6) Set up a physical firewall! You can use your old computer as a bastion between yourself and the internet by making it a physical Linux firewall. Using programs like Smoothwall, m0n0wall, or ClarkConnect, your computer will be placed between your home network and the internet as a security measure.

7) Did anyone say ‘download station’? Use your old computer as a ‘download manager’ for all your downloads and torrents. This way, your current computers resources won’t be impacted and you’ll be less at risk when you download malware by accident.

8) Make your own Jukebox! Copy all your music to your PC. The only other thing it needs is an operating system and a media player. I use an ancient Pentium II with Winamp as a media player in my garage.

9) Host a personal Cloud! You want a Dropbox-like functionality for all the PCs in your home? Use FreeNAS with the OwnCloud plugin to set it up in minutes.

10) Make a geek’s day! Most computer geeks like myself will gratefully accept if you give them your old computer. What will they do with it? Probably one of the other 9 things described in this list!

If you haven’t found anything you liked in this list, well, I guess you can always make it into an aquarium.

old computer

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