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How to reuse an old Windows PC

Find Other Uses For an Old PC

Dell PCThose of us who have been using computers for a few years often have at least one and in some cases two, three or more redundant computers lying around doing nothing apart from gathering dust. In many cases these computers are still perfectly serviceable.

You may even be tempted to throw them away but don't dispose of them just yet because there are several uses that an older computer can successfully handle.

1. Emergency backup

This is the perfect use for an old PC and it is well worth having a fully configured computer on standby for web browsing, email and word processing, just in case your main computer suffers a catastrophic failure.

If the worst should happen, you could be using your main computer in the time it takes to reinstall a backup. Hopefully you have taken good backups and are confident that they work.

2. A simple home network

Install some network cards, run a few metres of cable (or go wireless) and, you have a home network. You could have computers all over the house, sharing files or a printer and broadband connection.

Simple DIY cable and wireless networking kitscable purchase can be purchased from companies such as D-Link, Intel, Linksys and 3Com. Packages for linking two computers start at £20 or so.

3. Web, print and file server

If you have a home Wi-Fi network and broadband you can set up a redundant computer with a permanent Internet connection so that other computers in the household can always access the web or your printer. This is an undemanding application and ideally suited to older machines that are too slow to upgrade to Windows XP or Vista. Furthermore, by saving your files onto the old PC you have a perfect backup solution, and they are easily accessible by other computers on the network.

Control more then 1 computerLeaving the server PC switched on all of the time is not a problem and you can avoid having to double up on the keyboard, monitor and mouse using a 'KVM' switch, so you can operate both computers from your main PC.

A KVM switchKVM switch is a hardware device that allows a user to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, video monitor and mouse. A common example of home use is to enable the use of the full-size keyboard, mouse and monitor of the home PC with a portable device such as a laptop, tablet PC or PDA.

4. Home automation and security

Home automation is possible using a modestly specified computer and a few plug-in modules.

You could automate your home - everything from the central heating, lighting and laundry to keeping out burglars with PC-based detection and surveillance systems.

5. Trade or exchange

While an old computer is worth comparatively little, it could have value in bargaining against the cost of a new model. Keep an eye open for trade-in offers and promotions. There is no harm asking a salesperson what they will give you for your current machine and you may be able to negotiate a small discount.

6. Take the opportunity to see inside a PC

Check out your PC If your PC is too old to sell, give away or reuse open it up and have a look inside. Computers seem less scary when you know a bit about how they work!

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