Do you get excited hearing about the newest technological device coming out? Of course you do! But when that new device is a replacement for your old one, you are faced with the age-old question, “What should I do with the old one?” If your latest device is a new router, these quick ideas will get you thinking about how you can reuse your old routers without just tossing them out.
1. Wireless Repeater
If your Wi-Fi network doesn’t reach into every part of your home, you can use the old router as a wireless repeater. A repeater is a device that creates an access point that bounces a wireless signal to your new network router. When you set one up at the edge of your router’s range, a repeater extends the range of the signal so that the signal can reach every area of your home.
You can even use it to extend the range outside. Because of the transfer of data between two points, setting up a wireless repeater can have some noticeable latency issues.
2. Guest Wi-Fi
Not all routers have a secure guest mode built into them. If you want your guests to have access to the Internet when they visit but don’t want them to have access to the devices on that network, you can put your old router to use as a guest Wi-Fi. You can set it up so that they don’t even need a password if you’d like.
3. Network Switch
With the increase in devices that need an Ethernet connection, you can run into trouble because most routers have six or fewer Ethernet ports. Instead of buying a new network switch to increase the number of Ethernet ports, just connect your old router to the new one and use the ports it provides. Your old router must be DD-WRT compatible to do this, and the only extra item you need is an Ethernet cable.
4. Wireless Bridge
A wireless bridge is different from a wireless extender because it connects more than one network of signals. These networks are usually physically separated, like in various offices of the same company. It allows them to work as separate connections, so the traffic doesn’t overwhelm a single network. Reuse your old routers to create different networks in your home or small business.
5. Smart Home Hub
If your old router has a serial port, you can repurpose it as a home automation server. When you do this, your router runs a web server that you access with your browser. This project is not an easy thing to do, but if you like a hands-on approach to technology, this project will give you a better understanding of home automation.
6. NAS Drive
Want to store data on a single storage device and access it from anywhere in your home? You can use a NAS (network attached storage) device connected to your old router. You need a router that can run custom firmware and has a spare USB port. The router also must allow you to browse the contents of the device. With this set up on your network, you can use any device to access the files on the NAS.
7. VPN Connection
Many older routers will not have the ability to create a VPN, but if yours isn’t that old, it is a possibility. Check your router manufacturer’s details to see if this is an option for you. This can be a great addition to your home network, especially when shopping online or working remotely.
If you have a business or other location where you want to allow guest access, you can turn the old router into a hotspot. You can configure the hotspot with a captive portal that makes the users agree to your terms, see ads, or make payments before continuing.
Bonus: Help Others
You don’t have to reuse your old routers in your home. If none of the above sound like good options, consider donating your router. If it still works well, it could be a great addition to a local small business, school, or non-profit organization. In fact, consider donating or recycling your old electronics whenever possible.
If you enjoy tinkering with technology and hate to see a good piece of equipment headed for the recycling bin, you may enjoy trying some of these projects to make your home or business network work harder for you.