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Wednesday, November 13

Turn your old Crap PC to a useful stuff ...5 useful ways #NC

By on 19:34

1.Set It Up as a Light-Duty  PC

You can often use it for quick Web surfing and to check e-mail. Occasionally, kids  come down and do homework on the communal PC when they get tired of being cooped up in their rooms. This can work particularly well if you have networked storage somewhere in the house, so people can get to their files whether they're on a personal system or a communal one.
If you do have this type of communal PC, your first inclination might be to create separate accounts for each person. I've found this isn't really necessary. Since it's communal, no one really keeps private information on it.
The flip side is that you'll want security software that's as bullet-proof as possible. Since you have multiple users on one system, eventually someone, sometime, will hit a Web site that may attempt to download a Trojan horse or other malware.

2.Make It a Secondary Computing Server

If you're a content creator using a title like 3dsmax, Adobe After Effects or Sony Vegas, having another PC to help with distributed rendering chores can greatly speed up final renders for complex projects.
Each application handles distributed rendering a little differently, so you'll need to consult your documentation. But typically, you'll install a lightweight application on the secondary rendering system, which will take data and commands from the primary system and then return results when done. The main application on your production system, or a separate manger app, manages the rendering across multiple networked systems.

3.Use It for Old-School Gaming

Related to the idea of using an older system as a dedicated game server, consider repurposing that box for old school gaming. You can go as nuts as you want. For example, install Windows 98, so you can run those older Windows 95 and DOS games, if you have a bunch around. Note that this isn't as necessary as it used to be. Online services like Steam and Impulse are offering older games that have been rewritten to work under newer operating systems, and DOSBox lets you emulate a legacy DOS environment to get your classic gaming fix.

4.Use It as a Dedicated Game Server

Do you have a favorite multiplayer game? If so, check and see if it's a game where you can host a server on a local computer--you might consider making your old system a dedicated game server. Most multiplayer games capable of playing online often support dedicated servers.

5.Convert It Into a NAS or Home Server

If you're running a home network and have multiple users--you, your spouse, your kids--reuse as network-attached storage or even as an actual server may be just the ticket for an old system.

However, it's not just a matter of plugging an old PC into a network connection and starting it up. Most desktop systems aren't configured to be effective servers or storage systems. For one thing, they probably use too much power. You'll want to set BIOS power management to run cooling fans in quiet mode, if that option exists. You'll also need to set up the operating system so that it doesn't shut down at inconvenient times, yet run in a low power state when it's not being actively used.
Bear in mind that you'll probably want to run your server "headless" (that is, without a monitor), and sans keyboard and mouse as well. While you'll need a display and input devices for the initial setup, make sure the system will work properly without them. Having a scheduled reboot hang because the system halted during startup (it couldn't find a keyboard, perhaps) is annoying, to say the least.
Also, the operating system is likely not well suited for storage applications, particularly for multiple users. While Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 can function well as a storage repository for a couple of users, you'll want to take the time to create user accounts for each person who might need access. In some cases, you may want to set storage quotas.

A better solution would be to install a proper network operating system. One choice is Windows Home Server. However, that will cost you somewhat north of $100, and WHS may prefer newer hardware. An alternative is FreeNAS.
FreeNAS is open-source software designed to turn a PC into a network-attached storage device. It's based on FreeBSD, a UNIX variant. If you're uncertain whether you want to commit to an unfamiliar OS, FreeNAS can be downloaded as a LiveCD version. This is an ISO file which, when burned to a CD, will boot off an optical drive and run completely from memory. You can keep your old OS on the hard drive until you determine if FreeNAS is suited to your needs.

By NickCyber


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