Saturday, January 22, 2011

Creative Ways to Re-Use Your Old PC

Unusual and Creative GadgetCreative Ways to Re-Use Your Old PC. Make do and mend is the mantra for These times of ongoing recession,and the phrase is as true of techonology as it of anything else.some of us favour recycled tyres as the material for our protective laptop bags ;other are now more wiling to choose a budget rather thab premium brand for our next laptop.Whether you ‘think green ‘or just need to cut costs,reusing and recycling is an idea few of us can ignore. Creative Ways to Reusable Your Old PC.

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It’s an open secret that technology moves on faster than most of us can keep pace with ,and what’s old hat to one family member may be shiny and slick to another.You might wipe the contents of a cramped hard drive and pass it on to a grateful niece, while you take advantage of the low cost of storage and fit a triple-capacity disk in your PC, for example.That would be far less expensive –and more rewarding-than dumping that old machine completely.
But we’re not just looking at modest upgrades and outlandish recycling ideas.We’ve also got some useful suggestions of what to do with a clunky old PC if you’ve already splashed out on a speedy new Windows 7 machine with endless amounts of RAM and terabytes of storage. Creative Ways to Re-Use Your Old PC.
creative ways reuse your old PC
Chances are that now-unloved PC remains perfectly functional.Unless it really is fit only for the electronics graveyard of your local recycling centre , we recommend taking a look at your outgoing tech to see what it could still do for you.Over the following pages, we outline a number of suggestions to help get you started.
Convert it into network storage or a home server
If you ‘re running a home network and have multiple users, reusing your old PC as network storage or a server may be just the ticket.However , it’s not just a matter of plugging in an old PC to a network connection and starting it up. Most desktop systems aren’t configured to be effective servers or storage systems.For one thing, they probably consume too much power. You’ll want to set the Bios power management to run cooling fans in quiet mode, if that option exits .You’ll also need to set up the operating systems (OS)so that it doesn’t shut down at inconvenient times, yet still runs in a low –power state when it’s not being actively used.
You may want to run your server ‘headless’(without a monitor),and without a keyboard and mouse. While you’ll need a display and input devices for the initial setup, make sure the systems will work properly without them.Having a scheduled reboot hang because the systems halted during startup (it couldn’t find a keyboard, perhaps )is annoying,to say the least.
Also,the OS is unlikely to be well-suited for storage applications, particuraly for multiple users. While XP,Vista and Windows 7 can function well as storage repositories for a couple of users,you’ll want to create individual accounts for each person who might need access.You may also want to set up storage quotas.
A better solution would be to install a proper network OS.One choice is Windows Home Server.However,that will cost you at least £60 or £70, and it may prefer newer hardware.An alternative Iis to use FreeNas (
FreeNas is open –source software designed to turn a computer into a NAS’s based on FreeBSD,a Unix variant.If you’re uncertain whether you want to commit to an unfamiliar OS,FreeNAS can be downloaded as a LiveCD version.This is an ISO file which ,when burned to a CD,will boot off an optical drive and run completely from memory.
Donate it to a local school or hospital
If your PC isn’t too archaic, consider donating it to a local school or hospital. Evenif it’s way beyond its sell-by date. It could go to a local school’s computer lab and be used as a test bed to take apart and reassemble. Alternatively, local schools might use it for parts, although they may shy away from used gear, given the unknown pedigree or wear of older hardware. Consider buying some low cost educational software packages and preinstalling them before handing the system over, but be sure to provide the license information. As with selling a system, you’ll also want to remove any software that you reinstalled on your new PC.
No charitable or publicly funded organization is ever going to be unhappy that you are offering them a PC. Even if they can’t use it, they may be able to sell it for parts. Computer Aid International can also send computers to underdeveloped countries, provided that the specifications are high enough.
Turn it into a Linux PC
You’ve heared about this Linux thing, and maybe you’d like to give it a whirl. But the thought of trying to create a dual-boot system in your primary PC leaves you a little nervous. Now you can experiment to your heart’s content on your old machine.
Check out Ubuntu, the user-friendly Linux distro that geeks love to, well, love. The great thing about Linux is all the built-in support for older hardware, so installation is usually easy. In fact, installing Ubuntu is sometimes simpler than installing Windows.
A wealth of free software for Linux is just waiting to be tried out. If you think you’ve got the tech nous and a bent for tinkering, you might try creating a Hackintosh – a PC tha can run MacOS X. It can be done, but it takes a fair amount of effort. The main Hackintosh site ( is a good place to start, but expect a long and somewhat bumpy trip. You’ll also need to buy n OS X license.
A number of true Unix-based OSes are also available, ranging from FreeBSD or PC-BSD (based on the Berkeley Unix version) to OpenSolaris, based on the Sun Microsystems version of Unix.
Give it to a deserving relative
If a family member has modest computing needs, you may want to consider passing on your old machine. Giving a systems to a family member can be fraught with peril, though. That’s because you are now the go-to person for tech support. So you’ve been warned: give a PC to a friend or relative, and you’re now on call.
One thing you’ll definitely want to do is completely erase the hard drive and reinstall the OS from scratch. If it’s an off-the-shelf system from major manufacturer, restoring it to its original condition from the restore partition or restore disc will accomplish the same thing.
Dedicated it to distributed computing
Want to do a little good for humanity? You could dedicate your old PC to one of the various distributed-computing projects. One of the best known is Folding@Home ( Folding@Home uses computing resources from all over the world to help study protein folding, an essential element to understanding how many diseases operate. If your old PC has fairly new graphics card, that hadware can often pitch in to offer even more computing resources. Other distributed-computing ventures include Seti@Home (, where you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (, which is dedicated to finding new prime numbers.
Use it as a dedicated game server
If you have a favourite multiplayer game, check whether you can host a server on a local computer – you might consider making your old system a dedicated game server. Online multiplayer games often support dedicated servers.
We recently ran a Civilization 4 server for a few months, and are in the process of setting up a Minecraft server. The good thing about many of these dedicated game servers is how little system horsepower they need. We ran a Freelancer server on an old Pentium 4 laptop, at times supporting eight simlutaneois users, with no perfomance issue.
Use it for old-school gaming
Related to the idea of using an older system as a dedicated game server, consider repurposing that box for old-school gaming. Install Windows 98 and you can run older Windows 95 and DOS games, for example. Note that this isn’t as necessary as it used to be – online services such as Steam and Impulse are offering older games that have been rewritten to work under newer OSes, and DOSBox ( lets you emulate a legacy DOS environment to get your classic gaming fix.Creative ways reuse your old PC,
Perhaps the most complete site for older PC games is Good Old Games ( it offers a large number of older titles, and all work fine under newer OSes. So if you’ve always wanted to go back and play Planescape: Torment, now is your chance.
If you want to go really old-school, install multiple arcade machine emulator (Mame) software. That will allow you to play qrcade games and those written for older consoles, provided you have access to the related files run them. Be warned that Mame can become a gigantic time sink, albeit a very fun one. creative ways reuse your old PC
Make it a secondary computing server
If you’re into video editing using a title such as 3ds Max, Adobe After Effects or Sony Vegas, having another PC to help with distributed rendering chores can speed up final renders for complex project. Each application handles distributed rendering a little differntl, so you’ll neeed to consult your documentation. Typically, you’ll install a lightweight program on the secondary rendering system, which will take data and commands from the primary PC and return results when done. The main program on your production system – or a separate manager – handles the rendering across multiple systems.
Set it up as a light-duty living room PC
A small PC in your living room can be used for quick web surfing and to check email. It’s also ideal for the kids to do their homework on when they get tired of being cooped up in their rooms. This can work particularly well if you’ve got networked storage somewhere in the house, so people can get to their files whether their on a personal system or a communal one.
If you do have this type of communal PC, your first inclination might be to create separate accounts for each person. We’ve found that this isn’t really necessary. Since it’s communal, no one really keeps private information on it.
Note that you’ll want security software that’s as bulletproof as possible. Since you have multiple users accessing the same PC, someone will no doubt eventually hit a website that may attempt to download a Trojan norse or other malware.
Strip it for parts
If you’re happy to build your own PC, you could reduce the cost of a new system by salvaging parts from the old one. Good candidates for salvage include the case (if it’s not a proprietary, prebuilt system), the optical drive, the power supply, and even the memory modules.
Depending on how much you actually reuse, the distinction between a new system and one that’s simply been upgraded is a hazy one. If you replace the motherboard, CPU, memory and primary hard drive, but keep the case, power supply, optical drive and graphics card, is that a new system or an old one that’s simply been upgrade?
That will still leave you with a few old computer parts. Which brings us to our next point.
Recycle it
Despite what the song says, it is that easy to be ‘green’ –but it isn’t always cheap. The simplest wa to ditch your PC without damaging your conscience is to visit and find your nearest recycle bank. Your local authority should be able to collect the PC for a small fee, but some will simply dump it into landfill – be sure to ask.
Legally, you shouldn’t have to foot the cost. Under UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, PC retailers are honour-bound to provide take-back facilities for customers to return old equipment whenever a replacement item is purchased – free of charge. The standard and variety of service differs depending on the size of the organization. Some of the bigger ones, including PC World and Dixons, will recycle old electronics if you’re buying a similar product. Dell will collect your old item for free, regadless of brand, when you’re buying a new PC. Others, such as Amazon, will direct you toa designated collection facility.
Sell it
Somewhere on eBay, someone is looking for a computer. They may not be able to afford a new PC, or are looking for a second PC for the family. Your old PC, at the right price, may be just what they need. Assuming it all goes smoothly, everyone wins: you unload your old hardware, which finds a good home with a new user who can appreciate it.
However, it’s not always that simple. For one thing, scammers browse auction sites such eBay, looking to convince unwary buyers to take deposits that mysteriously vanish when they try to cash them. Always be suspicious of seller who list overseas addresses.
Our general rule thumb is to stick to selleing locally or, is it’s on eBay, only in the UK. Also, using an escrow site such as PayPal (required for eBay anyway), gives you a sense of security, although clever scammers still manage to take advantage of PayPal.


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