You might be tempted to junk that ancient laptop or desktop, yet if it to be created any kind of time in the last decade, you'd be surprised by just how much life friend can get out that it.

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Do you favor to try new things? Nothing will seem newer than a freshly mounted operating system on your old PC—even a downright elderly computer will feel brand new. Mostalternativeoperating solution (translation: not windows or macOS) are based on Linux, which come in a range of choices called "distros." Popular instances includeUbuntu,Mint,elementary OS,PinguyOS, andManjaro. You"ll uncover interfaces comparable to Windows, and also they come with software program packages, likeLibreOffice(a free, open resource equivalent to Microsoft Office). Most work pretty good on pcs with 4GB of ram or more, yet check the specifications needed.

You can want to shot creating your own version of aChromebook—a computer that"s essentially running Google"s Chrome web browser as the OS. Sadly, Google doesn"t offer Chrome OS away, or also sell it. There is, however, the "open source" (but tho Google-controlled)Chromium OS projectbased top top the same code. Even that"s not basic to download and also install. Consumers space told to buy a Chromebook laptop. However, CloudReady: house Edition, which is free for individual use, is one installer that can aid you produce a ChromeBook or ChromeBox. All you need is a USB thumb drive to install it.

You can read a big list of other alternative OSes for actual gearheads in ~ MakeUseOf.


A network-attached warehouse deviceis a server for your home or tiny business network used for storing papers you share through all the pcs on the network (or externally via the internet). Prices differ from a pittance come the hundreds. But if you"ve gained an old pc with several storage drive space, friend don"t have to buy a NAS: make one.

Other software program you can try to do your personal cloud include Rockstor and also XigmaNAS.


Create a Starter computer for far-off Family

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Everyone has that one family member who simply can"t handle the tech. Worse, they can"t handle it and ask for your help. Every the time. You may not also live in the exact same state. Or the same country! Troubleshooting end the phone is for the birds, for this reason what execute you do?

Take her old laptop, nuke the drive, and also reinstallWindows 10. Then lock it down so the human you"re offering it to can"t install any software without her permission. Walk intoSettings > account > family & other users, and clickAdd someone rather to this PC. The score is to do an account for you, theAdministrator, and one for her loved one, who will be aStandard Userwho can"t mess with settings (much). Collection the User Account manage for the account (type UAC right into the Start menu to beginning it). If UAC is off, the standard User can act favor an Admin. Revolve it up as well far and also all the warnings can obtain annoying. You have to collection the balance.

To really limit your family members member"s activity, literally treat them choose a child. UnderFamily & other users,clickAdd a family member, and also you gain the alternative toAdd a child. (Even the son account needs an e-mail invite for some reason, yet you can produce a rapid one for them ~ above Outlook.com.) provide your call number for password backups in case your user (child or not) forgets. Rotate off the advertising and promos, and also you"re nearly set.

Visitaccount.microsoft.com/family/for an introduction of what anyone on your Microsoft Account has actually been doing. Here, you can block websites, select games and also applications, and more.

Want to really lock it down? collection up a feature on the account calledAssigned Access, which puts home windows 10 in Kiosk Mode—you know, like as soon as you encounter a computer at a public place that deserve to only execute one thing. Because that example, set the user account to just have access to a browser. That"s nice limiting, but better than comment tech support questions!

Before friend send that computer off come live with your loved one, download a remote-control program likeTeamViewerorGoToMyPCso you have the right to occasionally take over the mechanism to perform updates (makes certain the antivirus and also anti-malware is always up to date). Much better yet, use it to display your household on their own screen exactly how to perform an easy functions they can"t fathom. When using the computer remotely, make certain tocreate restore pointsfor future repair of the PC when it inevitably gets screwed up.


Everyone"sworried about privacy. There are plenty of tools come make your working computer system into a an ext anonymous workstation because that surfing the web, but if you"ve gained a long-in-the-tooth pc that needs new life, revolve it into a committed privacy computer withThe Amnesic Incognito Live System, or TAILS. Based on a Linux distro referred to as Debian, TAILS can run off a USB speed drive, SD card, or DVD therefore you can take it with you. It paths all your web traffic and also requests thoughthe Tor network.All the combined applications come pre-configured for security, including the office suite, im client, email software, and also of course the internet browser. Various other privacy/anonymity focused Linux distros include Whonix and also Qubes OS (featured in the video above).


Fire up a Hotspot

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Nothing is worse than restricted wireless network access. So revolve that PC into a hotspot for sharing one internet link via Wi-Fi. Naturally, you"ll need a pc with Wi-Fi capability.

To be honest this is more than likely a job much better left to arouter. However the choice exists viaConnectify Hotspot. If you"ve already got a router with Wi-Fi, run Ethernet to the laptop and also with Connectify, create a secondary network making use of the same internet backhaul connection. Connectify Hotspot Pro costs $35 for lifetime use ~ above one Windows-based PC; over there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.

It is also feasible withWindows 10to rotate the PC right into a hotspot that shares your home internet without extra software.


Even if you"re avideo-streaming serviceaddict, friend probably have actually hours of music, podcasts, movies, or TV reflects stored locally, i beg your pardon you desire to accessibility on PCs, video game consoles, tablets, or phones. Because that that, you need a media server.

"Theater software" likeKodiwill take care of that. Download the server software on any maker running Linux, Windows, macOS, jailbroken iOS devices, or rooted Android devices, even on aRaspberry Pi; there are "remote control" apps because that iOS or Android customers not ready to go for broke(n).

Plex(above) has most of the exact same features. The server have the right to install on computers running Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, and also even ~ above NAS devices. The playback software application is available for around every an equipment you deserve to imagine: to apologize TV, Roku, TiVo, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Android TV, Android Auto, Nvidia Shield, Oculus Go, Samsung gear VR, most smart TVs, numerous game consoles, and all PCs and also mobile devices—even top top the Amazon Alexa devices with a screen. Plex even offers some live TV options. (For more, check outThe Expert"s guide to controlling Your Plex Server and also How to Share her Plex Libraries).

To obtain the ideal performance, placed the server software program on your old pc with a clean OS install and also dedicate the device to play media, and nothing else.


Depending on the size of your old computer, it is in it laptop or desktop, it can be simply right come sit out of sight for occasional usage only. Say, when you require a cooking recipes on screen in the kitchen, or as soon as guests room spending the night and also need come look something up. A lightweight Linux distro likeZorin(in the video above) might be simply right because that this setup, as it mimics the look at of Windows and also macOS quite well, so there"s not lot of a discovering curve.


Older pcs can typically handle older games, and there room plenty of harbor of old title that work-related on the PC, and work v your nostalgia. V a new install of home windows 10, you"ll be all set to revolve an older PC right into a dedicated gaming system. Where do you get old games? steam is constantly an option, butGOG.comalso has plenty for you to select from (like the initial 1994 Warcraft!).

If girlfriend run right into problems, read How to run Old gamings on Your modern-day PC.Grab one emulator because that old video game systems like the Nintendo 64 to obtain up and running v really old games. Because that a full explanation, readHow to Play Retro video Games.


Have some mad DIY skillz you desire to placed to the test? take it a down-on-its-luck laptop apart and convert it—into a "tablet." depending upon the system, you"re not going to acquire a touch-screen-quality experience, as the smarts the the system frequently still reside with the keyboard, i beg your pardon you"ll need to tether come the screen in some way. Take a gander at the websiteInstructables, and you"ll find countless step-by-step class on just how to pull it off, including one that willturn any type of screen right into a touch screen. Honestly, it"s more than likely cheaper, and also definitely easier, to just buy a tablet...but where"s the funny in that?(Image viamkarvonenat Instructables.)


This is because that a select few, the proud, the string-strummers. Rotate that ready-to-be-abandoned PC into a etc amplifier. You"ll need a unique cable come hook the guitar approximately the computer via a USB port (tryUbisoft"s Rocksmith real Tone Cable Trilingual, which works not just on Windows and also macOS PCs, but additionally game consoles) and also a download a demo copy ofGuitar Rig 5, an amplifier modeling program. It has 17 room emulations, or you can pay $199 for the big gunsPro versionthat does it all.


Even if friend can"t uncover a useful way to put the computer to use, considercannibalizing it for something else. You"ll view some interesting concepts on Pinterest under the "computer repurposed" heading.


A laptop or desktop can be devoted to one function, likevideo conferencing.A new install that a windows 10 will perform the trick—Microsoft-owned skype is had there and also is accessible via the desktop computer or the browser, but any kind of browser works through services favor Zoom MeetingorGoogle Hangouts. MacOS users also have FaceTime to speak to people on iOS or iPadOS devices. One of two people way, you gain instant access to everyone"s face.


If that old laptop has an integrated webcam—and most of them do—or you"ve gained an elderly desktop computer with a stray webcam you deserve to attach, put that extra eyeball to use. Reinstall Windows and also download a copy ofiSpy. Set the pc up and also let that run—you"ll gain remote accessibility on the webcam to check out whatever"s in check out (and if you"ve got a microphone, everything is said). Use it to monitor the house, employees, babysitters, kids, pets, wildlife, and also more. You deserve to covertly or overtly clock the goings-on via a net page or apps on iOS and Android. It"s totally free to watch locally (in your very own home) v ads; far viewing will expense you $7.95 a month, much more if you set up lot of computers. It"s no as subtle as buying one of our tophome defense cameras, however it"s a lot cheaper.


If you"ve gained an old-school desktop computer tower/mini-tower PC, this is a good opportunity because that you learn what that takes tobuild a PC. Take it apart. Placed it earlier together. See if that still works and try to number out why. Better yet—buy a newmotherboardand part components and Frankenstein that old PC into something new and aliiiive. You"re essentially using the old chassis rather than buying a brand-new case come save all of $100, however the discovering experience might be worth it.


Even the oldest, crappiest PC has plenty of computer power walking unused in that is idle moments. Distributed computer projects—where software program ties together a huge number of internet-connected computers to occupational on computationally huge problems—can put those cycles to great use. Because that example, you"ve most likely heard of(the find for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), a distributed computer project that went earlier to the 1990s. It was spawned at Berkeley and used volunteer computers to analysis signals indigenous space. SETI no longer needs ours help, but other tasks do.

You have the right to visit the page for the software BOINC, which is the backbone for numerous projects. The one we recommend most yet is the crowdsourcing project, which can be set up to aid researchers hit the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19. Collection it increase on that old pc (to hit COVID, choose "any disease" once you pick condition to fight) and also let it run in the background.


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Table that ContentsTable that ContentsReturn come The TopExperiment v New, Lighter OSMake a NAS home ServerCreate a Starter pc for far-off FamilyHack with each other an cotton PCFire up a HotspotServe Up part MediaMake a Guest or Kitchen PCGo Old-School GamingMake a TabletTurn That pc Up to 11Make ArtSave it because that SkypeCreate Your very own Security CamTear it down to build it UpContribute CPU Cycles