Trying to understand, but still pretty complicated

I have an old laptop from 2008 with an AMD Turion Dual Core 2.1GHz Processor running Windows 7 Home Premium. What I want to do with it is use it for is just torrents and stream to all my computers/phones/xbox I bought a new 3TB extHD to connect to it so I don't use up my main rigs storage.

I would like to run a VPN just on it too. I'm trying to understand how to use them. Seems like I can just buy one but seeing how I'm using a 7 year old pc I really don't want to spend money. I kind of need a ELI5 for what I'm wanting to do.

For anything that you're going to dedicate to a specific purpose, I would always recommend a fresh install of windows so that you don't have any junk or bloatware behind the scenes hogging performance. As far as torrents, Transmission is a good client, and has a nice web manager which you could use on other devices in and outside of your network. As far as media, Plex Media Server is a must.

For a VPN, there are plenty of free options out there but are going to usually have very restricted bandwidth. I would recommend OpenVPN however.

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Also having more than 1 NIC or more than 1 eth interface on the NIC would be best. 1 for your external connection (VPN) the other for your LAN.