7 cold ways to reuse an aged laptop – CNET

January 19, 2017 - photo frame


OK, maybe not this old.

Photo by Matt Flynn

Everything aged is new again. That relates not usually to bell-bottoms and cassette tapes (seriously, tapes are entertainment a comeback), though also your aged tech.

You’ve already schooled how to repurpose an aged tablet; now let’s concentration on that laptop you’ve kept in a behind of your closet these many years. Even if it’s a slow, virus-infested mess, we competence be astounded during how many some-more life we can fist out of it. You substantially won’t have to spend any money, either.

But, first: Assess a condition

First things first: Does it boot? If it has, say, a crippled tough drive, a burst shade or missing/broken keyboard keys, it competence be time for a junk/recycling heap. It’s not formidable or costly to replace a tough drive, though apparently there is a cost.

But if a hardware is still good, you’ve got lots of options. The many apparent one: reformat a tough expostulate and reinstall Windows. (You’ve already changed your information to your new laptop, right?) That’s value deliberation if we have a required media (namely a bootable Windows front and/or peep drive), though it competence not be necessary. In fact, presumption a appurtenance runs an comparison chronicle of Windows, it competence not even be correct from a confidence standpoint. (Best gamble if we devise to hang with Windows: Do a clean implement of Windows 10.)

Let’s take a demeanour during some cold and unsentimental ways to get that aged laptop adult and regulating again.

The aged standby: Install Linux


This is maybe my favorite option, since it accomplishes so many things during once. When we implement Linux, it overwrites (optionally, though preferably) your existent OS, warts and all. In a place is a fast-booting, virus-resistant, Windows-like sourroundings able of usually about anything.

In box you’re unknown with it, Linux is an open-source handling complement that can run thousands of programs — including, notably, bureau suites like LibreOffice and OpenOffice. It can run browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera; games, like Civilization V and Minecraft; mail clients, like Thunderbird; and Photoshop-level picture editors, like GIMP.

Need a module that’s usually permitted for Windows? A apparatus called PlayOnLinux can substantially run it within Linux.

If there’s a downside, it’s that some areas of Linux have a training curve, generally when it comes to configuring certain settings. And we competence confront some harmony issues with outmost inclination like printers.

That said, we highly recommend giving your aged laptop a Linux makeover. The usually genuine question: Which chronicle (or “distro,” brief for distribution) of Linux? There are lots to select from, with Mint and Ubuntu being arguably a many popular, a former entrance closest to replicating a Windows UI.

Not certain how to proceed? Stay tuned for a how-to beam on installing Linux.

Turn it into a Chromebook


Welcome to Chromium, aged laptop!

Photo by Neverware

What is a Chromebook though a unchanging laptop with singular estimate energy and a Google-powered interface that doesn’t need a lot of estimate power?

Thus, your aged laptop should be some-more than adult to a charge of regulating that OS, that is called Chromium. Why select that over Linux? In prejudiced since it runs nimbly on even a many medium hardware, and in prejudiced since it’s Google through-and-through — a fact that competence interest to Android users and others who extract of Google’s ecosystem.

Indeed, if all we wish from your aged PC is a web browser and cloud apps, Chromium competence be your best bet. And there are during slightest dual giveaway and easy ways to get it: Cub Linux and Neverware’s Cloudready. I’m prejudiced to a latter, though it’s unequivocally easy to try both.

Make your possess network-attached storage (NAS) system

If your aged laptop has a flattering atmospheric tough expostulate inside, cruise dedicating it to a single, overwhelming purpose: network-attached storage, or NAS.

It’s not a new concept; a thought is fundamentally to bond a large expostulate to your home network, afterwards make a essence of that expostulate permitted to all your devices: PCs, phones, tablets and a like. Even better, we can entrance a expostulate not usually during home, though anywhere you’re connected. Instead of transfer all your photos to a cloud, we can dump them to your NAS. Instead of storing cinema on your phone, we can tide them from your NAS. Get a idea?

The oldie-but-goodie choice for this: FreeNAS. It’s designed for pity files both locally and online, and it offers media-streaming facilities as well. It runs off a bootable CD or peep drive, from that it sets adult an IP residence for your PC. Presto: Quick and easy remote entrance to a laptop tough drive.

Build your possess home media center


This is a somewhat opposite animal than a media server. The thought is to spin your laptop into a media core that serves your TV, joining directly to it for all from recording promote TV stations to examination Netflix on a large screen.

I’ll be honest: we don’t see a ton of value in this option. Netflix isn’t tough to come by, and many comparison laptops miss a horsepower required for DVR duty. (Plus we need a tuner, antenna, remote, so on.) Heck, if yours doesn’t have an HDMI output, a plan is flattering many finished before it starts.

That said, if we wish to give it a try, check out this educational on setting adult a home media core with Kodi.

Donate a mind to science

Remember SETI@home? It’s still a thing. In fact, it started being a thing so prolonged ago, we competence not commend a name. SETI@home connects your PC to a distributed network, harnessing a processor to assistance investigate radio telescope data. In other words, now your leftover laptop can assistance with a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

All we do is download a Boinc software (available for Windows, Mac and — hint-hint — Linux), afterwards select SETI@home from a list of permitted projects.

If aliens aren’t your thing, Boinc also enables this kind of “volunteer computing” for things like medical investigate and meridian analysis. The usually cost to we is a electricity and (very minimal) bandwidth indispensable to keep a laptop running.

Turn it into a webcam


Admit it: You’ve always disturbed that someone was regulating your laptop’s webcam to perspective on you. Turn a tables with iSpy, an open-source video-surveillance app for Windows. With it your aged laptop becomes a notice camera, one we can use to guard kids, pets, babysitters, a outdoor or usually about anything else.

This could come in unequivocally accessible if we wish a inexpensive approach to keep tabs on, say, a sleeping baby. On a and side, iSpy is giveaway for internal use (meaning within your possess home), though if we wish to perspective your webcam remotely, a use costs $7.95 per month.

Turn it into a digital print frame


For a critical DIY-er, there’s zero utterly so gratifying as stripping down a laptop to a unclothed parts, afterwards branch one of those tools into something cold — in this box a digital print frame. After all, that big, high-resolution shade should be put to good use, right?

There are lots of online tutorials clinging to this subject; we suggest a aptly named Digital print support from laptop on Instructables. It’s flattering straightforward: take detached a laptop, put a shade into a frame, mountain a courage of a PC behind a frame, now regulating a photo-frame software. But there are many other ways to go, so strike adult your favorite hunt engine for some-more options.

Oh, and saying as you’ve already nude it for parts, put that tough expostulate into an outmost box and use it as a USB drive!

Do we have any other ideas for repurposing aged laptops? Share them in a comments!

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