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This Old PC: 10 New uses for an older Computer

Computers have changed the way we live our lives in oh so many ways, but unfortunately technological improvements have also created a neverending garbage pile of yesterday’s outdated hardware.

This constant cycle of innovation begs the question: what do you do with your old PC now that you have (or are contemplating getting) a new one?

1. Keep your old PC and network it with your new one. Why not make your own Local Access Network (LAN)? All versions of Windows since ‘95′ come with built-in networking capability. All that you need is a cheap Ethernet card for your older machine (your newer one most likely already has one built in), as well as a network cable or hub (switch) with standard CAT5 networking cables. But before you decide to proceed be sure to learn the basics of networking. Not only will it save you a lot of headaches, it will also make the most of the following suggestions.

2. Sure, your old computer may be slower but it just may make a terrific weblog server. If you think you have what it takes to host your own blog then put that old PC to good use and blog on.

3. Turn your old computer into a digital jukebox. If your old computer has a sound card (which it probably does), install music software such as iTunes, or Rhapsody, hook it up to some speakers (connect your sound card’s 1/8-inch stereo plug to a pair of RCA female plugs with a Y cable) and you’ve got yourself a dedicated music machine for your living room, bedroom, office or your den…

4. Want some visuals to go with your sound? Get a video card for your computer (with a Video Out connector) and hook your PC to your television. You can also buy a wireless keyboard and mouse combo to control the action from your favorite sofa.

5. Are you a Musician or the next up and coming Disk Jockey? Then why not turn that old PC into a dedicated podcast server and share with the world. The Beatles and Howard Stern never had it so good.

6. You could set up a network server by connecting your printer to your old PC making it into dedicated printer server. Or you could consolidate files that your household shares and make it your home’s file server (just think: only one directory to back up :).

7. If you want to beat ‘em, then join them. If you’re into PC games, network your computers to a LAN and play multiplayer tournaments at home.

8. Got kids in the house? Then load your old PC with fun, educational software and nothing else. This way your kids can enjoy technology without you having to worry about the appropriateness of what they’re viewing, not to mention the kids messing with your files or applications.

9. Trade up or sell it on eBay. An obvious choice but it could possibly knock-off another $100 or more off the cost of that new dream machine you’re drooling over. Something else to consider is sometimes the parts may be worth more than the whole computer.

10. Don’t want any of the above? Then why not donate your old PC to a local school, a church, or to a charitable organization that helps elderly shut-ins or disabled people connect to the world. Whatever you do, chances are someone could make good use of your old PC so don’t just toss it and junk up our already overcapacity landfills.

Got any more ideas for recycling that old PC? Then why not share it with the rest of us!

Written March 9th, 2007 by | 19 Comments | Filed under: Podcasting Tips ,

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There are 19 Comments so far to “This Old PC: 10 New uses for an older Computer”

  1. hey there bloke, thanks for this great post and a great blog too.

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  2. Yep - I would agree with that.. Thanks for the line.

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  3. I love suggestion #5. My wife owns a mobile DJ company, and it doesn’t take a lotta juice to run something like PCDJ or Sax-n-Dotty’s. It just take a big external hard drive. Everytime I upgrade my PC, I give her company my old one. It massive overkill (who really needs an Intel Dual Core to essentially run winamp?), but it keeps me in new PCs and her in new computers.

    As a testement to being computerized, just last week her office was robbed. They made off with one of her PCs, the three or four CDs laying around, a bunch of mics, and a couple of lights. Unfortunately for the robber (who remains at large), the PC is password protected in the BIOS, the XP username needs a password, and the music is on an external hard drive that she brings home, so while the lights and mics were valuable, the PC itself is pretty much junk. On the bright side, I just ordered myself a new computer today! :)

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 9:36 pm said...

    Sorry to hear about the robbery Tim. Last year someone torched my car and I never got back the insurance money. What’s the matter with these people?

    My family inherits my hand-me-down computers too. Just recently my daughter said “I don’t want your old computer. I wanna new one”. So what I’m going to do is upgrade the motherboard/cpu and ram and keep the old box and screen. I think that’s a reasonable compromise. :-)

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    Reply by: Tim at 5:30 am said...

    My wife’s old DJ computers get handed down to my kids too, but my oldest boy is 14 now and his friends are starting to play the latest, greatest, hottest video games that my 2 to 3 year old systems can barely handle, so I too may be forced to break the cycle. :(

    My wife also owns a photobooth rental company, and last December someone stoled the camera out of the booth. We had it set up in a local bowling alley which had been rented out by a local auto dealership for its company Christmas party. I finished setting it up at 2 in the afternoon and went to the bowling alleys bar to grab a beer. At 4 the girl running the booth showed up to work it. She called me (not knowing I was just upstairs) to ask where the camera was. Sure enough, someone had broke the lock and stole the camera. The bowling alley had cameras, but because we were setup in an out of the way corner no cameras got any clear shots. I didn’t really want to refund the rental fee for the booth, so I called around town until I found the exact model of camera I wrote the software for. It ate up the profits of the rental, but at least the auto dealship people were happy. It also taught me to broaden the range of cameras my photobooth software could handle!

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 3:04 pm said...

    That sucks. Have you considered getting some insurance. Not that it helped me any ;-)

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    Reply by: Tim at 5:38 am said...

    She has insurance, but it has a $500 deductible. The camera was only ~$320 so no use in reporting that to insurance. The computer and mic and stuff that was recently stolen got reported to them though. I don’t know how they value computers, but I have all the receipts from when I first bought the parts to make it so if they base its value off that, she’ll definately be getting more than it was worth.

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  4. yes. useful post. we can use our old pc for many things.we can use it for making network and can play games by connecting the new with old pc.

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  5. What about a pc to play old games. Some games require dos but you can use dos box in order to play them.

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  6. When trying any new software you can use your old computer if you think it to be ok, then you can use or install on the new one.
    Children can learn typing etc on the old computers.

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 3:11 pm said...

    @Harkirat Singh, good idea .. especially for trying out all those buggy Microsoft products ;-)

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  7. I have a very old Dell Optiplex that I bought 7 years ago. Since then, I had upgraded the ram to 4G, changed the drive to a 320g and wiped the XP for Ubuntu Linux (it crashed and sadly I hadn’t the reboot disk or number).

    I was thinking of trying to install Windows Vista OS to upgrade it later to Windows 7 later, mainly cuz I want to run netflix streaming and Microsoft Office (legitimately). Is that possible? or is my processor inefficient? Also the hard drive is an old max blastor 3 I think.

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 8:28 pm said...

    @Encino Locksmith, you might have a problem finding drivers for your old hardware with Vista or Windows 7.

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  8. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read….

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    Reply by: blogbloke at 5:36 pm said...

    @BloggerDude, from a blogger bloke to a dude — Thanks!

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  9. I like the tip no. 10.

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  10. @Harkirat Singh, @Harkirat Singh, good idea .. especially for trying out all those buggy Microsoft products ;-) http://cli.gs/EAV2s

  11. @Encino Locksmith, you might have a problem finding drivers for your old hardware with Vista or Windows 7. http://cli.gs/dWq7R

  12. @BloggerDude, from a blogging bloke to a dude — Thanks! http://cli.gs/BUyzg

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