If you’ve ever upgraded your PC or laptop, there’s a very good chance that the process involved adding more RAM. Improving hardware performance with more or faster memory is always a smart option.

But when you upgrade, something may remain: old RAM.

So what can you do with your old RAM modules? Can they be reused? Or redesigned? Should they be thrown in the trash? Here are seven ways to find a new use for old PC memory.

Dispose of old RAM chips

Upgrading your computer’s RAM is a great way to improve performance, usually by opting for faster RAM or more RAM. fast RAM or more

It’s unusual to get such promotions without having anything else. Often you will find that one or more RAM modules had to be removed in order to install new ones. Memory modules are usually installed in pairs, both with the same amount of memory, speed, and from the same manufacturer.

After all, your system can run as fast as your slowest RAM module. This physical necessity means there can be quite a bit of wasted RAM.

1. Use Old Ram to upgrade old computers

Upgrade a PC with old RAM chips
Image Credit: Edmund Tse via Flickr

In most cases, RAM removed from a PC or laptop can be reused on an old machine. If you take the time to check compatibility with the target device, it should be easy. When replacing RAM, you will need to take the same anti-static precautions.

But what kind of RAM are you using? And how can you know if the target machine will accept modules?

There are different types of RAM — DDRAM and SDRAM (including several types of DDR.B RAM) — each with different speeds. You also have multiple form factors: SIMM, DIMM, SODIMM. Our quick and dirty guide to RAM explains in more detail.

Several tools are available online to help you. You can use the Crucial Advisor Tool to select the target computer’s motherboard and processor combination. The tool will then advise which RAM modules to install.

You can also use the Crucial System Scanner, an automated version of the above. Your best bet is to run this on both computers and look for matches in RAM module compatibility.

If you have friends or family with an old PC or laptop that are in desperate need of a replacement, expanding your RAM is a great way to quickly increase your speed. You should also consider the lightweight Linux operating system.

2. Donate to a local school or Makerspace

How can you use old computer memory?
Image Credit: CSM Library via Flickr

However, the benefits of your old RAM modules may not just be tech relatives. Budget cuts mean local institutions (eg schools, churches, community centers) need whatever equipment they can get their hands on.

Naturally, there are processes to follow when donating hardware. In the case of RAM modules, this should be easy since they are volatile. This means that any data stored on them is lost when the power is turned off, unlike hard drives. (Discs require thorough cleaning and removal before sale or donation.)

Hobby spaces (also known as «makerspaces») are also great targets for RAM. There are many ways to reuse RAM modules, from learning the basics of building a PC to completely repurposing modules.

3. Connect old RAM to Arduino

In keeping with DIY or makerspace principles, why not plug RAM modules into an Arduino hobbyist board for extra storage?

Using solder, wires, breadboard, and code, RAM modules from the 1980s were successfully adapted for Arduino storage.

Admittedly, the 16 MB modules in the clip can only offer 256 KB to the connected Arduino UNO due to hardware limitations. Thus, this is not a big long-term project, but an area where interesting developments can be made.

It may require some specialized knowledge, but if you can team up with others, this is a project worth following. Guide for should help you get started.

4. Create a RAM disk

Reuse old memory on a RAM disk
Image Credit: AndreasCA via Wikimedia Commons

Another way to remap one or more RAM modules is to create a RAM disk. In fact, this is a device into which you can connect old RAM modules. Several have been produced over the years with varying degrees of success.

One such example is the Gigabyte i-RAM solid-state storage device (and its alternatives). All you have to do is insert compatible memory modules into your device and turn it on. Since RAM modules are volatile, such devices are equipped with a battery to safely store data when the PC is turned off.

Most such RAM disk devices resemble the PCI card above. If you can get one, it’s worth a try, but can be expensive as they are no longer made. This technology came to a standstill with the development of solid state drives, so physical RAM disks remain something of an unusual but great place for old RAM modules!

5. Make your own computer keychain chip

This is much easier than it might seem. All you need is a few keys (you can buy them in bulk on eBay) and a hand tool. You will also need a dust mask and goggles.

Desktop RAM modules are too long to use as a keychain, so you’ll probably have to cut them down the middle. The old laptop’s RAM should be fine as is.

Where you make the cut depends on two things: how many keychains you want from each RAM module, and where the holes are.

RAM modules almost always come with tiny holes perfect for slipping keys. This means you don’t have to worry about drilling — just cut, smooth edges and attach keys.

There’s a whole market for sites like Etsy, so take a look at what’s available and see how you can improve them.

In the meantime, if you have a spare motherboard, you might consider making laptop mats or covers. .

However, whatever you do, be sure to wear a mask and goggles! Dust that cuts through RAM modules is dangerous if inhaled, and shrapnel can cause blindness.

6. Freecycle old RAM modules

Freecycle your old RAM modules
Photo Credit: William Hook via Flickr

Another easier option is to just distribute the modules. Perhaps you could use Facebook or Freecycle [https://freecycle.org/]to tell the world that you have some RAM? Just be sure to tell them the type and what devices it will be the right extension for.

Alternatively, you can simply drop the modules at your local thrift store or church store. If they can’t use the modules themselves, they can sell them for a few dollars.

Hard to find interest? A quick listing on eBay with a minimum price (perhaps with free postage) might spark some interest.

7. Do not recycle RAM without paying

Of all the suggestions here, this is the most important: safe recycling is paramount. You don’t want equipment ending up in a landfill where chemicals can leak over time and cause environmental problems.

This means that if you choose to simply dispose of your RAM modules, then you will be doing so through a reputable organization. A quick online search will turn up local companies that you can pay a small fee for safe disposal.

Don’t be fooled by «free» recycling services. Essentially, they remove the old hardware for any serviceable/reusable parts and then dump what’s left in the landfill. Free recyclers can pick up your old RAM modules and use them, but there is no guarantee.

You have recycled your RAM: now what?

With seven different ways to recycle old RAM modules, you have no excuse to ensure they are safely reused.

Here are seven ways you can recycle or reuse your RAM:

Of course, you may be aware of some other uses for older RAM modules.

But you probably have some old technology cluttering up your home. So here are some ideas on what to do with this old router.

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