Ask LH: What Can I Do With An Old Server?

Dear Lifehacker, I have an old enterprise-class server that I’ve inherited from my office. It’s been replaced with a shiny new one, and it’s a little too powerful to just donate to charity. What can I do with it? Signed, Dumpster Diving IT AdminPhoto by Jamison Judd.

Dear Dumpster Diving IT Admin,

Congratulations! One of the perks of working as a systems administrator in a lot of data centers is that when the old servers are decommissioned, you get to use them for your own purposes, especially if the company is getting rid of them and just wants them out of the data centre.

There are a lot of things you can do with a rack-mountable server, even if you don’t rack-mount it. Since most servers are designed to be headless, there are a lot of great, out of the way uses for an old server or servers in your home that can help you learn something new, or make your life easier. Here are a few.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of things you can do with a spare server (or even multiple unused servers) by any stretch, but they’re great starter projects that can help you learn a lot without needing new, high-end technology to try them. Good luck, and let us know how your projects turn out!


PS: Do you have any additional uses for an old, decommissioned server that you can suggest? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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