Old Dell 8200
July 28, 2008 11:46 AM   Subscribe

What to do with my old Dell tower 8200? I have this Dell 8200 Pentium 4 2.80 GH 512mb 128GB hard drive that is in good working condition that I no longer need. Can it be used as a movie storage, data storage or what are your ideas?
posted by robbyrobs to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could set it up to only deal with media, playing as well as storage.

If you have a business it could be dedicated to that.

If you have a kid you could give it to them so they don't tie up the family machine.
posted by theichibun at 12:33 PM on July 28, 2008

Getting a USB HDD enclosure would make a nifty USB drive. Otherwise sell parts on eBay ^_^
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2008

It would make a decent iTunes server: install Firefly Media Server, and iTunes will find it and stream from it.
posted by scruss at 1:01 PM on July 28, 2008

posted by limon at 1:13 PM on July 28, 2008

...am slightly confused as to whether you have a computer or the hard drive from a computer. Assuming the former:

- Media servers aren't hard to set up and give you a nice way of watching movies and the like. The hard drive is plenty big enough to do something I've always wanted to do, which is rip my DVD collection to a media server so I can play them without having to go and fetch the actual disc. Ubuntu is a nice distro and fairly easy to use, or you can use Windows. Google "home media server" for plenty of ideas.

- Donate processor cycles to folding@Home or some worthy project!

- Set it up as a network file server -- again, I like Linux with Samba if you want to talk to Windows. That'll let you set up backups onto the server or store files there. I have this set up on a computer downstairs and use it for exactly that.
posted by katrielalex at 1:29 PM on July 28, 2008

P.S. http://ask.metafilter.com/74924/Possible-uses-for-idle-XP-box
posted by katrielalex at 1:31 PM on July 28, 2008

Put it through a kill-a-watt and verify that whatever you're going to use it 24/7 for is worth it for your pocketbook?
posted by bertrandom at 2:55 PM on July 28, 2008

If you go the media server route, it's well worth leaving aside a bit of hard drive space for backups from your new machine - I use rsync to copy all my work and financial records files over to my media server machine every night, and after a hard drive failure on my laptop, this really saved my bacon.

But as bertrandom says, running a computer if you don't really need to is expensive/environmentally dodgy, so recycling or donating it might be the best bet. Which reminds me that I don't really need to run my own spare computer ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 3:29 PM on July 28, 2008

I was in the same situation last year with the exact same machine. I considered all the options listed above, and eventually sold the thing. My inner geek salivated at the power and expansion options, but in the end, a new mac mini will do twice the work and use half the power.
posted by limited slip at 4:00 PM on July 28, 2008

> but in the end, a new mac mini will do twice the work and use half the power.

Keep in mind, however, that if the alternative is buying a new computer, the new one will have a "manufacturing debt" or "handicap" to overcome: energy is required (as well as many other resources, e.g. clean water, carbon) to manufacture a new computer. That should figure into your mental calculations if environmental impact is a concern.

The decision is very similar to deciding whether to continue running a used car that you already own, or to sell it and buy a brand-new but more efficient one. (Cf. this AskMeFi.)

Unfortunately, manufacturers aren't required to disclose the energy that goes into producing a new machine, so at best you'd have to use a rough estimate. This page quotes this site, which in turn references this paywalled IEEE article, claiming that the manufacturing process for a new computer is roughly equivalent to running that same computer, 24/7, for 10 years. (The article is dated 2004, so it's probably years of a P4-era computer, not a modern high-efficiency one, either.) That's a fairly substantial debt/handicap, and it would make me at least consider running the old machine for a while as a test, to see if you really need it (and will need it for long enough) to justify the purchase of a new machine.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:44 PM on July 28, 2008

Donate it to people that need it more than you do.
posted by jozzas at 10:26 PM on July 28, 2008

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