What to do with old computers

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

You most likely have an old pc or laptop computer mendacity round, gathering mud in your attic, closet, or anyplace yow will discover to stash it. You understand it’s additionally not a good suggestion to toss it into the trash. After all, chances are high it runs wonderful; it’s simply outdated. But moreover retaining it round out of guilt, what are you able to do with an old pc? It seems there are many choices accessible.

Here are our prime recommendations on what you may do with your old pc.

Turn your old pc right into a NAS

Synology DS918 Plus NAS with hard drive pulled out

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

If your old pc has a tough drive and the flexibility to join to the web, an excellent useful factor could be to flip it right into a network-attached storage (NAS) system. Basically, a NAS is a spot hooked up to your native community that acts as a spot to retailer all types of knowledge.

A NAS enables you to retailer backup information regionally as a substitute of counting on third-party companies.

A NAS runs its personal working system, and you should utilize it to retailer each native information or as an internet-connected backup vacation spot. It can have anyplace from one exhausting drive to 12, 16, or extra. For the typical dwelling consumer simply trying to flip their old pc right into a NAS, nevertheless, it probably gained’t be that large.

While the specifics could range, listed below are the essential steps you’ll have to take to flip your old pc right into a NAS:

  1. Install an working system that enables the setup of NAS, akin to OpenMediaVault or TrueNAS. Be conscious that some NAS working programs may require fairly strong {hardware}. So, test in case your old pc can really run them.
  2. Set up your chosen NAS working system.
  3. Connect your NAS pc to your property community.

After you arrange the NAS, you should utilize it to retailer information from different gadgets. That makes it a terrific different to issues like Google Drive or DropBox. These steps will range relying in your chosen NAS working system, your property community setup, and the gadgets you would like to join to your NAS.

Turn it into a house media server

The Emby media server software showing "2 Broke Girls" selected.

Similar to establishing a NAS could be turning your old pc into a house media server. A house media server is a central vacation spot that permits you to stream content material from one place. If you’re bored with remembering passwords for each streaming service or switching from one to one other to watch what you need, a media server is likely to be good.

A media server will work finest if in case you have a big assortment of content material saved regionally.

To take full benefit of a media server, you have to have an intensive assortment of content material regionally. This will be content material you’ve (hopefully legally) downloaded or copied off DVDs or Blu-Rays you personal. You technically gained’t want web entry to use your individual dwelling media server, only a native community. Even higher, in case your old PC can run Windows 10, it’s already able to being a media server. After you’ve got collected an assortment of content material, it’s fairly easy to get Windows 10 working as a media server:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Search for “media” utilizing the search field.
  3. Choose Network and Sharing Center > Media Streaming Options.
  4. Click on Turn on Media Streaming.
  5. Select Media Streaming Options for Computers and Devices.
  6. Click OK.

As a results of these steps, any pc on the identical native community can entry your media information saved in Windows 10’s libraries. This built-in performance is fairly primary, nevertheless. If you need to broaden the capabilities of utilizing your old pc as a media server, you may flip to third-party choices akin to Emby or Plex. Additionally, these choices may work in case your old pc can’t run Windows 10 as a result of in addition they work on Linux, Mac, FreeBSD, and numerous NAS options.

After putting in certainly one of these media servers in accordance to their directions, your old pc can do far more than beforehand. Not solely are you able to stream your regionally saved movies, audio, and images, however it’s also possible to add current Netflix or Tidal subscriptions to them. Plus, they provide their very own libraries of on-demand content material which might be free and ad-supported.

Turn it right into a gaming server

The Samsung Gaming Hub on a TV with a gaming chair in front of it in a darkened room.

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Continuing the theme of utilizing an old pc as a server, you may repurpose your old machine right into a gaming server. This will permit you to host your individual periods of video games like Minecraft or Team Fortress 2. This is a superb choice in order for you to have non-public, multi-player events with buddies worldwide.

An enormous caveat to turning an old pc right into a gaming server is that you simply’ll want quick web. That consists of each add and obtain speeds. Otherwise, distant gamers will expertise lag and connectivity issues. However, this doesn’t matter a lot in case you solely do LAN events.

Gaming servers may require some strong {hardware} that an old pc will not have.

Additionally, a gaming server requires respectable {hardware}, so in case your old pc has outdated specs, it won’t carry out in addition to a server. It’s exhausting to say precisely what you’ll want as a result of {hardware} necessities will range relying on the variety of gamers you need to host in your server at one time and the video games you propose to play. Here are some common pointers to consider, although:

  • Ensure your pc has a 2.5GHz or higher CPU.
  • Check that it has no less than 8GB of RAM (ideally 16GB or extra).
  • Make certain it accommodates a high-capacity solid-state hard drive (SSD). Don’t use an old spinning mechanical drive as a result of it would put on out shortly.
  • Install a recent copy of a 64-bit, trendy OS akin to Windows 10 or Linux.

If your old pc has these specs, it’ll do an honest job of being a gaming server for small teams of gamers. The specifics for setting it up will range based mostly on the video games you need to play and the platform they run on. For instance, Minecraft makes use of proprietary server software program. Furthermore, you have to select whether or not you would like to host Java or native Windows 10 periods. Thankfully, Minecraft affords its server software program for each choices on its downloads page.

Steam, then again, makes use of SteamCMD. This is a command-line interface, so be ready to sort instructions. But if that sounds a bit too daunting, you should utilize the extra simple SteamCMD-GUI instrument. Either means, each allow you to arrange servers for Steam-compatible video games.

Use your old pc as a retro gaming PC

The SNES9X emulator on Android running Super Mario All-Stars from the SNES.

If your old pc can’t run server software program and also you don’t require a NAS, it probably nonetheless has loads of life left for different makes use of. In specific, it could make a great retro gaming PC. After all, retro video games don’t require the latest-and-greatest {hardware} anyway.

This route assumes you want retro video games, to start with (or no less than need to attempt them out). As to your choices, one is utilizing the old {hardware} as it’s and discovering video games that can run properly utilizing your current setup, and the opposite is emulation.

Use the old {hardware} as-is

Choosing the primary route includes figuring out what period of video games would run in your {hardware} and utilizing your old pc accordingly. For instance, in case your old pc is from 2008, then chances are high video games from 2008 and earlier than will run properly. The specifics rely upon what you need to play and what your old {hardware} is able to. If your old pc was a middle-of-the-road work PC, as an illustration, it wouldn’t find a way to deal with the sort of video games {that a} disused gaming laptop computer can.

On the opposite hand, as a result of it’s an old pc, you could possibly take into account shopping for old {hardware} like graphics cards and RAM from the identical period from locations like eBay or thrift shops. That would allow you to run old video games at the absolute best settings that might have existed throughout their prime.

Use emulators

The different choice you may take into account is emulation. Emulators are packages that basically recreate a complete console or one other sort of machine in your pc. This may very well be something from a Super Nintendo to a PlayStation 2 and all the things in between and past, like a Tandy PC. Emulators allow you to take pleasure in an unlimited library of software program, however it may be difficult to (legally) get video games. It shouldn’t be technically unlawful within the United States to again up your individual video games so long as you personal the bodily copy, however it isn’t authorized to obtain ROMs of video games. ROMs are mainly the software program information an emulator makes use of to play video games. Without them, an emulator isn’t very helpful. So, you’ll want a set of ROMs of your video games to take pleasure in emulation to the fullest — they usually’ll have to be suitable with your chosen emulators.

Retro software program has safety dangers that it is best to consider.

Whichever choice you select, utilizing your old pc as a retro gaming PC could contain putting in older working programs or utilizing outdated software program. Therefore, it is best to keep in mind the safety threats this entails. Programs that don’t have safety from the newest on-line threats shouldn’t stay related to the web if potential. Furthermore, any bugs or hiccups you encounter will probably not be mounted as a result of the {hardware} and software program makers have moved on — or they could not even exist anymore. Similarly, you’ll typically have to depend on assist and assist from boards, old how-to guides, and different third-party sources of data.

Give it to charity

Lenovo Chromebook C340 at a right angle open with a phone next to it on a table.

Though your old pc could not work properly for you, it nonetheless is likely to be an asset to a charity. Donating your old pc to one may very well be an effective way to maintain it out of a landfill whereas additionally enhancing different folks’s lives.

Before contemplating this selection, there are some issues to consider. Primarily, take into account whether or not your old pc is purposeful. Some charities take solely purposeful computers; others settle for each non-functional and dealing computers. Likewise, the age of your old tech issues, too. Some charities could restrict the age of donations they settle for; others could solely take computers that meet their desired specs. Some organizations would require you to hand over all equipment, too. That may embrace energy adapters, cables, or something that initially got here with the pc.

You ought to guarantee a charity will settle for your old pc in its present situation earlier than donating.

After guaranteeing that a corporation will take your old pc, decide the way you’ll hand it over. Some organizations can choose up your old {hardware}, however that is often just for giant donations. Otherwise, you’ll most likely have to transport the pc, and any required equipment, to them. If you don’t have a automotive, that may very well be difficult.

Some charities to take into account embrace:

  • InterConnection: This charity has necessities that old computers should meet earlier than acceptance. That’s as a result of InterConnection refurbishes donations and makes use of them to assist under-served communities worldwide.
  • Computers With CausesThis shouldn’t be a corporation that straight takes old computers. Instead, it helps you discover charities that can take your old tech and coordinates the method.
  • World Computer ExchangeAnother charity targeted on worldwide entry to know-how, World Computer Exchange is like InterConnection in that your old pc should meet particular necessities for acceptance.

You can even attempt contacting the next native organizations and teams in your space:

  • Your native faculty district: Not all faculty districts settle for donations of old computers, however some do. Some could solely settle for working computers for his or her labs and lecture rooms. Alternatively, others may take non-working computers for his or her store courses or IT departments to use as studying instruments or for elements.
  • Shelters and job coaching organizations: Some shelters and job coaching facilities may settle for your old pc. These organizations could use them for something, together with serving to folks apply for jobs, safe housing, join with their households, and extra.
  • Thrift shops: Your native thrift retailer could take your old pc off your palms. The retailer could not use it for charitable causes; as a substitute, it may promote the pc to another person.

No matter your chosen donation choice, you shouldn’t assume they may take your old pc by default. As talked about, there are sometimes conditions in place. So, name or contact a corporation forward of time in case you plan to donate. Still, donating your old pc is a superb means for it to discover new life and assist others. Finally, earlier than you donate, ensure to wipe your exhausting drive after backing up your information.

Sell it

The word "eBay" superimposed on a smartphone in front a of background using the same colors as the ebay logo.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

On the flip facet of donation could be promoting your old pc. This choice hinges on discovering a prepared purchaser, which can not at all times occur. Unfortunately, folks don’t have a tendency to need old know-how until it’s classic or by some means notable, and the awkward area in between is probably going the place your old PC lies.

Regardless, you may at all times see if somebody bites. Here are some marketplaces you could possibly take into account:

  • eBay: You can listing your old pc on eBay, plus you may take a look at what different folks cost once they listing related know-how to yours so you may set aggressive costs. eBay can even assist facilitate the method with PayPal, which may very well be fairly useful.
  • Facebook Marketplace: Marketplace is a little more of a neighborhood choice, and in contrast to eBay, the complete course of is primarily up to you. That is nice in order for you extra management over interactions.
  • Craigslist: The go-to on-line classifieds web site for years, Craigslist remains to be a great choice to listing your old pc on the market. Plus, it has classes together with complete computers, elements, and common electronics, which could provide help to discover extra patrons.

Selling your old pc could contain extra hands-on effort than donating it, relying on the demand to your specific mannequin. You may attempt creating artistic advert copy to your PC and taking enticing images to catch potential patrons’ eyes. Additionally, itemizing the specs of your machine may curiosity folks in search of specific elements akin to graphics playing cards or motherboards.

Getting your old pc in the very best form potential earlier than making an attempt to promote it could go a great distance in attracting patrons.

Like selling an old phone, you need to put your old pc in the absolute best mild. On that observe, attempt cleansing your old pc and making it as presentable as potential. Similarly, again up your old information and wipe the exhausting drive. This shouldn’t be solely good observe as a result of it retains delicate information out of strangers’ palms, however it additionally makes your itemizing extra interesting.

Furthermore, in case your old pc got here with bundled equipment, software program, or distinctive paraphernalia, embrace these in case you nonetheless have them. The worth proposition may find yourself a lot greater than an old standalone pc because of this.

Recycle it

Old electronics stuffed into a green paper bag with a white recyling symbol on it in front of electronic device boxes.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

After contemplating all of the choices accessible and figuring out that none would work to your old pc, you may responsibly eliminate it. Discarded know-how is named e-waste, and e-waste requires particular dealing with. That’s as a result of it accommodates poisonous substances akin to lead, arsenic, nickel, and extra. All that is to say, don’t simply throw an old pc within the trash.

Like the choices accessible when disposing of an old smartphone, recycling your old PC is best than trashing it. But recycling an old pc isn’t like throwing out your old tin cans and bottles. You’ll have to discover a recycling heart or service that may take it.

Here are some locations you may take a look at to learn how to recycle your old pc:

  • Earth911: This is a free on-line listing of locations you may recycle your old pc in North America. You can search by metropolis, state, and zip code.
  • Retailers: Some electronics outlets like Best Buy have e-waste recycling accessible.
  • Your native waste disposal authority: Some cities and cities could have packages to settle for old electronics for recycling. Check with your native authorities to discover out in the event that they take e-waste.

Like different strategies that contain handing off your old desktop or laptop computer to others, it is best to wipe your exhausting drive earlier than recycling your old pc. You might also have to drop your old tech off at a recycling heart or assortment location. If you don’t have a automotive, that is likely to be difficult.

Frequently requested questions on old computers

Yes, Best Buy offers free recycling for up to three gadgets per family per day (with some limitations). You’ll have to convey your old tech to a taking part Best Buy to reap the benefits of the recycling program.

Yes, however it relies on the place and what you commerce in. Some electronics sellers like Best Buy offer trade-ins relying on the age, situation, and different components of your old pc.


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