What To Do With An Old Broken Laptop – Rick Broda is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews and blog posts. He writes the popular Affordable Blog and hosts the Protocol 1: Traveler podcast (about the Traveler TV show). He lives in Michigan, where he already has two escape rooms (in his ebook “I’m a Middle Aged Zombie”).
Everything is old and new. This applies not only to bullheads and cassettes (seriously, cassettes are making a comeback), but also to your old tech.
What To Do With An Old Broken Laptop
You learn how to repair old tablets; Now, focus on the laptop that has been sitting in the closet for years. Even if the mess spreads slowly, you might be surprised at how many lives can be saved. You probably won’t spend any money.
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First things first: what is boot? If you have a burst hard drive, cracked screen, or missing/damaged keyboard keys, it might be time to clean/recycle. Replacing a hard drive isn’t difficult or expensive, but it does come at a cost.
But if the hardware is still good, you have many options. The most obvious way: reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows. (Have you transferred data to a new laptop?) This is worth considering if you have the necessary media (ie bootable Windows disk and / or flash drive), but it may not be necessary. In fact, if the machine is running an older version of Windows, that might not be wise from a security perspective. (Best if you’re going to stick with Windows: do a clean install of Windows 10.)
Let’s take a look at some fun and practical ways to bring your old laptop back to life.
This is probably the best option, because it does many things at once. When you install Linux, it will overwrite the current OS, warts and all (optional, but more). But it’s Windows-like, fast booting, anti-virus environment can handle almost everything.
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In case you don’t know, Linux is an open source operating system that can run thousands of programs – especially office suites like LibreOffice and OpenOffice. It can run browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Opera; games, such as Civilization V and Minecraft; Mail clients, such as Thunderbird; and Photoshop-class image editors like GIMP.
Need a program only available for Windows? A tool called PlayOnLinux can run it on Linux.
If there’s a catch, some Linux regions have a learning curve, especially when it comes to configuring certain settings. And you may encounter some compatibility issues with external devices like printers.
Recommend equipping your old laptop with Linux. The only question: What version of Linux (or “distribution,” for distro)? There are many to choose from, with Mint and Ubuntu arguably the most popular, the former almost mimicking the Windows user interface.
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What is a Chromebook if not a regular laptop with limited processing power and a Google-powered interface that doesn’t require processing power?
Therefore, your old laptop must complete the task of running the operating system, which is called Chromium. Why choose from Linux? Partly because it runs smoothly even on the most humble hardware, and partly because it’s all Google – a fact that draws Android users and others to the Google ecosystem.
In fact, if all you want from your old computer is a web browser and cloud apps, then Chromium might be the best choice for you. And there are at least two free and easy ways to achieve this: Cube Linux and Neverware Cloud. I’m part of the latter, but it’s easier to try both.
If your old laptop has a decent-sized hard drive inside, consider dedicating it to one noble purpose: network attached storage or NAS.
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This is not a new concept; Basically, the idea is to connect a large drive to your home network, then make the contents of the drive accessible on all devices: computers, phones, tablets, etc. Even better, you can access the drive not only at home, but wherever you connect it. Instead of exporting all your photos to the cloud, you can dump them to a NAS. Instead of storing movies on your phone, you can stream them from your NAS. Have an idea?
An old but good product for this: FreeNAS. It is designed for sharing files locally and online, and also offers media streaming features. It runs from a bootable CD or flash drive, from which it configures the computer’s IP address. Presto: Fast and easy remote access to laptop hard drives.
This is a slightly different animal than a media server. The idea is to turn your laptop into a media center that provides a TV, direct connection for everything from recording TV stations to watching Netflix on the big screen.
I’ll be honest: I don’t see much value in this option. Netflix isn’t hard to find, and most older laptops don’t have the horsepower needed for DVR duties. (You’ll also need a tuner, antenna, remote control, etc.) Unfortunately, if you don’t have an HDMI output, the project is almost over before you start.
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That said, if you want to give it a try, check out this guide on how to create a home media center with Kodi.
Remember SETI@home? It’s still a thing. In fact, it started so long ago, you might not even recognize the name. SETI@home connects computers to a distributed network, using processors to help analyze radio telescope data. In other words, now another laptop can help in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
All you have to do is download the Boink software (available for Windows, Mac, and—hint—hint—Linux), then select SETI@home from the list of available projects.
If the outdoors isn’t your thing, Boink also activated this “volunteer calculator” for medical research and climate analysis. The only cost to you is the energy and (little) bandwidth required to run the laptop.
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Admit it: You’ve always been worried that someone is using your laptop webcam to spy on you. Make waves with iSpy, an open source video surveillance application for Windows. With this, your old laptop will become a surveillance camera, which can be used to monitor children, pets, babysitters, outdoor activities or anything else.
This can be very useful if you want an inexpensive way to monitor, for example, a sleeping baby. Additionally, iSpy is free for local use (meaning in your home), but if you want to view your webcam remotely, the service costs $7.95 per month.
For the serious DIY-er, there’s nothing more satisfying than taking your laptop down to an empty section, then turning one of those sections into something fun—in this case, a digital photo frame. After all, those big, high-resolution screens should be put to good use, right?
There are many online tutorials dedicated to this topic; I recommend the Digital Photo Frame named from Notebook on Instructables. It’s very simple: disassemble the laptop, put the screen in the frame, install the computer port behind the frame, now open the photo frame software. But there are other ways to do it, so visit your favorite search engine for more options.
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Oh, and it seems that you take it apart to get a part, put the hard drive in an external case, and use it as a USB drive!
Subscribe to daily highlights of the best tech deals on the web – from phones to gadgets and more. How to Recover Programs and Files from a Broken or Dead Computer (Even If It’s Not!)
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to get your programs, configurations, settings, documents, photos, music, movies, preferences, and everything back from a broken computer that doesn’t work anymore—on a new replacement computer.
Isn’t it better to avoid dealing with a broken computer? This article will help you recover from a crash, but in the future – you can avoid problems by using self-healing backups – available here.
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This process uses automated computer recovery software so that it does not require much technical knowledge for a successful recovery. You can use this guide in the following situations:
Fortunately, if your hard drive is not completely dead, you can not only recover files, but you can also restore settings and programs to a new computer. Read to find out.
Old hard drive connected to a new computer and just restore programs and files from it? awesome! You just need to run Migration Kit Pro and it will restore everything from the drive, even the programs. Get Video Recovery Software – How to Recover Programs, Settings and Files from a Dead Computer
The first step in rescuing programs and data from a damaged computer is to remove the hard drive and connect it to a replacement computer. Let’s see how to do this.
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Now you have it
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