image courtesy of the National Museum of Computing
We all know that technology moves at a very rapid pace nowadays. Nowhere is this truer than in computers. Every year we get double the RAM, bigger hard disk storage, faster graphic cards, and ever-increasing CPU speeds. The once state-of-the-art computer you had just a few years ago is now considered a dinosaur. And you can only update your system’s hardware so much before soon coming to realize that a newer computer will make much more financial sense than continuing to invest on upgrades for your old one.
But don’t dispose of your old PC just yet! That old thing may still have some use or salvageable parts that you can re-purpose. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Re-Using Your Old PC’s Hard Drive
Have you got a healthy amount of movies, music, and games that you’ve managed to accumulate over the years (and can’t get yourself to let go of?). Instead of buying another hard drive to store them why not use the one on your old PC instead?
You can also use your old hard drive as a backup device. Save your most important files and programs without needing to spend another cent for more storage.
Here is an excellent video tutorial to get you started on the basics of installing a second hard drive into a new PC.
And just for kicks, a similar video tutorial with a Siri voice over
Extra Tip: You can also buy a hard drive enclosure to turn your old internal Hard drive into a portable external storage instantly.
Now let’s say you have a couple of hard drives laying-around, and the idea of a server pop’s into your head (maybe for your home or office), with your newfound skill in hard drive installation why not…
Turn Your Old PC into a Server
Servers are useful. You can set one up for your home and have important files easily accessible and shared via your home or local network. You can also setup one up as a web server for your business to record important data. The thing is, a brand-new server can cost you an arm and a leg. Fret not, as that old computer can do just the trick. Below is a video tutorial to turn your old PC into a bonafide server.
Extra Tip: Follow this tutorial if you want to build a web server to host your website out of your old system instead. ( Turn an old Computer into a web server!”)
Convert Your Old PC into a Router and Firewall
If you managed to turn your old rig into a server then you might be more confident (cocky even?) with your computer skills, so why not take it further and turn an old PC into a router and firewall all-in-one? You’re certainly going to need it to keep your new server and network secured. It would even be better if you have another old computer available.
This tutorial will give you easy, step-by-step instructions on how to this.
Tutorial: Turn an old computer into a powerful firewall and router
Re-Purpose Your Old PC’s Power Supply
Benchtop power supplies can be very expensive (can be as much as 180 USD). But you know what is not expensive? that power supply unit inside your old computer, which you can turn (with a bit of know-how) into a working Benchtop power supply module. If you would want to make your own, follow the instructions on the tutorial below. Word of caution: When working with electricity, always keep a healthy amount of wits about you. You wouldn’t want to burn your house down now would you?
Bring Some Life Back to Your Old PC with Linux
Do you hate the idea of your old (but still beloved) computer just sitting in storage and gathering dust? Don’t want to give it away or refuse to dismantle it or do anything else but keep it in its current condition?
How about making it useful again? Linux is a very popular and free alternative operating system that is almost as good as Windows (some would argue it is even better) and does not require high-end hardware to run. A great way to resurrect your old system! Here is a video tutorial to guide you.
Hopefully the above tips and tutorials will help inject new life into your aged PC and save you some money. And if all else fails, well, I am pretty sure there’s always someone who will be interested to buy your PC on eBay.