What to Do with Your Old Laptop

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Last updated: 06/30/2020
What to Do with Your Old Laptop

Deciding What to Do with Your Old Laptop

The first thing to do when deciding what is next for your old laptop is to assess its condition. If you stopped using it because it wouldn’t turn on, it had a cracked screen that made reading things difficult, or it had multiple keys missing, then your best option may be to get rid of it either by recycling or selling its parts. 
However, if it is in working condition then there are a number of interesting things you can do to make it useful again. Here are some of the things you can do with an old laptop:

Recycle or Donate Your Laptop

If your laptop is badly damaged or not operational then your best option is probably to recycle it. E-waste is a growing concern, so rather than just throwing it out with the trash, identify the most environmental way to dispose of it. Before you do this, make sure you have wiped all of your personal information from the hard drive. To efficiently protect your private data, you should take out the hard drive and physically destroy it or send it to a shredding center. A quick Google search will help you find the best way to recycle your laptop in your area. Companies such as Best Buy, Staples and Amazon all have collection programs that are free as well! 
If you think your laptop could still be used, then there is also the option to donate it. Computers are always in demand and there are many families without the personal resources to buy one. There are many charities that accept old electronics, such as the National Cristina Foundation or the World Computer Exchange. Your donation may even be eligible for a tax break. Again – remember to wipe your laptop of personal information before you donate it.

Sell or Trade Your Laptop

If your laptop is in good condition, then you may wish to get back some of the money you paid for it by selling or trading it. There is a big market for used technology, and whether your laptop is working or not you may still be able to find a buyer. Sites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Decluttr and LetGo all have many used laptops for sale, in both working and non-working condition. Places such as Amazon, Apple and Best Buy all have trade in options available where you may be able to get gift cards in return for your old laptop. This will depend upon its condition of course, so make sure you consider all your options before committing to anything.
As always, remember to take precautions to protect your privacy before you sell or trade in your laptop. Often the best option is to remove the hard drive – websites like ifixit.com will help you with tutorials in how to do this. 

Learn a New Operating System

You may not wish to get rid of your old laptop, in which case there are a number of things you can use it for instead. 
The first option is to learn a new operating system such as Linux. Linux will overwrite whichever previous operating system you had, and let you learn a whole new system. It is an open-source operating system similar to windows, is virus-resistant, and capable of just about anything. 
Linux does require a learning curve, but there are online courses you can take for free, or from places like Udemy for $20. Windows users may be best off simply downloading the Ubuntu version of Linux, which is fairly similar to Windows programming. 

Learn How to Build a Computer

One of the best places to learn how to build a computer is with your old laptop, especially if you have never attempted it before. You can work out everything, without the worry that you are destroying your primary computer. 
There is also a market for computer parts, so if you aren’t going to use it for anything else see if you can sell the parts – you might be surprised at how much you can get!

Help Out with a Distributed Computing Project

Distributed computing is the use of idle CPU and GPU cycles from volunteer computers to solve a common problem. Basically, by joining one of these projects you can help out with complex problems such as fighting diseases, contacting extra-terrestrials, analyzing potential bugs and just generally exploring interesting things that humans haven’t discovered yet.
All you need to do is join one of these projects and follow their instructions. You will then need to leave your laptop running so remember it will need internet and electricity. You can search online for these projects but a couple of popular ones are Folding@Home and SETI@Home

Create a Home Theatre

This option can be limited because it will depend on the age of your old laptop, and the memory capacity. However, if you have the disk space and a laptop that isn’t too dated this can be a fun way to use your old laptop. The concept is simple – a dedicated device for storing and streaming TV and movies. One of the main uses of laptops these days is for watching movies and TV shows, but often it can clog your laptop up with applications and media. Wipe your old laptop of everything else and download all the relevant streaming services onto it – Netflix, Amazon Prime, NOW TV, Disney+, Plex and many more. Connect it to your TV and speakers and this way you never have to worry about using your current laptop for watching media.

Create a Private Computer

If you’re sick of prying eyes when browsing the internet but you don’t want to change the settings on your new laptop, you can set up your old laptop for extra-private browsing instead. Install TOR, a private browsing service, and choose a good VPN and away you go! This way you will be secure when you are browsing the internet and away from spying eyes.
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