3 tips for getting extra use out of your old devices

It seems like today as soon as you’ve purchased the latest shiny new gadget, there’s a newer shinier model waiting just around the corner to replace it. When you couple this with the fast-paced consumer-centric lifestyle that many of us lead, the amount of electronic waste starts to become enormous.

Read more: How many gadgets do you think your smartphone replaces?

However, most of the electronic devices that we throw out are still in perfectly good working order, if running a little slower than they used to, and even if they are damaged you could still potentially find new uses for them or their component parts.

There’s no reason that an older gadget should automatically be consigned to the rubbish heap and the tips listed below should help you to get some extra use from your old devices.

Repurpose

More often than not, the reason we get rid of our older devices is that over time they’ve gotten a lot slower than they were when we bought them. Updates that are not optimised for the hardware and heavier apps are likely to contribute to the slowdown, but there’s still plenty you can do with your device.

Smartphones, in particular, are one of the most commonly replaced pieces of kit, but when your next upgrade comes along why not repurpose your old handset rather than throwing it away? Old Android devices can be turned into bespoke music players, portable gaming devices, or a Skype phone.

Alternatively you could transform your handset, or tablet, into a webcam, digital photo frame or a bedside alarm clock.

Of course, all of these options require some degree of technical know-how, but if you’ve got the time they are a great way of educating yourself about technology and software.

Salvage for parts

Despite your best efforts, sometimes the wear and tear of daily use takes its toll on your computer or smartphone and it finally breaks. At this point, it is often tempting to put the whole device in the bin and look for a replacement.

However, there may still be plenty of fully functioning parts that could prove useful in a DIY-tech project or make you some extra cash.

Laptops are particularly useful for salvage operations as they are usually relatively easy to take apart. Your old HDD or SSD, for example, can be turned into external hard drive, meaning that you get some extra storage for free and don’t have to worry about making sure all your personal data is removed before selling or disposing of your old laptop.

The process of removing your hard drive will vary depending on your laptop model, but once completed, you’ll simply need a USB enclosure and adapter and it’s ready to use.

Other parts that you may want to keep hold of or sell from your laptop or PC include your battery and power supply, providing they both still work, your RAM, CPU and display.

Upcycle

Even if you’re not the most technology-savvy person, you may still be able to find a new use for an old piece of kit through upcycling.

Indulge your creative spirit and turn an old computer monitor into a fish tank or lamp - someone even managed to turn their old computer tower into a coffee machine. The only limit placed on what you can create is your own imagination, so if you need a hobby, upcycling your old gadget could be just the trick.

Read more: Here’s how to get more life out of your old PC

If upcycling isn’t your thing however, you could go down the old-fashioned recycling route and donate your device to charity. There are plenty of organisations that repurpose older hardware with a lightweight operating system like Linux for educational purposes in developing countries.