Who said the only great uses for an old PC were either donating it to charity or parting it out for money. If it still works, there are dozens of practical uses for your old machines. You don’t have to turn your PC into a fish tank just yet.

The amount of uses really are mind-boggling too. We decided to put together a list of the most interesting and popular usabilities out there, from the more technical like setting up an external firewall to fun uses such as creating an interactive family bulletin board.

Our guide will outline 8 great uses for your old PC.

See Also: Create Your Own Portable PC Maintenance Toolkit With These 10 Programs

8 Tips to Utilize an Old Computer

Create a Digital Photo Frame

If you love displaying photos in your home, one of the best ways to do this is by using an old PC as a digital frame. You can use an old monitor and build a frame around it, then set up a slide show of your photos.

Otherwise, you can get extra technical and use a laptop screen by removing it from the case (yet still making sure it’s connected) and putting a frame around it and hanging it on the wall.


Create a Digital Photo Frame from your old Laptop

Set-Up a SETI Signal

Scientists hoping to receive a signal from outer space could use your help. Back in the 1970’s, a possible intelligent life signal was received from far away, and was never heard from again.

Since then, scientists have been setting up as many searching stations they can to detect a possible signal. Why not help scientists and donate your extra CPU power to a higher cause.


Download SETI Home

Create a Family Bulletin Board

If you have a family that lives and breathes by their bulletin board, using an old PC and purchasing a large, cheap flat TV screen and connecting them using a HDMI cord can be a brilliant rethought of the traditional bulletin board. Set it up in the kitchen or a common area with it displaying the calendar for everyone in the family to see.

Create a Media Center

For the average computer user, chances are you have an overwhelmingly large amount of movies and media on your current PC. If this is the case, you can use your old computer to dump all of your movies, MP3s, music and photos to create a designated media center that can run constantly so it’s easily accessible.

All that’s required is a PC that has at least 2G of hard drive space so it is fast enough to run today’s media applications, and any decent Wi-Fi card as well so it can stream movies to your TV or music to wireless speakers in your home. One of the best software titles to use for a media center is iTunes.


Set-Up a Live Weather “Station”

You don’t have to live in tornado alley to be a weather geek. If you love weather, try setting up your very own weather tracking center on an old PC. You can do this by installing weather software like StormLab or GRLevel3 and have your computer run continuously. If you capture anything awesome, you can even share it with your local news station.


Download GRLevel3

Turn it Into the Ultimate Firewall

If protecting your main PC from hackers or anything malicious is something you’re concerned about, a great thing you can do with an old PC is turn it into the ultimate external firewall, and this is fairly easy to setup as well.

One of the easiest ways to set this up is by using free firewall software, and one of the best options that’s been around the longest is IPCop, a Linux-based firewall geared towards home users.


Download IPCop

Create a Cooking Workstation

For cooking lovers, having a PC (a laptop is best for this) in the kitchen can be incredibly helpful. You can install recipe programs like BigOven that have hundreds of thousands of recipes, and surf the web for any cooking question that may arise on the fly. Bringing up video how-to’s on cooking techniques in the kitchen can’t be beat too.


Download BigOven

Use it as a Earthquake Sensor

If you have a computer and an Internet connection, you can volunteer to be part of a new network that is going to be the world’s largest high-density array of seismic sensors devoted to the study of earthquakes.

Stanford geophysicist Jesse Lawrence explains how low-cost seismic sensors could help create an early warning system for earthquakes.

Read more about this project at the Stanford University website.


Re-purposing anything old may be the trend right now, but it’s also here to stay. Remember – there are dozens of more uses for your old PC. Always think outside of the box before trashing that old dusty PC. If is still works, there’s a creative use for it. By the way,you can always prolong your computers’ life by cleaning it the correct way.

For more creative ways to use old hardware, check out our post – 8 Innovative and Fun Uses for Your Webcam