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Creative ways to repurpose your old Windows-based computer

Do you have an old Windows-based computer you no longer use? Maybe you got a new one and just do not know what to do with your old system. Here are a few creative ways to repurpose your old Windows-based computer.

Creative ways to repurpose your old Windows-based computer

Are you tired of your old Windows-based computer collecting dust in the corner of your room? It's time to give that outdated device a new lease on life by repurposing it for other uses. With some creativity and basic technical skills, you can turn your old machine into a valuable tool for various tasks.

For this article, I will reference the two (2) types of networks you can use your repurposed computer on: Internet and Intranet.

  • Internet: A global system of interconnected public networks. The Internet is a type of Wide Area Network (WAN).
  • Intranet: A private network for sharing files and printers that you cannot access from the Internet. The Intranet is a type of Local Area Network (LAN).

The first thing we need to address is the version of Windows the computer you want to repurpose is running. The version of Windows your computer is running should dictate what you should use it for. Older versions like Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 no longer get security updates and should only be used on your Intranet and kept off the Internet when possible.

Intranet uses

The most popular use of a spare computer is as a server. There are several different types of servers, so let's take a quick look at each type.

Home Media Server: If you have a large media collection of movies, TV shows, or music, you can turn your old computer into a home media server. By installing Plex or Kodi, you can stream your media to other devices in your home, such as a smart TV or mobile device. This can save you from purchasing a new media server or subscribing to a streaming service.

Plex: Stream Movies & TV Shows

Kodi: Open Source Home Theater Software

File Server: If the computer you are repurposing has a drive with plenty of free space, you should consider using it as a file server. In just a few minutes, you can share folders and files between devices on your Intranet. Not only can you share folders and files, but you can also use a file server to back up your various Windows-based computers.

How to share a folder on a private network

How to backup your Windows 11 computer using Windows Backup and File History

Backup your files with File History and Windows Backup in Windows 10

Print Server: Do you have an older printer with only a USB or LPT port and would like to share it with other computers on your Intranet? Just set it up on your repurposed computer, then go to the Devices and Printers section of the Control Panel and right-click on the printer you want to share.

From the context menu that appears, left-click on Printer properties and then select the tab labeled Sharing. Place a check mark in the Share this printer checkbox and give the printer a share name. Your printer should now be ready to share on your Intranet.

Web Server: If you are interested in web development or want a testing server for your website, Windows has an extensible web server called IIS (Internet Information Service). This feature is not installed by default but can be quickly installed by simply turning it on. Just go to the Programs and Features section of the Control Panel and select Turn Windows features on or off.

Internet uses

Gaming Rig: If you're a gamer, you can repurpose your old computer into a gaming rig. While it may not be able to handle the latest games, you can still play older titles or retro games. You can also install emulators, like DosBox, and play classic console games on your PC.

How to use DOSBox to run old DOS games and programs

You can access some old software and play old video games at the Internet Archive. They have all sorts of older software, games, books, movies, and, of course, the Wayback Machine. This is one website you could spend hours, if not days, exploring.

Download old software and play old video games at the Internet Archive

Dedicated Streaming Machine: If you're a streamer or content creator, you can use your old computer as a dedicated streaming machine. By installing OBS or XSplit, you can capture and stream your gameplay or other content to platforms like Twitch or YouTube. This can be a great way to start your streaming career without investing in expensive equipment.

Open Broadcaster Software | OBS

XSplit: Livestreaming and Webcam Enhancement Tools

Education and Learning: Finally, you can use your old computer for education and learning. You can use websites like Khan Academy, Duolingo, or Coursera to learn new skills or brush up on your knowledge. You can also use your old computer to teach your children or grandchildren basic computer skills or programming.

Khan Academy | Free Online Courses, Lessons & Practice

Duolingo - The world's best way to learn a language

Coursera | Degrees, Certificates, & Free Online Courses

In conclusion, there are many creative ways to repurpose your old Windows-based computer. By giving it a new life, you can save money, learn new skills, and make your life more productive. So, dust off that old machine and start exploring the possibilities.

Download old software and play old video games at the Internet Archive

Have you ever wanted to play an old video game from your past? Maybe play Pitfall on the Atari 2600 or Super Donkey Kong on a Colecovision? You can all that and more at the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive logo

The Internet Archive (IA) is an online digital library with free ebooks/text, videos, audio recordings, software, and images. But they are best known for their history of websites for over 20 years.


The IA has an impressive archive of websites going back over twenty (20) years. Search the Way Back Machine for or, and you can find their very first websites. I found one of the early versions of my first website from 1998.

But since these pages are cached versions of the originals, some elements might be missing. Photos, videos, and Flash / Java elements have a tendency not to get cached. But it's still fun to see what the Internet looked like a couple of decades ago.

eBooks and Text

With over ten million titles in their library, you would be hard-pressed not to find something that interests you. Keep in mind that some of these titles are old, but you can still see all sorts of cool publications. Hey, where else are you going to find a copy of Family Computing from December 1983?

The cover of Family Computing from December 1983
The cover of Family Computing from December 1983

The IA even has the ebooks/texts broken down into collections. I found a copy of The Principle of Relativity from 1920 in the MIT Library. There are all sorts of hidden gems here. All you have to do is search through them. And with over 10 million titles, that may take some time.


This is my second favorite collection, and I have spent hours going through them. There are films, movies, and videos ranging from old-time movies to classic cartoons. When was the last time you saw an old Popeye or Woody Woodpecker cartoon?

And if you're a computer geek like me, you'll love the Computer & Technology collection. From old episodes of the Computer Chronicles and Net Cafe to made for TV movies like the Pirates of Silicon Valley from 1999. With over 2 million titles, you know I'll be spending more of my free time going through them.


The collections here range from old-time radio programs like Dragnet from the '50s to Grateful Dead concerts from the '70s. The quality of the audio will vary from file to file, but that is to be expected. Some of these recordings are quite old.

Also mixed into this collection, you'll find audiobooks and poetry readings. I even found some recordings from the Spin Doctors and the Gin Blossoms. With around 3 million audio files, there should be something for everyone.


Now I guess that I don't have to tell you that this is my favorite collection of all. The software here ranges from video game consoles from the '70's - '90's to old DOS and Windows games/programs. Most of the DOS games and video game consoles are emulated, so that you can play these games right from inside your browser.

The Atari 2600 version of Pitfall
The Atari 2600 version of Pitfall

Does anybody remember Tucows? Tucows was the place in the '90s to go for shareware/freeware software. Well, they donated all of their software titles a decade or so ago to the IA, and they are all here available for download.

The Colecovision version of Super Donkey Kong
The Colecovision version of Super Donkey Kong

Now you can download most of the Windows software, but be aware that some are 16-bit and will not run on 64-bit operating systems. If you want to run some of the old Windows software, you will need to set up a virtual machine like VirtualBox running that particular operating system.


This collection is a mixed bag. You have images from the USGS (United States Geological Survey), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and album cover art all in one place.

But the best image collection, I think, is the one from NASA. Some of the images are quite incredible. If you get a chance, check out the Moon - False Color Mosaic image.

Now before you go checking the IA out, I want to let you know that they are a non-profit organization (501C), and all donations are tax-deductible. So if you find it useful and fun as I do, please donate.

To get the most out of the IA, it is recommended that you register for a virtual library card. For more information on the Internet Archive, follow the link below.

Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine

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