What to do with an old computer

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

Often, people who purchase a new computer will wonder what to do with their older computer, or if they should throw it away. Below are some recommendations of what you can do with your older computer.

Use the computer for other things

Many people think once they get a new computer their old computer automatically becomes obsolete and can't be used for anything else. Surprisingly, you can do a lot with that old computer, below are some examples.

  • Setup home network - If you do not already have a home network, set one up. Use the older computer as a client on your network. Once your computers have been connected to each other, you can do such things as use your older computer as a storage or even a place to backup files.
  • Printer server - If you have a home network or plan on setting up one, you can use the computer as a printer server. A printer server enables you to share one or more printers between multiple computers. Steps on sharing a printer between multiple computers.
  • Alternate operating system - Alternative operating systems, such as Linux, are becoming increasingly popular. Even if you want to run Microsoft Windows, you can always dual-boot into Linux. You can also install Linux on an older computer, because Linux often runs well on older hardware. If you're interested in trying Linux, see our where to get Linux guide.
  • NAS - Setup a NAS (network-attached storage) to store backups, MP3 files, videos, and other files.
  • Distributed computing - There are several distributed computing projects that use the power of millions of different computers to help solve complex problems.

Give to kids or relatives

Most kids would love their own computer in their room, even if it is an older computer. See if any of your kids would like to have the families old computer for their own computer. If you decide to allow Internet access on that computer make sure to protect that child while online.

See if any of your family relatives would like to have your computer. Setting up a family member such as a grandparent with their own computer especially one who has never had a computer can make a huge difference in their life.

Use it for spare parts or cannibalize it

Open the computer and take any spare parts you think you need for your new computer. Things you may want to keep include: fans, power supply, CD-ROM, floppy drive, hard drives, and memory.

The parts mentioned above can be kept as a backup in case parts of your new computer fail. Or, components like a CD-ROM, hard drive, or memory can be added to your new computer to give it additional capabilities.

Sell it

Selling a computer can seem like a lot more work than getting rid of it, but it can help you recoup some money that you can spend on your new computer. It might also be useful for someone who doesn't need to purchase a new computer. And, finding a new home for a computer is good for the environment. Computers contain many precious resources, such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, which can be harmful for the environment if discarded improperly. So, there are many great reasons to find a new home for your old computer. For tips and recommendations about selling your computer online, see our online auction site guide.

There are several places that will accept working computers as donations to be used for the less fortunate, schools, etc. If you are interested in donating your computer, see the computer disposal page.

Recycle your computer


If your computer is so old that no one will accept it as a donation and you no longer want to use it, consider recycling it properly instead of throwing it away.