Making money from your computer when it is idle would be like finding a money tree for some. I have previously written about putting your idle computer to good use with distributed computing services like Folding@Home, SETI, and others. While those benefited organizations in need of processing power, it was largely a donation on your part. It seems the only way to generate money from your PC that is just sitting there would be to mine Bitcoins. A company called CPUsage is looking to change that. They are taking the concept of distributed computing (or grid computing) and coordinating it to be useful for companies that need it and then paying those computer owners who have donated their PC’s idle processing power.
While CPUsage is currently in beta and its demand for processing power has quieted down significantly in recent months, it provided an update in its November newsletter that a new version and new opportunities would be coming soon. An example from the beta works well to explain how CPUsage works. CPUsage was enlisted by the company GadgetTrak to put its partners’ PCs to work. GadgetTrak searches for lost or stolen laptops, cameras, and smartphones. To locate a missing camera, GadgetTrak received a serial number from the owner. CPUsage then used its distributed computing powers to search sites like Flickr for EXIF data that contained the missing serial number. It would then capture the photos, the GPS information, and any other details that might help track down the missing hardware.
As a CPUsage partner, you are rewarded points for every unit of processing power that you contribute. You can then cash those points out for other things. The only redeemable prize so far has been GadgetTrak’s service but more things are promised like gift cards and other services.
One common concern seems to be that the electricity bill for leaving your computer on all the time for CPUsage is that your electricity bill will outpace the rewards earned. CPUsage addresses that issue in a blog post demonstrating that they will outpay the electricity costs. Of course, this depends on how often your computer is left idle, how efficient its power supply is, and how much processing power is in the CPU.
I think CPUsage has a lot of potential. Not only for individuals with computers sitting idle while they’re sleeping or at work but also for organizations like cyber cafes, schools, libraries, and even businesses where idle computers could be sitting there unused depending on the traffic.
If CPUsage sounds like something you are interested in, you can sign up for a partner invite and get in on the next wave. I have been part of CPUsage for the past 7 months, have worked with the company to troubleshoot some issues with the virtual machine that makes CPUsage possible, and haven’t been bogged down by the program when I wanted to use the system. I’m excited for CPUsage to take the next big step that can really propel them but also make a lot of processing power more simply available to companies and organizations set to tackle a particular task. For more details visit www.cpusage.com.