How to Turn an Old Laptop Into a Server

Once you’re done using them, old laptops can end up just sitting in a closet or down in your basement, collecting dust. With this method, you’ll be able to repurpose that old laptop as a server from which you can access files from the various different computers on your home network.

Step 1: Direct your internet browser to and download the program for your system. Head to the downloads page and scroll down to the “Alternative Downloads” section. You’ll want to “download the current stable FreeNAS USB image.” Determine whether or not you are running a 32 or 64-bit operating system. As the site will tell you, it’s a good idea to have an 8GB USB drive to get the job done.

Step 2: Once it has downloaded, you will want to unzip the FreeNAS USB image and copy it to your desktop so it is easy to find. Then, insert your USB drive into the computer, and copy the image onto the drive.

Step 3: Restart your computer, and insert the flash drive. You will now need to boot your system from the flash drive itself, so you will need to get to the boot options menu before your computer fully boots up. Google your specific laptop or operating system to figure out how to do this. The process can differ from one laptop to the next.

You should soon get an option to either install FreeNAS as a partition or an embedded install. We recommend an embedded install. Once the installation is complete, a menu opens where you can edit your server interface. This includes adding usernames and passwords. The system should also give you the IP address for the server.

Step 4: Once you have been given the IP address, move over to a different computer on your network, open an internet browser, and type the IP address into the address bar. Doing so should take you to a web menu where you can set up and access your NAS!


There’s no sense in wasting old laptops. With the above process, you will be able to create a fully functioning home server from which you can access and share files across your home network.

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