Technology demands that we upgrade our devices every couple years, leading many people to amass a large collection of old devices collecting dust somewhere in their homes. Most users are familiar with the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. These principles help reduce their environmental impact in order of decreasing importance. Yet, perhaps due to convenience, it’s far less common to see people reusing their products than simply recycling. Instead of just throwing away or recycling old tech, consider using it in a novel way. Here are five ways to make the most out of your old devices:
- Host a Website
Whether you have a laptop, desktop, or any other Linux/Windows-capable device, you can use any of these to easily host your own website. On computers, XAMPP is the easiest way to get a server running – simply download the software from https://www.apachefriends.org/download.html and install it. After that, the server will launch, and the dashboard will automatically open. You can put HTML files in C:\xampp\htdocs to host them. If you later want to make your website public, you can purchase a dynamic DNS service to expose it to the web.
- Share Media
If you have a collection of video files, music, or pictures stored locally, it’s surprisingly easy to open these up to streaming. Plex, located at https://www.plex.tv/, lets you turn an old device into your own Netflix for free. As long as the server device stays on, you can play your entire media collection from anywhere, using any device which has Plex installed.
- Help Science
If you feel particularly charitable, you can use the surplus computing power from your device to help scientific researchers. Folding@Home, located at https://foldingathome.org/, lets you use the unharnessed powers of your devices to simulate protein folding – a type of calculation which may eventually help find the cure for Alzheimer’s or COVID-19.
- Mine Cryptocurrency
Another viable use for older devices is mining cryptocurrency. Getting into crypto is a little more difficult, with many popular services requiring users to use the command line terminal. However, it allows users to directly convert their spare devices plus a little power into virtual cash. Users may turn to Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ethereum for popular cryptocurrencies which can be easily converted to and from cash.
- Strip it Down
Modern laptops have RAM, hard drives, and more which can be relocated to other devices and repurposed. Additionally, some laptop monitors can be connected to and used independently – which could easily provide a desktop with a second screen using a little DIY.
If you don’t feel the drive to repurpose your old device, consider donating it. Most jobs and higher education institutions require some sort of device that gets Internet access in order to be successful. Donating your old device may not seem like a grand gesture, but it can mean the world to the recipient.
Finally, if none of the above ways will work for you, you can always find the nearest electronic recycler. Electronic recyclers destroy sensitive data and they properly dispose of the materials so they do not become toxic landfill waste.
Author: Quinn Johnson, Grey Ruessler