Use Your Computer’s Idle Time To Do Good

boincThere are probably times when you leave your computer for some reason, but believe you are going to be back quickly and decide it’s not worth the time or effort to turn it off. When you return, you probably find your screen saver running.

If someone told you that you could use your computer’s idle time to do good such as cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars or do other types of scientific research, would you? That is exactly what Boinc projects allow you to do.

Basically, there are certain things in science that need huge amounts of computing power to solve and that can cost tremendous amounts of money. The idea of using the unused computing power of regular computers helps solve this issue. While each computer would be doing very small calculations, with thousands upon thousands of computers all doing it together, huge calculations can be rendered without the cost of a super computer.

There are 25 current projects to choose from and you can help out on multiple projects if you want. I personal have my computer set to help out on the malaria control, SETI space and climate prediction projects, but there are also many other worthy projects on the list. All you need to do is download the Boinc software to your computer (takes a few minutes) and once it has been installed and is running, it allows you to choose the projects you want to help out with.

When you have a few free minutes, download the Boinc software and set up your computer to help out when it has spare resources to give. Then leave a comment to let us know which of the projects you chose, what you think about the entire project or any questions you might have about it. Of course, each comment also adds 10 cents to the microloans being funded here.

If you enjoyed this post or the blog in general, please sign up for the rss feed (and add another 25 cents toward a microloan) and take the time to tell others who may also enjoy it – doing good is something that anyone can do for little to no money and the more that are willing to participate, the faster we can fund these microloans.

19 thoughts on “Use Your Computer’s Idle Time To Do Good”

  1. Of course the problem with using so-called ‘idle time’ is that you end up using more electricity, which costs more and mostly likely contributes to climate change. I’ve contributed to distributed projects in the past, but would need to find something truly worthwhile to consider contributing today.

  2. This is very interesting. I was expecting it to be complicated, but it’s actually very easy to set up. Right now I’m starting with just one project, The World Community Grid.

    I think it should be mentioned that you don’t have to be idle to run the program. FYI, if you only want to it run while idle you’ll have to change the preferences. Otherwise it will run all the time (but can be easily paused).

    @Raine: Yes, you just need to be careful with overheating. Would I leave it running while I’m on vacation? Of course not. A couple hours? Sure. You know what your laptop can handle. Though I wouldn’t suggest running it while you’re on your battery for practical purposes.

  3. I’ve been running SETI since before BOINC, and now am running SETI and Rosetta@home (protein structure research).

  4. I just signed up for World Community Grid. The Malaria project was not accepting at this time.

  5. If you do a search on you will find we had a discussion about BOINC last year sometime – quite a few at KF are signed on to different projects. Thanks for the reminder though, I had meant to do something but had forgotten 🙂

  6. I would like to mention the nonprofit GridRepublic which is an easy way to get started with BOINC and find all the projects. It is working in collaboration with BOINC to create a simple point and click way to choose and control BOINC and your computers contributions.

    Also BOINC works on Windows, Mac, Linux and if you’re motivated other systems. There are many worthwhile projects and GridRepublic makes it easy to use. Learn more at //

  7. I’ve heard of this sort of thing but still don’t really trust it. You’re basically installing malware but for good? Sorry, no.

  8. If SETI had been stealing personal info from everyone’s computer they’d be a total power house of wealth and marketing information by now. I’m pretty sure these groups are just doing research.

  9. I think one of my friends is running this, if not something similar. I like the idea, and am definitely going to check it out!

  10. Thanks for posting this, I’d been wondering how to set this up and had been too lazy to search for it. I’m now signed up and running.

  11. was wondering how seti was still doing. My mom had it running on her old computer a few years ago and I never found out if it had any results.

  12. A project similar to Boinc is… You can choose from 4 charities and it can run directly from your web browser or as a Windows/Mac/Linux application. As you use the program it tells you how much food, water, education or rain forest land you have donated so far.

  13. For those concerned about using excess electricity while running BOINC, here are my thoughts – most of the wear on a computer comes from the power fluctuations during the startup and shutdown cycles. Your computer will last much longer if you leave it running as much as possible, and the extra electricity used is far offset by the savings in longer-lasting computer components. So, if your computer’s going to be running anyway, why not use it for scientific research?

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