Well made computers last a long time. Just because you must have the latest and greatest doesn’t mean that used computer isn’t perfect for someone else. Computers drop in price really fast but they eventually reach the point where they are all worth $100-$200 so if you don’t need it anymore why not sell it and put the money toward some fancy accessory for your new super duper model.
If the computer is still new enough to be useful, and you don’t especially need the money why not donate it? There are individuals and organizations that will be very appreciative. Just don’t send them something so old it really belongs in the recycle center.
If the computer is too old to use recycle it responsibly. Staples will accept old computers to recycle as well as other manufacturers and local services.
Learn Using a Old Computer
An old computer might be great to learn how to upgrade and repair computers. Once you learn you might even be able to start a business doing upgrades and repairs for others.
A Different Operating System
Most older computers will run a different alternative operating system just fine and you can learn a lot in the process. First you should try Linux. My current favorite distribution is Ubuntu (www.Ubuntu.com,) but there dozens of others to try, including some with minimal hardware requirements (and most are free.)
Another Operating System that I have wanted to try is CloudReady by Neverware (www.neverware.com.) This installs a Chrome operating system and there is a free Home version.
Repurpose Your Computer as a Server
Why not build your own server and learn a lot in the process. FreeNAS provides a free operating system and is very popular (www.FreeNAS.org.) Another option is Tonido, which turns your computer into a personal Cloud Server (www.tonido.com.)
Why not turn that used PC into a Media PC? You might want to add a big hard drive for storage. They are coming down in price, even for a multi-Terabyte model. Check out the open source Kodi (www.kodi.tv,) which handles music. Movies, photos, and TV shows.
Kitchen or Guest PC
If the computer isn’t too old and has Internet access why not turn it into a guest, spare room, or kitchen PC? You won’t be as concerned if it gets messed up somehow and it might be much appreciated.
You can get software to turn that unused PC into a game machine for vintage games. Almost any old system has an emulator available if you do a little research. Pacman anyone?
Ok, I haven’t tried this one but some people turn old computer parts into genuine works of art. Just do a little online research and you will see what I mean!
You can learn a lot by building your own web server. Again, there is lots of information online if you search. (Google is your friend!) You might not use it for mission critical sites but give it a try.
If you and your friends are into games, your own games server might be just the ticket for that unused PC. There are some YouTube videos out there and web sites that show you how.
Distributed Computing Projects
There are numerous distributed computing projects out there that can use your unused computer’s processing power for research. Check out the following:
Many authors want the most basic uncluttered platform for writing. They especially find this useful for first drafts so the ideas can just flow onto the screen without any unneeded distractions. There are several applications out there for just that purpose. Why not use an available PC only for writing and put it in some location where you won’t be disturbed while you create?
Keep it as a “Antique”
Saved this one for last but if your “old” computer is anything special you might want to hang onto it for a couple decades. Consider what an original Apple computer is worth today!
As you can see there are many ideas for using older and unused PCs. There are many more in addition to those I mentioned out there, and you can invent more on your own. Certainly it is a case of more ideas than you possibly have time to pursue!
Have fun and good luck!