What Can I Do With My Spare Computer?

Angela Randall 03-07-2012

what to do with spare computerWe all know the mantra of efficient product usage: Reduce; Reuse; Recycle. When it comes to computers though, changing technology and the need for tech-minded people to upgrade makes it hard to reduce consumption. This means we’re plagued with the problem of old computers lying around our sheds with need of a good home or project to give them new life.


But thankfully, there are plenty of great ways to make use of your old computers. If you’re a little bit crafty or have an artistic streak, there’s plenty of ways you can turn your old computer into a real feature piece for your house. Check out these great ideas for your old computers.

Re-Use Your Computer

In many cities worldwide, there are a handful of community-minded geeks who tirelessly accept old computers and install an operating system which is cheap or free, such as Linux, on each of them. These computers are then either sold very cheaply or given away to needy people. An example of a computer donation service is

what to do with spare computer

In some cases, the refurbished computers are sent to schools in third world countries, while others are offered to students or welfare recipients locally. This will all depend on who’s in charge of the program you find near you. Whatever the mindset of the group is, you can usually rest assured that someone somewhere thinks that your old computer is worth having – and these people will make sure one of these people gets hold of yours.

Computer re-use is a free way to get rid of your old machine and maintain peace of mind. If you don’t have a program near you, find someone to donate to directly by talking to students you know or simply consider using a service like Freecycle.


Don’t forget that old computers can easily be re-used in your own home as dedicated media centres, photo frames, etc. It might be a waste of the technology, but not as much as simply throwing it out.

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Re-Cycle Your Computer

This is by far the least interesting option, but it should be noted that if you’re trying to get rid of your old computer and neither re-use nor crafty projects appeal to you then you can recycle the parts properly. In fact, in many countries you actually must recycle the computer parts with an officially registered recycler to ensure each tiny part is disassembled and recycled properly. It might cost you a little bit, but by being green at least you know you’re doing your best by the environment by recycling.

spare computer uses


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Re-Purpose Your Computer

Your computer doesn’t need to be re-used as a computer. If the hardware is so out of date it’s borderline antique, then you’d perhaps be more interested in a crafty, artistic project to make your house look like a real geek haven. Following are some of the best things you can turn your computer into.

Turn your old CRT computer monitor into a fish tank. It’ll teach your kids that monitors weren’t always two-dimensional! Here’s a guide to make your own monitor fish tank, plus a photo of a working Macquarium by Eric Chan.

spare computer uses


Create a piece of clothing or accessory artwork out of your old keyboard. The individual keys make for nicely geeky buttons, cufflinks or earrings. If you’re really good, you can weave the keys into the material itself, like they did for this dinner jacket.

Here’s some cufflinks created by The Birds In The Meadow [No Longer Available].

spare computer uses

Where would a computer be if it didn’t still get to have cats on it after it died? It’s not even worth thinking about because there’s an easy way to keep the cats: turn it into a cat bed.


old computer uses

An old computer case can be used for anything, right? So, why not a coffee maker?

what to do with spare computer

If you’d like to really make a feature of your old monitor, you could always turn it into a stylish lamp. This one is by designer Boris Kostov.

old computer uses

You might also like to read:

What other great ideas for computer re-use have you seen? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: Boris Kostov [Broken URL Removed]

Explore more about: Green Technology, Recycling.

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  1. Anonymous
    December 1, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Great ideas I think I will use some of them. i dont want to trow away my pc

  2. Edward Bellair
    October 15, 2012 at 4:27 am

    When and if I get time want to turn one into a server.

  3. Mburu Solista
    October 12, 2012 at 10:00 am

    great article, the one for catbox made my day, especially with such painting.

  4. Gian Singh
    July 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    doubt i'll ever turn it into a lamp.

  5. Terafall
    July 8, 2012 at 6:46 am

    I never thought of any of that

  6. musicphann
    July 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I'd probably turn it into a FreeNAS server or a backup box running Linux.

  7. Garey Boone
    July 5, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Love the suit and the coffee maker

  8. slywlf
    July 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Funny! I gave two older computers to a local homeless shelter to help the folks get reconnected with the world. The last one I installed with the SETI screensaver/processing program and just let it run! It is a little slow at its job, but the time adds up and work is getting done ;-)

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 5, 2012 at 6:16 am

      Heh, awesome!

  9. vineedcool
    July 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    never give away ur hard disk,,,,data of ur social acc can be extracted frm it!!!

  10. Danny Stieben
    July 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    That coffee maker looks like it's still a working computer too. Those hard drive bays in the front are all still on. :O

  11. Mary Nunaley
    July 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Love the vest and the cat box. May need to try something when my laptop dies.

  12. Mohit Tandon
    July 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Haha awesome!! Great stuff. The coffee maker is quite nice!

  13. Ben
    July 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

    The dinner jacket is fantastic!

  14. Tanguy Djokovic
    July 4, 2012 at 7:55 am

    damn no cat house for me ... flat screen problem...

  15. LivingOn
    July 4, 2012 at 6:15 am

    for german-speaking readers, i can recommend
    the projects were developed as part of a competition in the computer magazine c't.

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 4, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for sharing this!

  16. Laga Mahesa
    July 4, 2012 at 2:39 am

    That catbox is pure genius.

  17. Philip Nelson
    July 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I use my spare laptop to host a Ventrilo server for my guild.

  18. jessemanalansan
    July 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Lol. Cool stuff. :D