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Tech tips

6 smart things to do with your old computer

Few industries move as fast in technology development as the home or gaming computer. The fastest RAM or quietest CPU today will be sold at steep discounts as early as next month. It’s a nasty beast and keeping up with trends can be costly.

Eventually, the time will come when your computer just can’t keep up with what’s required. Tap or click here for seven DIY tools for fixing PC problems. But if you do end up buying a brand-new system, you don’t want to throw out the old one. Especially if it still has some life left.

Before you drive to the dump, let’s take a look at some other options. From turning it into a streaming machine or file server, you can still put it to good use.

1. Make a NAS server or a file server

Perfect for a home office, you could look at turning your old computer into a file server or network-attached storage (NAS). Using the hard drive space available, you can store and access documents, images, videos or any other content.

The old computer would be connected to the local network like a traditional computer but set up with the explicit function of additional storage. We’ve covered the topic before, so tap or click here for an easy way to set up a NAS at home.

2. Turn it into a media center

If you have the space in your family room, another option is to turn your old computer into a dedicated media and streaming center. Instead of a computer monitor, you would connect the PC with your television through an HDMI cable.

To navigate your way around Windows, a traditional mouse and keyboard should do the trick. But if you want to browse while relaxing on the couch, invest in a wireless mouse and keyboard. For an all-in-one solution, a wireless mini keyboard has a built-in trackpad. Tap or click here for some of the best keyboard options.

3. Create a private, security-focused hub

The internet can be a scary place, and the less information you expose about yourself online, the better. Big Tech’s grip on technology has many people worried, so why not move away from Windows while keeping your data secure?

No, we’re not talking about the open-source operating system Linux, but rather The Amnesic Incognito Live System. Tails, for short. The free OS is designed to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It allows you to surf the internet anonymously and bypass censorship. And the best part? You run it off a USB.

4. Turn it into a retro gaming console

Yearning for some classic video games? You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars looking for old Atari or SNES consoles — just use an emulator. Turn your old computer into a multi-platform nostalgic machine by downloading and running software like RetroArch.

It allows you to run classic games from long-forgotten development studios and comes packed with several tweaks and interface configurations. As a bonus, you can run original game discs (CDs) from RetroArch.

Speaking of video games, you could also use it as an online game server. Most multiplayer video games use servers provided by the developers. But by creating your own server, you will have control over the game setup and dramatically reduce your latency.

5. Repurpose it in another room

You can repurpose the old computer in a different room, like the kitchen or garage. It can provide some background music while you work on your hobby. And if you need to get instructions or look through a DIY tutorial video, the computer will be right there.

The great thing is that the computer’s case doesn’t need to be visible. If you are going to use it in the garage, as an example, you can have the case in a cupboard or under your workbench. Just remember that it would still need adequate ventilation to prevent overheating.

6. Locally host security cameras

If you have several security cameras around your house, you can ditch the subscription fees and record everything yourself. A commercial camera system usually sends footage of your house to a security company.

Using your old computer to host the cameras, you can run everything yourself and keep footage private. You will save a ton of money on fees, but you would need to get the right software to make it work.

You also need to keep in mind that you would probably need an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to ensure that it stays on if the power goes out.

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