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How to Make Use of an Old Laptop

Updated on September 1, 2012

This hub is dedicated to a discussion of finding uses for old laptops. Maybe you have one laying around or sitting burried in a closet somewhere, but just can't bring yourself to get rid of it. Here are some ideas that may help you make some use of it.


How old is the laptop?

How old the laptop is will pretty much dictate what exactly you will be able to do with it. Check your unit to find out the following:

  • Proccessor Type and Speed
  • Amount of RAM
  • Hard disk size
  • Video Memory (sometimes useful to know)

Another thing that is important, is the condition of the unit. If it is broken or having hardware related issues. If this is true, you will be limited as to what you can do with it.

Here are some suggestions for use of your old laptop. I'm sure there is more, just use your imagination!

1.) Learn a new operating system

You might have been wanting to learn to use a distribution of Linux or other operating system, but have been unwilling to reformat your primary computer to do so. Having an old laptop around gives you the perfect opportunity to do this. Make sure that your laptop meets the minimum specs to do so. Linux is very forgiving. You can go to http://www.linux.org for information and downloads.

Ubuntu Linux
Ubuntu Linux

2.) Use it as the Ultimate Cookbook

I keep a spare latop in my kitchen with Windows XP and wireless connectivity to search for recipes and such. This is very handy since you will have access to cooking videos and numerous cooking sites on the internet. The laptop won't have to be very powerful to do this and you can even run Linux.

3.) Excellent Garage Tool Addition

I use a laptop frequently in my garage. I would rather do a repair myself than pay a garage. Sometimes however, I get a bit stuck on how to perform a particular repair. Having a laptop with internet access on my workbench takes care of this very nicely. Again, no need for a lot of power and Linux is still fine. There are even some diagnostics kits that you can interface between your car and the laptop to check the vehicles onboard computer.

4.) In Car Mod

Having computers in automobiles is gaining popularity as they get smaller. If you are one of those people that just can't be with out a computer, this may be an option for you. You can either leave the laptop as is and get a mount for in the car, or, if you are a daring individual that likes to tinker, you can mod the laptop and integrate it into the car. This would require decent electronics skills. As a plus, you can add a thirty dollar USB GPS reciever and have an onboard NAV system.

5.) Steampunk Mod

This is more of an art than anything else. If you are into something REALLY different, then this might be an option. The laptop would still be usable, but could also sit nicely in a living room or sitting room and look very at home amongst decorative furniture. Steampunking seems to be gaining a large following.

6.) Make a Robot

There are several kits available that let you build a small mobile robot and mount your laptop to it. Some can be controlled by the laptop itself or wirelessly receiving commands. I have seen these at http://www.tigerdirect .com

7.) Use it for a Doner

If your laptop is either too damaged or too old to be used for the above, you may be able to salvage it for parts. Hard drives, memory and sometimes CD Drives can often be salvaged to repair other units. You may also be able to put the LCD screen to good use somewhere.

8.) Give it to someone less fortunate

Give to the less fortunate - If you really aren't interested in using the laptop anymore and don't want to put anymore effort into it, there are many people out there that would jump at the opportunity to have one. Give it away or sell on the cheap. It'll make someones day!

Closing

Now, no matter how you look at, there is a lot more life in that old laptop than you previously thought I'd guess. Use your imagination and be creative. If you have a cool use for a laptop that is not listed here, post it in a comment for other readers to see.

Thanks for reading!!!

Protected Under US Copyright © Eric D. Hartman
All Rights Reserved

This document may not be reproduced.

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    • profile image

      me 4 years ago

      nice!

    • leakeem profile image

      leakeem 4 years ago from Earth

      Cool! thanks!

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 4 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      @leakeem - If it's a basket case, I would suggest posting it on craigslist or other local classified for $25 or so. You'd be surprised how many people would jump on it for the parts no matter how outdated.

      Cheers!

    • leakeem profile image

      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for the info.

      Unfortunately, my old neo laptop had a problem with its power supply or something. After using it with a poorly tinkered charger, it stopped working - it won't turn on anymore. So the only things I can get off the laptop are hardware which is severely outdated.

      I guess there's nothing else I can scavenge out of it.

      Thanks again!

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 5 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      @leakeem - If it's a SATA hard disk, there are USB enclosures available online pretty cheap. Look on Amazon or Ebay. You should be able to pick one up for just around $15 USD. As for the laptop itself, if it is still functioning, you should still be able to run Linux on it. A light distribution would still be good for general web browsing.

      Thanks for reading!

    • leakeem profile image

      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      Cool Ideas. But what about for older laptops? I have a Neo 500MHZ, some really old stuff. I managed to pull off the RAM but I found out it's too outdated - no laptop uses that kind of ram anymore. Hard drive is still intact though I have not tried it yet. Any ideas on how to connect an old SATA hard drive from a laptop to another PC? like a USB adapter/converter or something?

    • leakeem profile image

      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      Cool Ideas. But what about for older laptops? I have a Neo 500MHZ, some really old stuff. I managed to pull off the RAM but I found out it's too outdated - no laptop uses that kind of ram anymore. Hard drive is still intact though I have not tried it yet. Any ideas on how to connect an old SATA hard drive from a laptop to another PC? like a USB adapter/converter or something?

    • Marchi profile image

      Marchi 5 years ago from Australia

      Very smart, indeed!!

    • profile image

      whackypc 5 years ago

      awesome post, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      jlcustompc 5 years ago

      Good article!

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 5 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      LOL! 'person': Thanks for catching that! I had bullets 3 & 4 reversed. It's fixed now.

      Thanks again!

    • profile image

      person 5 years ago

      there is no number 3

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 5 years ago

      These are some very cool ways to make use of an old laptop. I must say that some of these tricks are not for the technically challenged. Nonetheless, the one with the robot and the In Car Mod look really cool. Awesome hub!

      Princesswithapen

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      @Debby Bruck.if you have personal info on your hard disk..the best way is to keep it for life or, as you put it rightly, blast them to smithereens

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      I thought you would get a chuckle out of that one! I have too many dead computers lying around. I need someone with a sledge hammer to blast them to smithereens. I have all the personal info on them and have just accepted to say, "bye-bye" to all that info. Blessings to the king of computers. Debby

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 5 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      @Debby Bruck - The laptop is definitely best when it at least turns on LOL!!! Depending on where you live, I would be willing to take a look at it if you wanted to ship it. Just a thought...

      Thanks for reading.....again!!! :)

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Eric ~ Very creative ideas. Does the laptop have to turn on?

      I think only tinkerers, inventors and folks who like to recycle will attempt many of these suggestions. I wish someone in the know, lived near-by who could show me how to do this stuff. All the best, Debby

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 5 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      @Greatstuff - As far as home security goes, this may be a plausible solution for a very basic system to run aor monitor cameras and maybe even some motion detection to trigger an alarm. I would recommend running the laptop with a light distribution of Linux to accomplish this. Great idea!

      Thanks!

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      You have very interesting ideas that i have never thought of. While reading your article, using it as part of your home security system came to my mind..will it work?

    • mayank5790 profile image

      mayank5790 5 years ago from In

      I liked the idea of making it into something exotic like you did in tip 5 :D

    • ChilliWilly profile image

      ChilliWilly 6 years ago from Kaunas, Lithuania

      Great information here, nice job.

    • profile image

      Harvey m23 6 years ago

      Excellent stuff

    • HubbyHubberton profile image

      HubbyHubberton 6 years ago

      Thanks for these great ideas. I work at home and have 4 laptops, now I will use some of your ideas and put the old ones to good use.

    • sawboyrick profile image

      sawboyrick 8 years ago from Kaysville, Utah

      I had a desktop that my kids managed to virus-up to the point that it was unusable. I went to www.ubuntu.com and downloaded their Linux OS. you download the file, then you execute it, and it burns a cd for installing. Now that laptop is my favorite in the house. Linux is really nice, and FAST! Good luck!

    • profile image

      newsworthy 8 years ago

      I really like your ideas of putting old laptops to good use. I would have passed it on to another but never thought to use it for cookbooks. What a bright idea. As for laptop art, I've never heard of steampunking. That's so unique. Mine would have pink patent leather, like my shoes.

      With Linux, I've heard about it for years but never used it. Perhaps one day I can try it with my old laptop.

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 8 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      negacrowbar, sound like an ideal time to try a distribution of Linux. It's much less affected by viruses and malware since it's not mainstream like Windows or MAC. Just a thought. If nothing else, sounds like you have it well preserved.....maybe a time capsule??? LOL!!! Thanks for the comment!

    • negacrowbar profile image

      negacrowbar 8 years ago from Inglewood, California

      my laptop is fried... it is filled with viruses and i keep it tin the closet in a plastic bag because i'm afraid of my PC catching its diseases