Hey everyone I wonder if you could help me out. I am currently at my parents home and there are some old pcs from the time when I was young (even my first very on pc is among them). They might have been bought between 1997 and 2002 and have single core processors starting from 333 Mhz going up to 1800 Mhz. Memory is also varying between 64 MB to 1 GB as is the hard disk. Those computers need way to much energy, the fan is really loud and so on…

In general the electronic parts of these computers are still in a good shape and they have served a good purpose for a long time. I can imagine many use cases yet looking at ebay you would only be able to sell these computers for 1 euro each.

I kind of refuse to give them away for free or even worse trow them away. But apparently these computers are worth nothing. Which sorry to say this again I refuse to accept. Computing power is an amazing thing.

Does anyone have a cool idea what one could do with them? Maybe install some lite weight Linux and use them to control some hardware or investigate some networking projects. I even considered using them as a file / backup server but this also seems not to be a good idea since the energy consumption as mentioned above is too high and network storage devices which you can buy nowadays seem to fulfill the service much better.

I tried to google for the problem but I only find boring articles without any good ideas. So if anyone of you had some idea this would be highly appreciated.

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7 Comments on What should I do with my 10 to 15 year old desktop pcs?

  1. Jonas Kunze says:

    You can open the hard disks and use the disks as beer coasters. They are quite scratch-resistant!

    Also you can reuse the tower to build a new system in it. But even this I wouldn’t recommend as new towers have many clever features, are really cheap to buy and are much lighter.

  2. Lisa says:

    Make artworks out of the different parts and showcase them in special art exhibitions of museums :) Or give them to artists who might make something cool out of it wherewith you can decorate your flat!

  3. Martin says:

    In HDDs are strong magnets to move the heads (not to write or read!). Maybe you could use them.

    I have an old notebook which does not work, because the display is broken. But I don’t want to throw it away, too. I’m curious what ideas people have!

    Aren’t there services that recycle old phones and pay you a little bit for it? Is there something similar for old computers?

    • Jonas Kunze says:

      Well do you have ssh running on the notebook? If yes you can use it as a home server (attack some disks via usb…).
      It’s also a good idea to compile serial console support into your kernel. Than you can easily log into your broken notebook with a com port. But this you should do before breaking it ;-)

      Sometimes it’s worth repairing your display. At ebay you can buy adapters from whatever standard theses displays have to vga or dvi. But it’s quite expensive.
      If it’s not the display but the graphic card you can try one thing: baking the mainboard. Put the whole Mainboard into your oven for a while (please google for the right temperatures. I think it was around 180°C). With a little luck it runs again afterwards. In my case it was running for a day but than broke again ;-) What happens is that on a notebook you have quite some forces which can break soldering joints and by baking the board you can meld the solder again. But if it’s too hot some components could fall off.

  4. RG says:

    What is so wrong about the idea of giving them away for free? You don’t know what to do with them, but someone else might. I’m already happy when someone else uses them for his profit, while I’m rid of the burden.
    Overall if you find noone, make sure they are recycled at an official place and don’t end up at dump sites in africa to be scrapped by little children.

    • there is nothing wrong with giving them away for free. but apparently no one wants to have them… I called and mailed many institutions that are looking for donations. it is really an incredible problem.

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