How to make an old PC useful for someone else | Ask an expert

Q: I have to arrange an aged relative with a pc for instances when a smartphone doesn’t minimize it—printing data from web sites and paperwork, primarily. I’ve acquired an outdated machine from 2007 that also works, and it’ll should do since I’ve been ordered to not spend “any cash by any means” on this undertaking. Bought any recommendations on making this machine semi-pleasant to make use of? I’m prepared to spend a bit on hardware upgrades and lie about it later.

A: You shouldn’t have to drop a lot money on that machine to make it tolerable by fashionable requirements. Regardless of the age of that dual-core processor and low-end discrete graphics card, the combo can deal with internet searching (together with streaming video) and printing simply advantageous. You even have 4GB RAM, which is a adequate quantity for mild pc duties. The one hardware replace I like to recommend is changing the hard-disk drive with an SSD—a solid-state drive will make the pc really feel a lot newer and snappier. Lately, a name-brand 256GB SSD just like the Samsung 870 EVO prices $40, which ought to be sufficient area on your relative’s wants. (You will discover extra suggestions in our listing of one of the best SSDs.)

Whilst you’re contained in the PC, be sure you clear out any mud build-up—you don’t need obstructed airflow dragging down system efficiency. Additionally contemplate changing the outdated thermal paste on the CPU with a contemporary software if that’s in your consolation zone. (If you happen to don’t know what to get, Arctic Silver 5 is most individuals’s trusty fallback.)

On the software program facet, you will get by on solely free applications. You talked about that the PC at the moment runs Home windows, however not which model. Our greatest guess is that it’s a model already put to pasture (i.e., XP, Vista, or 7), so that you’ll want to change to a contemporary working system to maintain your relative protected against safety threats. Essentially the most simple resolution is switching to Linux—you possibly can select one in all a number of beginner-friendly Linux distributions (“distros”) to put in. Afterward, add Chrome or Firefox for internet searching, in addition to OpenOffice for opening doc information created in Microsoft Workplace.

Neverware CloudReady desktop start screen PCWorld

For some PC customers, Chromebooks or Chromeboxes are the higher steadiness of simplicity and performance. CloudReady lets you DIY one with your personal hardware.

Anxious that Linux could also be too technical or unfamiliar? Convert the system into a big Chromebox courtesy of Neverware’s CloudReady software. The PC will function a Chromebook in desktop pc type, which vastly simplifies the searching expertise. (You may examine methods to set up CloudReady in our “Find out how to flip an outdated laptop computer right into a Chromebook” article.) Your relative can view and print Microsoft Workplace paperwork via Google Docs or Sheets, in addition to use these cloud-based doc editors to create and edit information of their very own.

The ultimate possibility is that if in case you have a Home windows 7 license, you should still have the ability to convert it to a free Home windows 10 license. Alternatively, in case your relative occurs to be taking lessons at a neighborhood school, examine to see if it provides free Workplace 365 subscriptions to college students, like one in all our native junior faculties does. Home windows 10 will really feel slower than most Linux distros (and positively slower than CloudReady), but it surely’s onerous to argue with what might really feel most acquainted to the one that’ll use the machine. Pair this freebie model of Win10 with Chrome or Firefox, throw on a replica of OpenOffice for coping with Microsoft Workplace information, after which name it a day.

Regardless of which working system you selected, be sure you hold the variety of different put in applications to a minimal—don’t drag down the system with pointless background processes. That ought to make it even simpler to current a good working machine to your relative with out violating their orders an excessive amount of—and also you’ll relaxation straightforward realizing they’ll have a extra nice expertise.

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