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What to do with your old Mac minis?

Mac mini

The 2018 Mac mini just launched as the most powerful Mac (for the price), and it got a massive upgrade after four years of neglect. This is prompting a lot of folks to wonder if it's time to upgrade the Mac minis in their life. iOS and Mac app development teams are interested in upgrading their continuous integration (CI) infrastructure. Mac minis behind TVs, under desks, and in closets could also be good candidates for a refresh.

We've definitely seen a wave of customers making the upgrade here at MacStadium. If you're not familiar, we host over 8,000 Mac minis, Mac Pros, and iMac Pros in data centers around the world for huge businesses, small startups, and individuals that need a Mac "in the cloud."

So, what happens when the world starts upgrading Mac minis? It's slightly different from other technology refresh cycles for two main reasons: 1) The Mac minis from 2014 or even 2012 still run great! 2) The four-year gap since the last refresh means the new minis are way faster. This leaves us in a position where lots of people are upgrading minis, but the old minis still have a lot of life in them... so what to do?

We've put together a short list of ideas but would love to hear others. Have a good use for an old mini? Let us know! (#newlife4oldmini)

Swap or recycle minis as part of the Apple Giveback program. You can trade-in your mini with Apple in exchange for a store gift card or a refund on a new purchase. If your mini is in bad shape or isn’t eligible for credit, Apple will recycle it for free. Turn that old mini into something good for you, good for the planet, or both!

Give them away to kids, friends, or your local church or charity. Pay it forward – give new life to your old mini by passing it along to someone who can put it to good use.

Set them up behind a TV to run a dashboard or play movies. Here at MacStadium, we’ve been known to setup an old mini behind a TV or two. They are great for running sales dashboards, looping videos or slide shows, or streaming Apple keynotes on a big screen.

Setup your old mini as a media server. Use Plex to store and organize all your video, music, and photo libraries and stream them to your other devices.

Create a home automation node. Homebridge is a lightweight Node.js server you can run on your home network that emulates the iOS HomeKit API. It supports plugins that can bridge HomeKit to various "smart home" devices, allowing you to ask Siri to control devices that don't have any support for HomeKit at all. 

Use a mini as a controller for an art project or robot. Make your own Mobile Mac mini bot!

Setup a remote macOS desktop for when you're on the go (you can remote-in from an iOS device in your pocket). Check out “iPad Diaries” from MacStories. Federico shares great tips and tricks for accessing and controlling a Mac mini from an iPad.

Set a mini up as a backup server with a big USB hard drive. Mac mini, the perfect Time Machine backup destination.

Set your mini up as a web/file server. Brian Stucki published a great list of ways to use your Mac server… the possibilities are endless!

Of course, you could send in your old Mac mini for colocation at MacStadium so all of these powerful things can be done from the cloud. Or ditch the old Mac mini and sign up for a brand new, shiny, space gray version at MacStadium. See how easy it is to get started with a 24-hour free trial.

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