What Can You Do With An Old Laptop?

Do you have an old laptop lying around collecting dust? Want to make it faster or repurpose it? Find some cool things to do with an old computer.

1. Repurpose An Old Laptop

Turn into a Chromebook

Use CloudReady from Neverware to format and install ChromeOS. The Home edition is free for personal use.

Install Linux

Using an old laptop is a great way to try out Linux. There are many distributions to pick from, but Ubuntu is usually my top choice. Take a look at DistroWatch.com to see the many flavors of Linux you can install.

Turn into a Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Install FreeNAS (is now TrueNAS CORE) to turn your laptop into a network storage device. With a NAS, you’ll be able to have a common network storage for any device on your network.

2. Salvage An Old Laptop

Hard Drive

You can remove the hard drive and put it into a USB case to have a portable USB drive. You can use this drive to create backups of important data.

UGREEN 2.5″ Hard Drive Enclosure ( https://amzn.to/2ZYIb9S )


Remove the wireless card and save it as a spare. Not all WiFi cards are equal. You may find that the WiFi card in your old laptop is of better quality/capability than another laptop you may have. You can switch your WiFi card for the better one.


Memory can be removed and reused on another laptop. Just be sure to check that the memory type & speed are compatible.

Webcam / Screen

If you are adventurous, you can try removing the webcam and converting it into a USB webcam. Search here. Same with a laptop screen, you have to be willing to dive deep into this project. Check what others do.

3. Improve Performance On An Old Laptop

Reinstall the Operating System

By doing a clean reinstall of the OS, you start fresh. This should bring back the laptop performance to the way it was when you first purchased it. You’ll want to backup any data you want to keep, as to this process, you’ll be formatting (erasing) the hard drive.

Replace the Hard Drive with a SSD

If your laptop has a regular hard drive (spinning drive), then you will see major speed improvements switching over to a Solid State Drive.

SAMSUNG 870 EVO 500GB 2.5 Inch Internal SSD ( https://amzn.to/3dUdDhQ )

Clean Dust and Replace Thermal Compound

Another reason why laptops slow down after time is that they tend to overheat. This is due to the fan and heatsink getting dirty. You can try cleaning this out with a can of compressed air. Spray the air through the intake and exhaust vents to blow the dust off.

Another thing that happens is the thermal compound (gray paste) dries out. This reduces the amount of heat that can be dissipated to the heatsink. If you are handy, open your laptop and remove the heatsink to replace the thermal compound.

ARCTIC MX-4 – Thermal Compound ( https://amzn.to/3dSfKCX )

4. Donate An Old Laptop

Give to Family or Friend

See if you know anyone who may need/want a laptop. They may want to use the laptop as is or even try repurposing themselves.

Give to a Church, School, Charity

Find an organization that is accepting laptops. See if they need it working or if they will refurbish them.

5. Recycle It

Lastly, if you have no time for any of the above options, you can recycle your laptop. DO NOT THROW IN TRASH. Properly dispose of it through an e-waste program. Local governments and schools often collect e-waste for Earth Day/Week. Many municipalities schedule collection days year-round. Stores like BestBuy & Staples also collect e-waste. Search for local e-waste collections.

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