Five Ways to Reuse Old Computers: Test Bench to Backup Server

Here are five ways to reuse old computers. Make them test systems, backup servers with software like Karen’s Replicator, parts farms … here’s how to do it—Face it.Those old computers are just gathering dust in your house. If you were going to sell, donate or e-cycle them, you would have done that already.Try these five ways to reuse old computers. Turn them into backup servers, test bench systems, parts units and more. Here’s how.

1. Backup Server

Most computers have enough storage and computing power to act as all-in-one workstations, media servers and music players. All that functionality amounts to a potentially massive loss if your server fails.

Ye olde computer to the rescue. As long as it has a decent-sized hard drive — anything with more than a 120GB drive will do — your old system makes a great local backup server. Obviously how much you backup depends on the amount of space available, but even a few gigabytes should be enough for hyper-critical documents. Automating backups is a snap with Karen’s Replicator, my personal favorite for the task.

2. Workstation During Travel

Remote access applications make it easy to work from home while on the go, which is especially useful when your only option is an insecure, open Wi-Fi network. With an old computer at home, you can browse the web over a secure connection while working in a coffee shop, hotel or bookstore. This not only protects your privacy, but gives you a faster connection, as well.

3. Part it Out

There’s some valuable stuff inside your old computer. You can use the powerful magnets inside mechanical hard drives for a number of things. Or, if you prefer not to destroy it completely, the old hard drive could become a virtual memory space for your new computer.

Video cards, if you have them, can be reused to add a second, third or even fourth monitor to your new system.


4. Test Bench

Old computers are also great for testing parts or upgrades. You can transform one into a dedicated “bench” computer by removing as many panels as possible. The faster you access the innards, the faster you’re able to test that RAM module you found under your bookshelf.

5. Single-purpose uses

There are tons of other single-purpose uses for old computers. The only limit is your imagination. You could connect it to a weather station out in the garage. Or buy a large, cheap flat screen TV and use it as a family bulletin board that displays everyone’s calendar. Add a camera to it, and you’ve got a self-contained, portable video surveillance system.

Consider uses that might involve harsh conditions, as well. This is where that “useless” old computer can give you the most value.


If you’re like me, you don’t like to waste a thing. I hope these suggestions have triggered a few ideas for you. Feel free to share your own creative uses for old computers in the comments below.

Image credits: Jeremy Lesniak