Making Use of an Old Laptop
So you have a brand new computer? Great! What happens to your old one? Garage? Attic? Scrapyard? There are a few things that you could do with that old machine, so that will be the focus of this week’s Modern Nerd. Laptop computers are the best for computing recycling, since they are portable and can be integrated into media centers or entertainment systems, but that’s coming up in the next section. Let’s take a look at all of our options.
Option 1: Strip it for Parts
Computers have a few parts that can be put into a new rig, but they also have a few things that won’t transfer anywhere. Hard drives are the best example, as they can add to a desktop’s storage space, even though they are not the same size. The SATA connection port and the power port are universal. RAM from a laptop will not transfer, especially if it is of the older variety. However, option 1 is not the greatest because so few of those older components have value outside of your laptop.
Option 2: Network Drive
You could set up that same old laptop on your network, and store your music and videos on it. Shared folders with Windows 7 and a homegroup can give you a central point to grab your stuff remotely. This will require a working internet connection, and a way to control your laptop remotely. This will be explored later, but this option can give you an always-on hard drive assuming that the other systems on your LAN or home network are running the same operating system.
Option 3: Streaming Computer
My favorite option involves setting up your laptop on your TV. New, modern TV’s have RGB or DVI or HDMI input. You can use that video cable combined with a cheap audio cable to give your TV setup Netflix, streaming internet content, YouTube, all without a monthly subscription (unless you are going in for Netflix). All you will need is a remote, so let’s look at the prep list that you will have to do to make this work.
Prep Work to Speed Up the Old Beast
Old computers have problems. They are slow and can be unreliable, but that’s going to be expected from the amount of stuff that gets put on them. Wiping the hard drive and reinstalling the operating system is the best first step, and from there, ONLY ESSENTIALS. Don’t put excess crap on a streaming computer or a music storage computer. It’s not necessary and will only hurt your system. For what you need, an older laptop will play videos and stream music just fine. You can get the laptop to play without opening the lid or lighting up the laptop screen (Windows-P, check it out). If you choose to go that route you’ll need a smartphone to connect to the computer and start and stop videos for you. A 2 dollar app like Splashtop is a good choice here.
Not Dead, Just Retired
Your old computer served you well for a reason. Don’t abandon it immediately, remember that. If you can make more use of it, then it will be worth more than the 50 bucks that you are going to get from someone who wants it. Remember that computers are wonderfully capable of all kinds of interconnection.
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