14 tips to give your old laptop a second life

When you buy a new computer, you always end up with the old one and it is usually far from ready for the landfill. You can throw it away or give it away later, do something fun with it now! We describe fourteen projects for your old laptop.

Tip 01: Internet only

Linux is an uncanny word for many people and is seen as 'complicated'. This is an outdated idea. Linux is easy to install and has a good graphical shell. You can turn your old laptop into an internet computer with the right distribution (version). More and more services and programs work completely or partially on the internet, so you can access the documents and photos in your Dropbox or OneDrive via your browser. Of course, the popular browsers Chrome and Firefox are available and easy to install in Linux.

Now all you have to do is choose the right distribution. In order not to get bogged down in a lengthy list of pros, cons and preferences of users, we will keep it short: first try Ubuntu, a very popular distribution that is also easy to use by beginners. If your laptop can handle this, you have a nice operating system with which you can do a lot. Lubuntu, a lighter version, is recommended for slightly older laptops.

Tip 02: Photo frame

There are those who turn an old laptop into a DIY project, complete with jigsaws and topcoats. A popular project is a digital picture frame. We will not bore you with tips about fastening systems and suitable wooden frames, check YouTube for fun instructional videos. We would like to point you to John's Background Switcher. With this you can turn your Windows laptop into a beautiful photo frame. You can get the photos from your cloud storage, you can also specify local folders or show Facebook photos (of yourself or of friends). The photos are shown as desktop background.

With AutoHideDesktopIcons you can hide your icons and taskbar so that your desktop background can serve as a fullscreen photo changer.

Tip 03: Weather station

Everyone is familiar with buienradar and weeronline.nl is also popular. Opening the app on your smartphone is enough to gain insight into the current weather situation. You can also use your old laptop for this and have the device serve as a kind of weather station.

YoWindow is extremely suitable for this. The program has succeeded in displaying relatively boring information (the well-known numbers) fairly nicely. For this YoWindow uses an animation that represents the current weather. At the top of the screen you see a bar with the course of the day. YoWindow also shows a forecast for the coming days. YoWindow can be set as a screen saver so that the program information is displayed over the full screen.

Tip 04: Surveillance System

There are all kinds of solutions for sale to make your own camera surveillance system. You can also do it for free with an old laptop. You can use the internal laptop camera, but an IP network camera or USB webcam is better. A USB camera is the cheapest. In addition, you need a recording program, for example Sighthound Video. The program is free for one camera.

There are several paid upgrades to Sighthound Video for more cameras or if you want to view the footage on another device or over the internet. The free version can automatically record (with one camera) and saves the images. Sighthound Video does advanced motion detection with object recognition. For example, the program can distinguish people from things and use this information again for the recording function.

Power management

When using your old laptop, you should also consider the environment. A laptop consumes less power than a desktop PC, but if the device is on all day, this still consumes a lot of energy.

For some tips it is useful to adjust your Windows power management. In tip 2 we use the old laptop as a photo frame. Of course you don't want your screen to turn off. Are you using the system as a download machine as described in tip 7? Then the screen has to be turned off to prevent energy wastage. Everything that has to do with your power management can be found in your control panel. Want to completely disable everything related to power management? Then start Don't Sleep. As long as the program is running, your system will not go to sleep and your power management will be temporarily disabled.

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