We all have old tech lying around in varying states of functionality. Chances are, you have an old laptop lying around. It’s slow, slow enough to make even the most patient person want to break something. But, just because it’s seen better days, and it’s past the point of upgrading old laptops can still be very useful if get creative with them.
Create a media server
You have a ton of films and music that you *cough* “found” *cough* but you really don’t want to keep moving them around. One solution is setting up a media server, which lets you access your files remotely. What this does is essentially act as your own personal Netflix. There are a lot of different programs you can use, one of the most popular is Kodi. It’s opensource, so it is completely free.
Use it as a NAS Drive
Network attached storage, or NAS drives, are just what they say on the tin. NAS drives are hard drives attached to your network, allowing you to access them from other computers. They do need some processing power to handle the transfer of data, but that’s nothing an old pc can’t handle. NAS drives are useful for setting up media servers, or if you tend to work on multiple computers. FreeNAS is a very popular operating system for setting up NAS drives.
Experiment with different Operating Systems
Chances are your old laptop is running Windows. While Windows is great for most users, it’s not the most recourse friendly operating system. You might have heard of Linux, but thought it to be something only used in servers or by hardcore programmers. While you’re not exactly wrong, Linux uses fewer resources than Windows, making it ideal for low power laptops. The two most commonly recommended flavours of Linux are Ubuntu and Mint. Both are opensource, meaning they are completely free to download. You can also modify them if you have the know-how, or have a few hours to kill on Google.
Game Retro Style
Many older games, and even some modern titles take up very little power to play. Fallout, Doom, Diablo, FTL: Faster Than Light (A game which I cannot recommend enough), Papers please, Into the Breach, Hacknet and more. GOG.com even has some DOS games on offer (before the days of fancy point and click interfaces). You can even set up emulators, which let you run games from older consoles.
“Donate” it to science
Some researchers will let you donate your processing power to help solve problems. So your old laptop can run in the background, and help advance science. One such initiative is [email protected] which will use your processing power to analyse signals from space. Think about it, your laptop could be the one that processes our first contact with aliens! (let me dream).
Bonus: Tear it down
You can either tear it down for parts; you can salvage RAM or a hard drive. Or, my own personal favorite solution for old tech, completely tear down your laptop and put it back together again. First of all, this will teach you how to take apart laptops. This is useful if you need to upgrade your new laptop, or to fix it if something goes wrong. Finally, it’s incredibly satisfying putting something back together again and having it work.
Have any other projects in mind for your old laptops? let us know in the comment section below.