Like anything in the world of technology, PCs age and face obsolescence as faster new systems hit the shelves. For some frugal geeks, making the most of your hardware for the longest period of time is a must. Here are five tips to make your old machine feel like a new machine.

1: Consider Lighter Open Source Alternatives to Your Software
Unless you really need that bulky name-brand software installed to get your work done, you might want to consider switching to an open alternative. For example, Microsoft Office can be a real resource hog, but Open Office is geared to run even on the most underpowered of PCs.

On the OS side of things, Linux distros like Ubuntu and Xubuntu (for even older machines) are a great way to bring new life to an older PC. Windows Vista and 7 are great operating systems, but if you find idling with the latest service packs is eating up most of your resources, Linux may be an option for you.

2: Make Sure All Your Drivers are Up to Date
Sometimes, the culprit slowing your system down can be as simple as an out of date driver. When service packs come out, they can break or bog down an already existing driver. Hardware manufacturers are constantly tweaking their drivers so their devices work the best possible way. This can be as easy as updating the driver using Windows Update or taking a trip to the manufacturer’s website and checking when the latest driver was released.

3: Offload Unnecessary Tasks
Email, old software, quicklaunch programs, and other software may be running in the background, even when you don’t want it to. In most cases, you can turn off these services using the software’s preferences menu. Sometimes, you really don’t need 100 programs running the background to go about your daily life.

4: Update Your Desktop Theme
This may not speed up your system, but an update to your desktop theme can bring new life in how you perceive your computer. New icons, different background, and even something as simple as changing the Aero colors can make a difference in how your system looks.

5: Format and Reinstall
Over time, many computers become bogged down to the point where the options above really don’t make much of a difference. In this case, you may want to consider formatting the drive and reinstalling your system using a restore CD. What this will do, is bring your system back to the state it was when you first received it. The registry, hard drive, and drivers will all go back to the way they were on day one.

Over time, the system’s registry can become large as every program you install puts its credentials on it and some continue adding information over time. Should you uninstall a program, it may be leaving its information on the registry, causing your system to have to look through a larger file as time goes on.

One important thing to remember before doing this is to ┬áback up your data. Be sure to copy any important photos, videos, or documents over to a location that will not be affected by the format. When you do this, you’re essentially deleting everything off your drive and starting over.