If you have an old machine sitting around about doing nothing, you might consider using it for a specific task that does not require today's modern resource requirements.
My Top Pick of alternate workstation usage must clearly be the solution shown on the left! I am sure you will agree.
A different idea though is to use such a machine as an exclusive dedicated torrent downloader (& uploader). The machine doesn't need to be very powerful; torrents and emules don't care about much except the speed of your connection. Most home users can't afford another direct inet connection, so it will normally have to share your current connection: the easiest way to do this is via a cheap hardware hub or router. Once setup, simply build a long list of torrents you want, and let it download 24/7. You may find it necessary to monitor your bandwidth if you lose normal surfing speed on your main machine, but this is easily rectified by simply pausing active torrents on the torrent-dedicated machine.
If you have several computers and users in your house (husband, wife, children) you could also us it as server for family files. If it runs Windows you can share files from that machine, e.g. a family photo album. You can then access those files from any other computer in the network.
An older laptop might be useful in the kitchen. You might want to watch news videos or other sources while cooking. Accessing cooking websites directly next to your oven might help to make the meal better. Such usage requires a good spot in the kitchen where the computer is safe from spills.
Let us know what you do with your ex-workstations. Leave a comment below.
This article is maintained by George