How to Best Use Your Old Windows XP or Vista Computer

Joe Keeley 11-04-2017

On April 11, 2017, Microsoft puts the final nail in the coffin for Windows Vista Microsoft Is Finally Killing Windows Vista Microsoft will soon consign Windows Vista to the dustbin of history. So if you're running Vista the time has come to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Pick your poison! Read More . This means that Vista will not receive any security updates, nor will Microsoft provide any support for it. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop using it.


We’re going to highlight the uses for your old Windows Vista and XP systems that remain perfectly safe; these are activities that won’t put you at risk from threats which won’t be patched. That’s providing you don’t want to just upgrade to Windows 10 You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free (With a Loophole) If you missed the deadline for the free Windows 10 upgrade, you're in luck because there's still another method you can use -- as long as your conscience allows you to do so. Read More , of course.

If you can think of any good uses for an old Vista or XP system that we’ve missed out, please share it in the comments below.

1. Old-School Gaming

Many modern games don’t properly support older operating systems (OS), but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your gaming fix. Both XP and Vista have games included, like Minesweeper and Solitaire, if you’re looking for something simple to pass the time. These don’t require you to be connected to the internet either, so you can enjoy them until the end of time… or until your system packs in.

gog old-school gaming drm-free

Otherwise, if you ignore anything released in the last seven years or so, there’s a huge back catalog of games for you to dive into. If you have anything on disc, pop it into your drive and enjoy. You can even download some older PC games legally for free 5 Sites Where You Can Download Old PC Games for Free Want to try downloading some old PC games for free? Here are the sites where you can find the best games of old, free to download. Read More .


Also, check out websites like Although this now sells all the latest titles, it was originally set up as a place to get good old games that have been made compatible for systems running XP and above.

2. Office Work

Office 2010 was the last version of Microsoft’s suite that supported XP and Vista. Although Microsoft no longer sells it directly, you can still pick it up from some online retailers. Providing you don’t need any of the fancy features that newer Office packages offer, the 2010 version will do the job perfectly for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.

office 2010 suite

If you already have a license key for Office 2010 and have lost the installation media, you can download earlier versions of Office officially from Microsoft’s website. Simply input your 25-character key, select your language, and begin your download. Note that extended support for Office 2010 is only offered until 2020.


Of course, you don’t have to use Microsoft Office, especially if you just want something that will get the job done with little fuss. There are a number of great alternatives to Office Is OpenOffice Shutting Down? 4 Great Free Office Suite Alternatives OpenOffice is no longer a free Microsoft Office alternative you can count on. We have compiled the four best options for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Read More , like the free LibreOffice, that support XP and Vista.

3. Media Player

You could turn your entire system into a dedicated media player. Perhaps hook it up in your living room and use it as your music and video player. You don’t need to be connected to the internet if you just want to play CDs and DVDs. You’ll even be able to use Windows Media Center, which is now discontinued 5 Alternatives to Windows Media Center for Windows 10 Windows 10 will offer many new features, but some old favorites will be deprecated. The Windows Media Center will no longer be supported. Here are alternative media center application compatible with Windows 10 to take... Read More from modern versions of Windows.

windows media center alternatives

Music streaming platforms like Spotify will work on Vista for now, though aren’t officially supported. Alternatively, you could turn your computer into a media server How To Build A Home Media Server From An Old PC Read More . This will make it primarily a storage device, from which you can use other systems to connect in to. Your mileage might vary depending on how powerful your computer is.


4. Donate Processing Power

If you don’t need to actively use your computer, you could donate its processing power to a good cause. Research projects across the world work with massive amounts of data. This information needs to be processed and analyzed, but using a couple of computers isn’t quick enough to cope with the volume. As such, you can loan your system’s processor to help crunch this data.

One of the most popular projects is Stanford University’s Folding@Home, which researches protein folding, computational drug design and other types of molecular dynamics. But there are loads of other distributed computing projects available 10 Ways To Donate Your CPU Time To Science Read More , so go ahead and find one that suits your cause.

5. Recycle the Parts

Just because your OS is no longer supported, doesn’t mean the components inside the case are useless. You could take some of them out and put them in a newer build to get performance gains. Though note that if you bought your system when XP or Vista first launched, then you might find that your components are outdated and slow compared to modern alternatives.

hard drive internals up close


If you’re not knowledgeable about the insides of your computer, check out our ultimate guide to PC components What's Inside Your Computer: The Story Of Every Component You Need To Know Whether you're buying a new computer or building your own, you're going to be subjected to a lot of acronyms and random numbers. Read More .

The part that you’ll probably get best use out of is the hard drive. Even if it’s slow, it could still work as archival storage. You might also be able to use the RAM, depending on its compatibility with your other system. See our guide on which upgrades will improve performance Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Need a faster computer but aren't sure what you should upgrade on your PC? Follow our PC upgrade checklist to find out. Read More for more information.

Get Protected and Deep Freeze

Since your computer is now vulnerable to threats that Microsoft will no longer patch, it’s important that you’re running up-to-date virus protection software. While these won’t necessarily protect you from all flaws in the OS, they can help fight against things like malware. We’ve rounded up the top free anti-virus programs to help you choose.

antivirus myth security

You might also consider deep freezing your system System Restore On Reboot - Deep Freeze Your Windows Installation With Free Tools If you've ever wanted to maintain a system state to keep it secure and not allow any changes, then you might want to try deep freezing your Windows computer. Read More . This involves making an image, or a copy, of your system in a particular state that you can then restore back to. This means that if your system is overrun with viruses, you can turn back the clock to when it was clean. You can even set this up so this image is used every time the computer turns on, meaning its state can’t be permanently changed.

How do you make use of your Windows XP and Vista system safely now that support has ended? Do you think you’ll upgrade to a newer OS like Windows 10?

Image Credits: Nonchanon/Shutterstock

Related topics: Media Server, Recycling, Windows Vista, Windows XP.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Bellflight 14
    January 17, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Make the switch from Windows to Linux Open Source - Linux Mint or Ubuntu are easy to learn for previous Windows users with their modern desktops, no need for anti-virus software and stable platform. For gaming you'll want to stick with Windows, otherwise - Linux is equal or superior to any Windows OS.

  2. southsidemke
    June 29, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Still a point of irritation that Microsoft chopped off all users with Vista and before ass unnecessary baggage and would not allow the free passage to convert.

  3. Lokesh Galav
    May 17, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Your article was very interesting and informative.

  4. MarkXS
    April 22, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Your advice is irresponsible. Number 4 is especially inappropriate and risky. Donating processing power to a good cause like Folding@Home or others, is a fine idea. But not from a PC which is no longer getting security updates. You have to put that PC on the internet in order to participate. An insecure-and-getting-worse XP PC will immediately become a target of exploits. Exploits that may recruit your PC into a botnet used for malicious hacking, criminal, or even terrorist activity.

    Old-school, not-networked, entirely inside your home, standalone PC use - that's fine. Sure, use an old version of Office or LibreOffice to write, print, edit. But as a totally disconnected machine. Just like many of us did back when XP was new in 2001 and not all PCs even came with network cards.

    Don't put it on the internet (that means, not even via your home WiFi router) under any circumstances if you are still running Windows XP. Don't even put it on your home network, if you want to be fully secure, as there are exploits which look for other machines on a Windows internal network.

    The most reasonable thing to do is to put a lightweight installation of a Linux distro on it. Most likely Linux Mint. Will run fine. Out of the "box" will have Firefox, Thunderbird email, open-source Chromium (the base for Google Chrome and runs just like it), LibreOffice, and a desktop conceptually similar to Windows. Will network just fine to your other Windows machines and nearly all printers and multifunction machines.

    Don't put Windows XP back online. Just don't.

  5. BillinSDCA
    April 22, 2017 at 2:01 am

    I use mine as a server for my home network.

  6. Karen
    April 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    We had a couple old machines we loaded Reboot Restore Rx Pro onto and put out in customer reception area as kiosks. The machines just wipe themselves after every use so that keeps the maintenance to next to none. Always nice!

  7. William Vasquez
    April 12, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Oh my God, Yes! How could you not even mention putting on a low spec 32 bit (or even 64 bit) Linux Distro. Any Linux OS (Linux Lite; Lubuntu; Linux Mint Mate; etc..) would be infinitely better than XP or Vista ever was. The above mentioned Distros and others are made for old, low resource PCs and are so similar to Windows that hardly any learning curve would be needed to use them right away and right out of the box.

  8. suzerainty
    April 12, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    I have an old Windows XP machine hooked up to 2 printers that won't work with any other o/s. If I need something printed, I send it from my Windows 10 to my XP using Open Drive, because Dropbox no longer works with XP. Also, I have some old graphics stuff from Adobe and Paint Shop Pro that I use. If I want to work on a photo, I put it on a flash drive and transfer it that way. I don't use the XP for email or any internet searching, just the Open Drive.

  9. DrMoisheP
    April 12, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Put a free version of Linux, e.g. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, on it.
    - Linux distros are maintained, or provide a path for the next long-term version.
    - Linux can run almost all the existing Windows software (using Wine) if dual-boot is enabled.
    - Linux has no advertising embedded, unlike MS Windows.
    - Linux may run faster than Windows!

    • BoxPox
      April 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Even Lubuntu can makes things much better