Don't throw your old computer away when you buy a new one. Sara Edlington has plans for it
When you buy a new computer what do you do with your old one? Here are several suggestions:

Network your old computer to your new one. This is not difficult: you can use the built-in networking programs that come with Windows 95. You'll need two network cards, which cost about pounds 15 each, and cable to connect the two computers. You can then use the old computer to store large files or software and free up space on your main machine. You could also use it to play network games such as Doom.

Use the computer to run a bulletin board system, or BBS. This is a bit like running your own online service. You set up your own message areas, and other computer users dial into it and download files or leave messages. You will need a modem and BBS software; the easiest to use is the Wildcat system. The most popular BBSs tend to be those with a specialism, such as science fiction, or ones with plenty of chat areas. If you would like to see what a BBS is like, try the Pillarbox BBS by dialling 01709 517224 on your modem.

Turn your computer into a dedicated machine to run music, graphics, animation or multimedia. Or you may decide to use your new computer for this, and keep the old one for writing letters or producing spreadsheets.

Most sound cards come with software to allow you to record and play music files. You can even record a voiceover for a multimedia presentation. A huge range of music files and programs are available as shareware and freeware. You could even put your best efforts up on the Internet.

There are also plenty of animation and graphics packages around, ranging from the expensive but powerful 3D Studio to packages such as the Complete Animator and Animator Studio. Or you could use your own photos or video footage to create your own multimedia masterpiece. You can create slideshows and even screen savers - some people have used multimedia for their wedding album.

Net software can take up a lot of hard drive space, so you could dedicate your old machine to surfing. Downloading Web pages can be painfully slow. If they are coming through on a separate machine, you can get on with your work on your new computer.

Make your computer a one-machine publishing empire. Desktop publishing software is now cheap, and with a dedicated computer you can store hundreds of pieces of "clip art", photographs or drawings. Many DTP packages have add-ons for converting documents into HTML, the programming language of the Web.

Give your computer to your children. They can have their own safe Net connection and use the many programs created for kids. Many children are more inclined to do their homework if some of it can be done on their own computer.

Give it away. Schools and charities would love it, providing you erase all the data from your hard drive. Centres that help the disabled are particularly grateful for computers.