Five things to do with an old PC

There are many things to do with an old PC, from dismantling and destroying it to refurbishing or restoring it to factory settings

Friday, 12 March, 2021

In homes across the UK, the emergence of smartphones and tablets has resulted in old desktop PCs becoming increasingly irrelevant.

These former mainstays of internet access often gather dust inside cupboards and attics, redundant in the face of so many other web-enabled devices with browser capabilities.

And while many of us still use PCs for work or leisure, online gaming or processor-intensive hobbies, some people no longer need desktop devices.

However, disposing of an old computer isn’t always simple.

There’s likely to be sensitive personal data on the hard drive, they’re often hard to dismantle, and depositing a functioning computer at the tip seems inappropriate somehow.

While you could take a hammer to a tower, or throw it in a skip, there are plenty of things to do with an old PC which don’t involve plastic components ending up in landfill.

These are five suggestions for things to do with an old PC which could benefit your family and the wider community – without harming the environment…

1. Donate it.

Charities are often keen to receive old electrical goods, which they can either resell or repurpose for poorer families and people in developing nations.

Even if your old PC is a bit slow, it’ll still be gratefully received by a family with no computer – many households are unable to afford even a second-hand PC and peripherals.

2. Sell it.

If you’re keen to make some cash, working computers can often be sold on internet marketplaces, in newspaper small ads or on dedicated auction sites.

Provide a detailed and honest description. If you’re going to format the hard drive, what software CDs can you supply for reinstallation? Does it ever crash? What peripherals are included?

3. Strip it down.

Building on the previous point, there may be scope to dismantle the computer and repurpose, resell or donate specific components such as hard drives, graphics cards or peripherals.

Unscrewing a tower reveals components which generally unclip or slide out. You may even be able to replace faulty existing parts, giving an old PC a new lease of life.

4. Use it as a firewall.

A computer with nothing on its hard drive provides an ideal firewall against malware and viruses, when positioned between another web-enabled device and a wireless router.

Effectively serving as a barrier against viruses, this is great if you spend large amounts of time on P2P networks, the Dark Web or other potentially risky platforms.

5. Create a network.

This expands on the previous suggestion. An old PC can distribute media files around the home, acting as a central storage medium for movies and music, documents and data.

It could also be linked to an existing computer as a dedicated device for teenagers, with remote access or administrative controls in place – autonomy without full independence.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!