Difference between Hardware and Software

The name hardware and software are closely related to the computer world. None of us from the technical field have ever missed these terms.

It’s good and important to know how they differ from each other.

The computer hardware is any physical component of your computer. Whereas, computer software is the systematic code and instruction written to run that program. Let us understand these terms by taking an example. Let us consider that you are reading this article on your monitor screen and accessing the contents by clicking through your mouse. And this article is available on your web browser. Here, monitor and mouse are the hardware devices and web browser is the software used under the running operating system.

Let us understand in detail what is the difference between hardware and software.

Difference between Hardware and Software in tabular form

Hardware Software
Hardware is the set of a physical component that helps in data processing. Software is the set of instructions given to the hardware.
Hardware is manufactured by using electronic circuits. Software is developed by compiling codes and instructions.
Since it is a physical device it can be touched. Since it is a compilation program it cannot be touched.
It is not harmed by the virus or malware program. It can be harmed by bugs or viruses.
If hardware is damaged it is repaired or replaced. If the software is damaged it is reinstalled and modified accordingly.
Four primary categories of hardware include input devices, output devices, storage devices, and internal components. Primary categories of the software include: system software, programming software, and application software.
A bunch of hardware components cannot run a computer. Software should be installed. The software can be executed without hardware.
Examples are keyboard, printer, mouse, monitor, etc. Examples are: web browsers, Microsoft product like office, media players, etc.

We have seen the differences in the easiest way as the name suggests. Now let us see more interesting facts about hardware and software in detail.

What is hardware?

Hardware is something that makes the computer work. It is the part of the computer where physical components can be touched.

The hardware allows the user to give instructions and obtain the output as per the given commands. It can be easily installed on your device and also up-gradation is easy. The hardware usually consists of integrated circuits, circuit boards, other electronics. The computer will not be existing without hardware components. Through hardware, we can give input to the computer. Also, these devices allow us to access more than one device at a time. It is divided into input devices, output devices, storage devices, and internal components.

Input devices: Input devices are the hardware components that transfer data/instruction to the computer. Let us consider an example of a keyboard. It allows you to enter the data through keys and the data entered is displayed on the monitor screen. More examples are microphone, light pen, scanner, joysticks, etc.

Output devices: On the contrary, output devices receive data from the computer. Examples are monitors, printers, speakers, sound cards, headphones.

Storage devices: As per their name, storage devices are the devices that are used to store data. They store data permanently until deleted. There is no loss of data when the power supply is cut. Some examples of storage devices are hard disk, CD, DVD, SD cards, solid-state drive, USB drive, and many more to count.

Internal Components: Internal components are the components that function inside the computer system. The central processing unit (CPU), RAM, ROM, graphics card, hard drive, motherboard are the components of a computer.

We have seen all the key points while discussing computer hardware. Now let us further see about computer software.

What is software?

This is more interesting to answer. Imagine that you have been dared to spare a day without mobile, laptop, internet and all the electronic gadgets around you. It is next to impossible! Softwares have enhanced our life to great extent and increased our standard of living. There is no doubt that the use of the software is not limited.

It has widely spread in e-commerce building, banking transactions, performing daily tasks through Microsoft office, attending virtual lectures from any corner of the globe, connecting with people through social networking sites, and the list will never end.

Coming to the definition part; Software is the set of instructions that performs useful tasks on computer systems.

Softwares are further divided into system software and Application software.

System Software: System software acts as an interface between hardware components and users. C, C++, Assembly language are the languages used to develop system software. Operating system, compilers, assemblers, device drivers, interpreters, come under system software.

Application software: This type of software is built to satisfy user requirements. They are also used to support particular organizational tasks.

For example, schools and colleges have a digital library to keep the track of books issued and students’ records. Examples of application software are Microsoft office utilities like word, excel, PowerPoint, that offer user different templates and functions for our needs.

These were the important points to be highlighted while discussing the use of hardware and software in our life.

No doubt this is the easiest and interesting yet important topic to be understood for computer users.

Shraddha Changune
SVKM’s Institute of Technology, Dhule


1. https://pediaa.com/difference-between-hardware-and-software/
2. https://www.javatpoint.com/hardware-vs-software
3. https://www.crucial.in/articles/pc-builders/what-is-computer-hardware
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_hardware

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