Difference between Hardware and Software

Key Difference between Hardware and Software

  • Hardware is a physical device that is required to store and execute (run) the software, while the software is a collection of instructions that allows the user to interact with the Hardware to perform a specific task.
  • Hardware devices are used to do the task at the machine level, whereas software is used to give instructions on what kind of work the hardware should do based on its type.
  • Hardware is divided into Input, Output storage, and external components, and software can be divided into System software and Application software.
  • Examples of common hardware are Keyboard, Mouse, Printer, Monitor, Hard disk, RAM, ROM, etc., while examples of common software are MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, MySQL, etc.
  • Hardware cannot be transferred from one place to another electrically using a network, but you can transfer software electronically.
Hardware vs Software
Hardware vs Software

What are Hardware?

Hardware is a physical device or a component of a computer that is physically connected to the computer. These are the primary electronic devices used to build up the computer. Examples of Hardware are a computer Processor (Central Processing Unit), Memory devices (RAM), Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, and storage devices (HDD or SSD).

Without Hardware, computer devices cannot function, and software would have nothing to run on. Hardware and software interact with each other, and the software tells Hardware which tasks it needs to perform.

What are Software?

Computer software is a set of instructions or programs designed and developed to perform specific tasks. IT professionals create customized programs that can be used in specific areas of our day-to-day life. These types of software or programs are helpful to perform specific tasks and reduce human efforts immensely.

Differences between Hardware and Software

Here are some important points that distinguish Hardware and Software:

Hardware Software
Hardware is a physical device that are required to store and execute (run) the software. The software is a collection of instructions that allows the user to interact with the Hardware and command it to do a particular task.
Hardware devices are used to do the task at the machine level Software are used to give instruction what kind of work the Hardware should do based on its types.
Hardware is dependent on software as it starts to function once the software is loaded. The software provides Hardware instructions to do a particular task, so without Hardware, the software cannot complete the task.
Failure of Hardware is random. Software failure happens because of systematic error, major-minor version error, etc.
Hardware wears out with time. The software is durable, and it does not wear out with time. However, bugs may arise in the software, which could be rectified.
Hardware are tangible. Software are intangible.
Hardware works as the delivery system for software solutions. Software is not needed for the Hardware to perform its basic level tasks like turning on and responding to input.
It has four main types of categories: Input, Output storage, and external components. It can be divided into System software and Application software.
It cannot be transferred from one place to another electrically using a network. You can transfer it electronically.
If Hardware is damaged, you need to replace it with a new one. Whereas if the software is damaged, you can install a backup copy from CD/DVD, USB, or web.
Examples of common Hardware are Keyboard, Mouse, Printer, Monitor, Hard disk, RAM, ROM, etc. Examples of common Software are MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, MySQL, etc.
Viruses cannot infect Hardware. Viruses can infect the software.

Types of Hardware

Here are the four most important components of Hardware:

  • RAM

    The definition of RAM is Random-Access Memory, which is generally known as a math user in the system’s main memory. It is also called temporary memory or cache memory. The information stored in this type of memory is lost when the power supply to the PC or laptop is switched off.

  • ROM

    The definition of ROM is Read-Only Memory, which is a permanent type of memory. Its content is not lost when the power supply is switched off. The computer manufacturer decides the information of ROM. It is permanently stored at the time of manufacturing, which the user cannot overwrite.

  • CPU

    The Central Processing Unit, popularly known as the CPU, is responsible for almost all computer operations. It performs arithmetical and logical operations, including addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, logical operations, etc.

  • Motherboard: Motherboard is the heart of the computer, which holds all the machine’s main components and one printed circuit board. These components are generally CPU, hard drive, transistors, RAM and expansion slots, PCI slots, USB ports, etc., which are placed on the motherboard.
  • GPU: Graphics Processing Units are very similar to CPUs, except that they are specialized in handling images and graphics.

Type of Software

We are living in an age of information technology. Software is a program or set of programs that perform some specific operations. There are mainly two types of software:

  • System Software
  • Application Software

System Software

System Software is a set of programs that control and manage the operations of computer hardware. It also helps application programs to execute correctly.

System Software helps the computer to control the operation and extend the processing functionalities of a computer system. It also makes the computer’s operation fast, effective, and secure. Example: Operating system, programming language, etc.

Application Software

Application Software is a program that does real work for the user. It is mostly created to perform a specific task for a user.

Application Software acts as a mediator between the end-user and System Software. It is also known as an application package. This type of software is written using a high-level language like C, Java, VB.Net, etc. It is user-specific and is designed to meet the requirements of the user.

You can also install multiple application software on single system software. You can store this kind of software on CDs, DVDs, flash drives, or other storage devices. Example: Microsoft Word, Media Player, Database, etc.

Important hardware components

Here are some important hardware components:

Input Devices

A keyboard is a hardware device that allows the user to input data. The layout of the keyboard closely resembles a typewriting machine with additional keys. A mouse is also an input device that consists of three elements: 1) Left click, 2) Right-click, and 3) Rolling wheel.

According to your mouse movement, you can control the position of the cursor on the screen. Joysticks, Light Pen, Scanner, and Barcode reader, are some common examples of input devices.

Output Devices

Output devices are the peripheral devices that mostly receive data from the computer and display the results to the user. It can be a display (Monitor), projector, or any other device.

The monitor is an example of an output device that displays the data or visuals from the computer. Another output device is a printer that helps you to print the details into paper.

Secondary Storage Devices

Secondary storage devices store the data until the data is overridden or deleted. These devices store data permanently, so it is known as nonvolatilizable memory.

Moreover, switching off the power never deletes the data in secondary storage devices. Hard disk, CD, DVD, SSD are some common examples of secondary storage devices.

  • Hard drive/flash drive: Hard drives, or persistent storage, is a computer device that saves data (like photos, files, videos, etc.) for extended periods, even if no power is supplied. Memory software comes in the form of older magnetic disks or newer SSD drives, or “flash” type storage devices.
  • Expansion cards/slots: Expansion cards are another essential component that allows the computer to be expanded and upgraded with functionality over a specific time period. You can add expansion cards to the motherboard.

Can you have Hardware without the software?

While a computer cannot run without Hardware, however, the software is also needed for Hardware to operate. For example, your favorite video game or video conferencing platform are both examples of software that needs computer hardware, like video cards, memory, processors, monitor and sound devices, to work how you want it to work.

Can you have software without Hardware?

In some situations, a computer can run without software being installed. However, if an interpreter or operating system is not found at that time, it either shows an error or does not output any information. A computer needs, both the user and software, to interact with the computer hardware.

Installing programs onto the computer and operating system is necessary for the computer’s additional capabilities. For example, a word processor is not needed, but it allows you to create documents and letters very easily.