4 Cool Hacks to Save Your Old Laptop

Who doesn’t love getting a new laptop? If you’re anything like me, though, you’ll feel a sharp pang of guilt as you get ready to relegate your old faithful to that dusty cupboard. I can’t help but take a minute to pay tribute to the old guy that has gotten me through so much. All the memories I shared with it. All the laughs and heartache. I knew it’s quirks and how to get the best out of it.

To combat my sentimentality, I have compiled a list of the 4 best uses that I can come up with to still give that old laptop the little bit of life it deserves.

1. Use your old laptop as a media server


Most of us have some level of network and entertainment setup in our homes. If you have an old laptop with a lot of leftover hard drive space you can connect it to your home network and turn it into a Media Streaming server! I’ve always believed that this is one of the coolest things you can do with an old computer. Check out this link on how to turn your old PC into a Plex server.

2. Install a low resource, Linux-based OS


If you like tech-tinkering, formatting and installing a low resource Linux distro will make your laptop feel like a brand new machine. There is a lot of satisfaction in installing, debugging and learning about Linux-based software. If you have kids, get them involved! Edubuntu is an amazing lightweight OS designed to teach kids about server commands and software environments at a grassroots level. Once you have mastered the basics, a whole world of open source possibilities will reveal itself to you. Here is a list of 10 of the best low resource, Linux-based distros that are free to download.

3. Use it as a WiFi extender

Do you have a big house with thick walls? Or a braai area far enough from your router to make streaming tunes impossible? Turn your laptop into a WiFi extender with a WiFi USB adapter and free 3rd party software. This might even boost your WiFi network to a level where you could share it with your neighbour’s neighbour! Just kidding. Here’s a cool link on how to set it up.

4. DIY Digital Photo frame


This is my personal favourite. An “I don’t mind if I screw this up” attitude will help you dismantle your old laptop and turn it into a really cool, really wide, digital photo frame! Breaking out some of your hidden woodworking talents will help make this a stylish addition to your living room. I’ve founds hundreds of tutorials on the web, but this Instructables post seems to be the most detailed.

Do you want to add to this list or tell me about a project you attempted with your old laptop? Would you like me to try out and write about one of the suggestions above? Let me know in the comments! I’m always up for a challenge.