Laptops often become unused or termed ‘spare' when they are replaced by a newer model.
However, instead of letting it gather dust, you can breathe new life into your old laptop in so many different ways.
What to do with a spare laptop
Here are 27 creative and practical ways to make the most out of your old laptop:
Turn it into a home server
1) File server
Utilizing your spare laptop as a file server can be an efficient way to store and share files within your home network. It can act as a central repository for all your digital files.
By installing software such as TrueNAS, you can easily set up and manage your file server.
2) Media server
With tools like Plex or Kodi, you can turn your old laptop into a media server. This will allow you to stream movies, music, and other media content to various devices in your home. It’s a great way to centralize and organize your media collection.
Make it a learning tool
3) Educational purpose
Why not donate your spare laptop to someone who needs it? Many students or individuals looking to learn new skills could benefit from a free laptop.
4) Virtual laboratory
Turning your laptop into a virtual lab using software like VirtualBox allows you to test different operating systems and applications without risking your primary system.
VirtualBox is a free and open-source Type 2 hypervisor that enables users to deploy desktops, servers, and operating systems as virtual machines. With VirtualBox, you can easily install and test multiple operating systems without reinstalling your OS that is running on a physical machine.
To use VirtualBox, you need to download and install it on your computer, create a virtual machine, and then install an operating system on it.
This usecase can be an essential for developers, IT professionals, or tech enthusiasts.
Extend its life as a dedicated device
5) Digital art station
If you're into digital art, turning your old laptop into a dedicated art workstation does make sense.
By installing graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator, you can create a space that allows you to focus solely on your art.
6) Writing station
If you’re a writer, having a dedicated space free from distractions can be vital.
Use your spare laptop solely for writing your content, novels, or any other writing projects. This can enhance focus and productivity.
Leverage it for entertainment
7) Gaming console
Although your old spare laptop may not run the latest games, classic and lightweight games can still provide hours of entertainment. It’s a perfect way to enjoy old favorites.
8) Dedicated music player
Transform your old laptop into a dedicated music player or jukebox. You can organize playlists and albums to suit your mood and preferences.
Implement as a backup system
9) Backup device
Utilize your spare laptop as a backup system for your essential files. Regular backups can save you from potential data loss.
10) Emergency laptop
Keep your spare laptop as a backup, fully configured with necessary software, just in case your main laptop fails.
This can be a lifesaver in emergencies.
Transform it into a monitoring system
11) Home surveillance
Convert your spare laptop into a home security camera system using applications like iSpy.
It can provide you with peace of mind regarding your home’s security.
12) Weather station
By integrating some sensors and using appropriate software, you can turn your spare laptop into a weather monitoring station.
This can provide you with accurate weather updates in your locality.
Create a personal cloud
13) Personal cloud server
With tools like Nextcloud, you can create your personal cloud storage system. It’s a secure way to store and access your files from anywhere.
Utilize it in your hobby projects
14) DIY projects
Integrate your old laptop into various DIY projects, like a home automation system. It can be a fun and educational way to give a new life to your device.
15) Robotics controller
If you're into robotics, your spare laptop can become the brain of your robots. It can control and monitor robotic activities, opening doors to endless possibilities.
Enhance your productivity
16) Second monitor
Utilize the laptop as a second monitor to increase workspace. This can enhance multitasking and productivity.
17) Testing platform
For developers and designers, a spare laptop can be a perfect testing platform. You can test websites or software on different systems and browsers to ensure compatibility.
Make it a financial tool
18) Cryptocurrency mining
Though not highly efficient, your spare laptop can be used for lightweight cryptocurrency mining. This can be an interesting way to experiment with digital currencies.
19) Financial management
Designate your spare laptop solely for managing personal finances. By using software like Quicken, you can organize and track your financial activities securely.
Contribute to science
20) Join a distributed computing project
Contribute your laptop's computing power to scientific research through platforms like BOINC. You can be part of significant scientific discoveries.
Explore other creative uses
21) Guest computer
Keep your spare laptop for guests to use during their stay. It can provide them with internet access and entertainment.
22) Digital photo frame
Convert your spare laptop into a digital photo frame displaying your favorite pictures.
You can use software like PhotoQt or XNView to create a slideshow of your favorite photos.
It’s a creative way to relive cherished memories.
23) Remote work station
Set up your spare laptop in a different location in your house as a remote workstation. This allows you to change your working environment without moving your main setup.
24) Use it as a router
If you have a spare laptop with a Wi-Fi card, you can also use it as a router. This can be useful if you have a weak Wi-Fi signal in certain areas of your home, or if you want to extend your Wi-Fi network to another part of your house.
25) Create a family computer
If you have kids, you can turn your spare laptop into a family computer. This can be a great way to give your kids access to educational games and programs, while also limiting their access to the internet.
26) Use it as a kitchen PC
If you like to cook and follow recipes online, you can turn your spare laptop into a kitchen PC. This can be a great way to keep your laptop safe from spills and stains, while also keeping it close at hand for easy access to recipes and cooking tips.
Donating or selling your spare laptop
If none of the above appeals, consider recycling it responsibly or selling it for parts.
Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to donate or sell your laptop.
Donating your spare laptop
Donating your laptop to a non-profit organization or charity can be a great way to help others.
There are many organizations that accept laptop donations, including schools, libraries, and community centers.
Before donating your laptop, make sure it is in good working condition and that you have erased all of your personal data from the hard drive.
When donating your laptop, you may be able to receive a tax deduction for your donation. Be sure to check with the organization to see if they are able to provide you with a receipt for tax purposes.
Selling your spare laptop
If you prefer to sell your laptop, there are many options available. You can sell it online through websites like eBay or Craigslist, or you can sell it to a local computer store or electronics retailer.
Be sure to erase all of your personal data from the hard drive.
You also want to research its value to ensure that you are getting a fair price.
Overall, whether you choose to donate or sell your spare laptop, you can feel good knowing that you are helping someone else while also getting rid of something that you no longer need.
Upgrading your spare laptop
Let’s back up alittle bit. Before you can reuse your old laptop efficiently for all the above cases, you might need to update it.
Upgrading your laptop can be a cost-effective way to get more out of your device without having to buy a new one.
Here are some hardware and software upgrades you can consider for your spare laptop:
Upgrading your laptop's RAM can significantly improve its performance. If your laptop is slow and takes a long time to load programs, upgrading the RAM can help.
Check your laptop's specifications to find out how much RAM it can support. You can then purchase RAM modules that match your laptop's specifications.
Installing RAM is usually a straightforward process that involves opening up the laptop's back cover and slotting the RAM modules in.
Upgrading your laptop's storage can also improve its performance. If your laptop has a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), you can upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD) for faster boot times and program loading speeds.
SSDs are also more reliable and durable than HDDs. If your laptop already has an SSD, you can upgrade to a larger capacity SSD to store more files and programs.
Upgrading your laptop's processor can improve its overall performance. However, this can be a challenging and expensive upgrade that requires technical expertise.
You'll need to make sure that the new processor is compatible with your laptop's motherboard and that you have the necessary tools to install it.
Upgrading your laptop's operating system can give it a new lease of life. If your laptop is running an older version of Windows, you can upgrade to the latest version for new features and security updates.
Alternatively, you can switch to a Linux-based operating system like Ubuntu or Mint for a faster and more lightweight experience.
Drivers and updates
Make sure that your laptop's drivers and software are up to date to ensure optimal performance. Check your laptop manufacturer's website for the latest drivers and updates for your laptop model.
Upgrading your spare laptop can be a fun and rewarding experience. With the right upgrades, you can breathe new life into your device and enjoy faster performance and improved functionality.
Your old spare laptop is far from being a useless device.
With a little bit of DIY, your old laptop can be repurposed into something useful. Whether you want to create a home server, a media center, a gaming PC, a web server, or a surveillance system, your old laptop can be a great solution.