With many manufacturers refreshing their laptops every year or so, many people wonder what they can do with their old laptops. Old laptops, just like old desktops, can be used for many different things instead of just junking them or recycling them. From kitchen computers to media stations, there are many uses for these old notebooks. The trick is to be creative and not be afraid to try stuff out.
1. Non-Mobile Workstation: Once you've replaced your old laptop, something that can happen more frequently for some than others, you can set up your old laptop as a workstation that won't be moved around much. This could mean that your new laptop was something more portable (like a thinner and lighter laptop), or even a tablet. Then you could have a monitor, hard drives, a keyboard and mouse permanently installed on your desk, without moving them about. As such, the old laptop would almost be permanently plugged in and almost always on. While there's nothing stopping you from using a single laptop for this, we prefer to keep our new laptops powered off when we are not using them. This old laptop is now used like a desktop. By syncing files through the cloud, which is easily done using Google Docs for document files or Evernote, you'll keep file transfers to a minimum.
2. Downloading/Streaming Station: If you are streaming or downloading a lot of stuff, then it's a smart idea to use an old laptop to do this. You can either use your WiFi network or simply plug it directly into the router to get the fastest speeds. Ideally, this would mean that the laptop would be permanently installed somewhere in your living room. This would mean that you could use it as an HTPC, streaming media to an HDTV.
3. Media Hub: Instead of buying a dedicated NAS (network attached storage, a wireless hard drive that lets many people store data onto a single hard drive) storage device, you can use your old laptop's hard drive the same way by sharing it on your WiFi network. The process is similar to connecting a direct cable connection. You just have to follow the prompts when you click on the 'Sharing' tab. Once the old laptop is discoverable on the network, it can be used in the same way as an external hard drive. Storage can easily be expanded by adding cheap external USB hard drives and a USB hub.
4. Kitchen Computer: Instead of buying a dedicated computer for the kitchen, you can easily turn your old laptop into a kitchen computer, thanks to a wireless keyboard, a mouse, and some ingenuity.
5. Dedicated Work Laptop: Many people don't like taking their work home, but if you have an old laptop, you can set it up to be exclusively used by you for work-related tasks. It stops you from accessing the programs dedicated to work and if that laptop is configured to check your email, then you can basically ensure that you aren't disturbed by work-related problems when you are home. That is, unless you absolutely need to be reached for work at all times.