How Not to Reuse a Windows ME Laptop

Geek!This is Christi’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Recently, I found several articles and videos discussing ways to reuse and recycle old laptops. Since I try to be an eco-friendly geek girl, I was certainly inspired with some ideas. There were a many variations on the idea including:

  1. Dismantling and selling the parts
  2. Making a digital picture frame
  3. Using it as a portable DVD player

We happen to have an old Compaq laptop packed away (it’s been taking up space and collecting dust). The operating system is Windows ME, and the hard drive is only 16 GB – so I knew there would not be a rush to get parts for it! But I was interested in turning it into a print server / media drive. The basic reasoning behind my decision was related to space, and laptops generally tend to use less electricity (compared to desktop). Another green advantage.

Yesterday, I took a trip to my favorite local tech store, where I purchased an Ethernet port adapter, a 500 GB hard drive and an enclosure. My plan was simple:

  • Strip the computer of almost everything but the operating system and printer.
  • Install the Ethernet card
  • Connect the External Hard dark
  • Connect the Laptop to the Network
  • Install Antivirus program
  • Set-up a Shared Folder connecting to the External Hard Drive
  • Set-up the Network Sharing

I had discussed the concept at great length with a few of my tech buddies who agreed that (in theory) it’s a wonderful idea. Well, that is if all went as planned! Everything was moving according to schedule until the installation of the antivirus utility, when the laptop went into super slow motion.

I tried several of the free AV suites (that still worked with Windows ME) without success. I even looked for one that I could purchase and install, but there weren’t many that did. The Taurus in me stubbornly insisted on trying to find a way to make the idea work – to no avail. I worked for hours yesterday (and almost all day today) before finally giving in to defeat.

I have not given up my plans to have that wireless print server and networked media drive. I will simply look to purchase a Netgear print server and connect it to my wireless router. For the media drive, someone mentioned using a hard drive to USB / Ethernet NAS Enclosure (which I am looking into this further).

So, from my experience, you now know how NOT to reuse a Windows ME laptop. CNET offers some advice on what to do with your old gadgets, including how to dispose properly of them. More than likely, I will follow one of their suggestions.

I love creativity so please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, or tips!