Repurposing Old Computers

It would be great if we never had to replace our computers because they are no longer able to perform the day-to-day tasks that we ask of them. When computers reach the end of their usefulness, they are replaced with newer and faster machines. But, what happens to that old computer that was just replaced? Most of the time that outdated computer ends up getting tossed in the trash or stored in a closet to collect dust. However, with a little bit of creativity and tech savvy, there are ways to breathe new life into those obsolete computers and have them provide a useful function rather than take up space.

One possible use of the old computer would be converting that machine into a network attached storage device or simple file server, used for centralized sharing of files between other computers on your network. This machine could provide another location to store less important data that resides on your network and to help free up space and resources on your main file servers.

The old computers could also be converted into a light-weight computer called a thin client. In a business environment, these thin clients provide the basic resources to connect a user to a more powerful server where users will perform their daily tasks much faster than they would on the old computer. Utilizing the old PC as a thin client helps cut costs and maximizes the investment in the old computer.

There are a number of free and open source applications that can be installed on the old computers that change their roles completely from a desktop computer. There are applications that provide SPAM filtering and web content filtering on the network.  There are applications that can convert your old computer into a video security system. These computers can even be used as a fax server, print server or web server.

If the aforementioned uses for the old hardware are not viable options, these machines could always be used as spare workstations, used in a training lab or test environment, or even donated to a local organization that is in need of working computer equipment.

The possibilities are almost endless for what you can do with your old computers. The most important thing to keep in mind is that just because the computer is no longer able to keep up with the ever-changing demands that are put on it, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be useful.

Ryan’s articles can also be seen in Berkshire Business News, published monthly by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce.