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5 Useful Ways to Reuse an Old Router

Reckon it’s time for a new router? Maybe your new Internet Service Provider (ISP) has sent one out, or you simply fancy an upgrade. Either way, you’re faced with a problem:

What should you do with the old router?

In the case of switching your ISP, you’ll often be asked to return the older device. But if you have one kicking around the place, here are several uses for an old router.

What You Can Do With an Old Router

  • Build a Wireless Repeater

    What if your Wi-Fi network doesn’t extend across the full range of your home? Although you might opt for powerline Ethernet adapters, adding a second router into the mix is a good alternative.

    This means connecting the old router to your new wireless network, using the Wi-Fi signal. It can then share access to the Wi-Fi network, giving greater coverage. Although there may be some latency issues, this is a quick and easy way to extend your wireless network.

    It has various uses, from boosting your Wi-Fi signal around your home and letting you stream video to your tablet while chilling in the garden.

  • Guest Wi-Fi Connection

    If you have people regularly dropping in and using your wireless internet, why not give them their own network?

    This is like the wireless repeater project, but with a twist. The router connects to your existing, password-protected network, but gives password-free access to new devices.

    This will use the guest network feature of your old router. By default, this prevents guests from accessing other devices on your network.

    If this level of security isn’t enough, check the firewall settings on the main router to adjust.

  • Cheap Internet Radio Streamer

    Still, wondering what you can do with an old router?

    Why not enjoy your favorite radio stations on the internet? Some routers can be configured to play internet radio if you’re prepared to install OpenWrt or DD-WRT custom router firmware.

    You’ll need some other software, as well as a USB sound card to output audio.

    While not an easy build, and plenty of other internet radio options are available, this is still a great project. It gives you an insight into installing custom firmware, as well as an appreciation of how to stream music.

  • Use the Router as a Cheap Network Switch

    Most routers don’t have more than six Ethernet ports. With the increase in wireless technology around the home, this figure might even be as low as four. But with a clear need for devices to be connected over Ethernet, you might run out of ports.

    For example, online gaming with a console or PC is more reliable using Ethernet. Your TV decoder will provide better streaming over Ethernet than wireless.

    If you run out of Ethernet ports, you can add more with a network switch. It’s basically the networking version of a mains power bar, with additional ports plugged into one port on the router.

    Your old router typically has four or more ports, so connecting will instantly increase the number of ports available. You should disable wireless networking on the old router, to avoid conflicts.

  • Make Your Own VPN Router

    Old routers supported by custom firmware can be set up with VPN software. This means that if you have a VPN account with, say, ExpressVPN (MakeUseOf readers can save 49% on our top-ranked VPN choice), it can be set up on your router.

    Consequently, every device on your network is protected by a VPN. You don’t need to install individual client apps on your PC or mobile devices when connecting to a VPN through your home network.

    Note that some old routers have VPN provision, but this only works when they’re set to modem-only mode.

 

It doesn’t matter if you have a standard router or one with a modem built in. If you’re looking for ideas on what to do with an old broadband router or a standalone router, these are all great ways to repurpose it.

Even if the device misses key wireless features, you can still use it as a switch, or a guest network.

If none of this works, however, it might be time to consider selling or recycling the device.