You can do things with an old computer that you never imagined, so the last thing you should do is just throw it away.
Laptops and desktop computers tend to have far longer lives than smartphones, with a useful lifetime of a decade being quite common. But the day will eventually come when yours no longer meets your needs and you have to decide what to do with it.
Alongside the obvious choices of recycling or donating your old computer, there are some options which can give your seemingly outdated laptop or desktop a second life. From turning it into a second monitor for your new laptop to converting it into a living room hub or a computer for the kids, here’s what you can do and how to do it.
How to recycle your old laptop
Most retailers and manufacturers also have their own recycling schemes. For example, Currys – a Vodafone partner – will accept your old computer in-store whether you’re buying anything new from them or not. It will also pick it up from your doorstop if you are buying something from them and are having it delivered.
Another example is Apple. You can drop off desktop and laptop computers from any manufacturer at their UK stores for recycling. Alternatively, you can trade-in old Macs with Apple. Bear in mind that such trade-in is for convenience, as you’ll typically get more for an old Mac by selling it on sites such as eBay.
How to back up your old laptop
Of course, ensure you back up any data you want to keep and then wipe your computer well in advance of handing it over. If your files only total a couple of gigabytes, you don’t need to back up system files such as programs and system settings and you have an internet connection with fast upload speeds, you can back them up to cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
If your data consumes dozens or hundreds of gigabytes then it’ll be more economical and faster to back them up to an external drive. Macs released in the past 15 years or so have a basic but user-friendly backup feature called Time Machine built into macOS, while a barebones backup feature has been built into Windows since Windows XP under various different names.
If you have lots of data and you want to preserve every single last program and system setting, dedicated backup software such as Acronis Cyber Protect for Windows and Carbon Copy Cloner for macOS are tried-and-trusted options.