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7 ways to give your old computer new life

Two people using old computer in kitchen

What should you do with your old computer? Stashing it in a closet just takes up space, plus it could be a fire hazard. Tossing it in the garbage isn't a good idea either—the metals and chemicals in electronics can be toxic, so you'll want to keep your old computer out of a landfill.

You could recycle it or donate it to a friend, but your best bet may be to give your old device a new life as, say, a gaming server or a security system. Here are our seven favorite money-saving, environmentally friendly ways to do so.

Make a home theater media center

If you bought your device in the last decade, it should have enough power to host your video files or stream movies and TV shows from Netflix®, Hulu®, YouTube™, and any other service. All you need to do is connect your old computer to your TV by using an HDMI cable. Then grab a wireless keyboard and mouse and start watching. You can also use a media center or media server app.

Play retro games

If you're into old-school computer games, you might want to turn your aging computer into a retro game console. You'll need an emulator, a program that lets you run software on your computer from a completely different device. But it's not that complicated. A good place to start is RetroArch, which can show you how to hook it up.

Create a game server

Turning your old computer into a private, dedicated game server will give you more control and save you money on the monthly fee needed to rent the server. Many popular old games have dedicated servers, but Minecraft™ is a good place to start. You can also check out this partial list of games sold on Steam™ that support dedicated servers.

Create a file server

Another way to get extra mileage out of your old computer is to turn it into a file server. You can access your files across multiple computers in your home, and online too, and you'll avoid any fees related to cloud storage. Even aging computers with port compatibility issues or network hardware limitations can become file servers. Just make sure to leave your old computer on all the time—it works best that way. To get started, you'll need free file transfer protocol (FTP) server software. A simple Google® search will point you in the right direction.

Use your old computer for video conferencing

If you work from home a lot, turning your old computer into a dedicated video conferencing station might be a great addition to your home office. All you need is FaceTime®, Zoom™, Microsoft Teams™, or your video chat platform of choice. Alternatively, you can download a webcam app and even boost the quality of your videos by investing in an external webcam.

Use your old computer in your kitchen or garage

Your kitchen, your garage, your porch—these are all places you wouldn't want to take your brand new laptop. But an old one might work perfectly there to help you follow a recipe or keep track of to-do items for your latest construction project because you won't feel quite as bad about getting it dirty.

Boost your home security

An old computer can help you monitor your home when you're away without the added cost of a subscription fee (Nest™, for example, ranges from $6 to $12 a month or $60 to $120 a year). Connect as many cameras as you want to your computer instead of the cloud. This is a great solution for anyone concerned about privacy on cloud-based home security systems. All you need are IP cameras as well as software to manage them.

How to get your old computer ready

However you choose to give your old computer new life, you'll likely want to perform a little maintenance first—we can help. Stop by your nearest uBreakiFix® by Asurion store for a fast computer tune-up from one of our trusted experts.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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