There are plenty of reasons for wiping everything off your computer or smartphone and starting fresh. You may be switching over to a new operating system, such as the upcoming Windows 8 for PC users. Sometimes, wiping your system clean is the last resort for devices that are severely riddled with bugs and other nasty stuff. And if you're planning on selling your device, wiping the system out is a must, since those used devices can still carry the previous user's personal data.

There are numerous kinds of operating systems and devices out there, so for the purposes of this report, I will just be focusing on Windows computers and iPhone for smartphones.

Wiping a computer clean involves a lot more than just moving all of your files off the computer and deleting all the programs. To really start over, you need to format the hard drive. This will erase all personal information from your hard drive and return it to the original out of the box settings.  Usually, this will be enough to serve your needs.

However, if you're using Windows XP or an earlier version of Windows, formatting your hard drive will only hide the information, it will NOT delete it. To really delete your information, you have to go in and wipe the hard drive clean as well. Wiping your hard drive clean will require special software and will take a bit more time, but it's the best way to ensure that all the information on your computer is gone for good. You can check out a step-by-step guide on how to wipe a hard drive here.

Wiping an iPhone clean is, thankfully, much easier. All you need to do is hook your phone up to iTunes and hit the "Restore" button. If you don't have access to iTunes, you can still wipe your system clean by selecting "Reset" under the "Settings" app on the main screen. The difference is that, if you use iTunes to restore your phone, it will also update the iPhone to the most current version in addition to wiping it clean. This is the preferred method of restoring your iPhone, especially if you plan on selling it.