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Thursday, 13 March 2014


Uses of an Old Laptop

There's no shortage of ways to repurpose an old PC, whether you're just trying to make it work again or turning it into something else entirely, like a home server. Laptops, are special though—due to their small size and all-in-one nature, a bit of DIY work can turn a laptop into just about anything. Here are some options.

1. Get that thing working:

Let's start with the obvious: whether you just want to turn it into an extra computer or repurpose it into something awesome, you'll probably need it to run, which some old laptops don't exactly do well. So the first order of business is to make it run well again. You may have to fix its broken parts or clean out the inside, and you'll almost definitely have to do some software cleanup. If it still doesn't run fast enough for your needs, you might try a more lightweight operating system, like Lubuntu or Chromium OS. Don't worry if you can't accomplish all these steps, though—almost any laptop can be repurposed into something, no matter how old or broken down it may be.

2. Mount it up:

If you don't have use for another desktop or laptop in the house, you might consider mounting it to the wall and turning it into a stationary, single-purpose machine. That could be a digital photo frame, a kitchen PC for calendars and recipes, or even an exercise companion for entertainment. These particular projects are great for laptops that might have a few broken parts—like the keyboard, touchpad, or CD drive—since they aren't really necessary for the final product.

3. Wi-Fi Hot-spot:

If you have a spot in your house that doesn't get Wi-Fi, you can turn any old computer into a wireless hotspot or extender with just a few clicks (whether it's Windows or a Mac). I've used this method with great success before on the rare occasion I'm working in the attic, or in some remote corner of the house. If you need it for more regular use, it might be worth investing in a cheap router or extender, but for those rare occasions, you can just break out the old laptop and save the money.

4. Compact Media Center:

Okay, duh, you've probably already thought of turning an old computer into a media center before. But if you're using a laptop, your options become much more interesting. Thanks to a laptop's slim profile, you can actually take it apart and hide it behind your flat-screen TV on a sliding track—even if it's up against the wall. It may not be as powerful as our ultimate Rs. 30000 media center build, but it's free—and takes up virtually no space.

5. Make a Silent Desktop:

If your laptop's more broken down than most, you can often salvage the insides and keep it running as a desktop computer—whether that's a hidden PC-in-a-keyboard, a silent home server, or even an all-in-one slim PC. As long as the inside components still work, you don't need the trackpad, keyboard, or even the monitor—you can hook up all those separately.

6. Salvage the Monitor:

If the computer itself has seen better days but the monitor works fine, you might be able to detach it and turn it into an external monitor. It's perfect for adding a second monitor to your existing PC, hooking up something like a Raspberry Pi, or anything else you might need an extra screen for.

7. Salvage it for parts:

Sometimes, there's not much else you can do but take it apart and save what you can. At the very least, you should be able to get a hard drive out of it, which you can turn into an external drive with a good enclosure. Chances are the RAM won't be useful to you, though occasionally you can find an external enclosure for the DVD drive. It isn't ideal, but when you don't have any other choice, you have to take what you can get.

8. Sell it!!:

Lastly—and somewhat obviously—if you have no need for that old machine, don't throw it away. If it's in good working order you can sell it or trade it in, but if it's broken you can usually still get some cash by selling "as is" or "for parts." You never know what someone else might need for their DIY projects or laptop repairs. Just make sure you securely wipe the drive before you sell it, and the next time you buy a laptop, make sure you buy one with a good track record for reliability.

These are the few parts that I have in my mind and have even tried out myself, but if you know of any more then you are more than welcome to comment and suggest.

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