Difference Between Hardware and Software & their Comparison

Every computer is composed of two basic components, that is, hardware and software. One of the basic differences between Hardware and software is that Hardware includes Physical features of the computer which can be seen or touchedfor example, the monitor, CPU, keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. The part which activates the hardware by giving a set of instructions is called Software. The other difference between hardware and software is that hardware cannot be infected by viruses whereas software is infected by viruses.

Difference Between Hardware and Software

The difference between hardware and software is that Hardware is tangible as hardware is a physical electronic device, that can be touched whereas Software is intangible as we can see also use the software but cannot touch them. Also, another difference is with respect to development, hardware is manufactured while software is developed and engineered. Further, other differences are tabulated below.

Basic DefinitionHardware is a physical part of the computer that causes the processing of data.Software is a set of instructions that tells a computer exactly what to do.
DevelopmentIt is manufactured.It is developed and engineered.
DependencyHardware cannot perform any task without software.The software can not be executed without hardware.
Process of creatingElectronic and other materials is used to create hardware.created by utilizing a computer language to write instructions.
TangibleHardware is tangible as hardware is a physical electronic device, that can be touched.Software is intangible as we can see and also use the software but can’t touch them.
DurabilityHardware typically wears out over time.The software does not wear out with time. However, it may contain flaws and glitches.
TypesIt has four main categories: input devices, output devices, storage, and internal components.It is mainly divided into System software and Application software.
Virus effectHardware is not affected by computer viruses.Software is affected by computer viruses.
TransferIt cannot be transferred from one place to another electrically through the network.It can be transferred via a network means.
Machine-Level languageOnly machine-level language is known to be understood by hardware.The program accepts human-readable input, interprets it in machine-level language, and sends it to hardware for additional processing.
ReplacementIf hardware is damaged, it is replaced with a new one.If the software is damaged, its backup copy can be reinstalled.
FailuresDust, overheating, dust, and other factors are commonly responsible for hardware failures.Overloading, systematic error, major-minor version error, and other factors are commonly responsible for software failures.
ExamplesEx: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Printer, CPU, Hard disk, RAM, ROM, etc.Ex: MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, MySQL, etc.

What is Hardware?

Computer hardware represents the physical components of the computer and is one of the tangible components of the computer connected physically. It includes the keyboard, mouse, graphics card, sound card, speakers, motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), etc.

Types of Computer Hardware

Computer hardware can be categorized as:

  1. Internal Hardware Component
  2. External Hardware Components.

Internal Hardware Components:

Generally, the proper functioning of the computer depends on the internal hardware component , whereas external hardware components are attached to the computer to add or enhance functionality. Collectively internal components process or store the instructions delivered by the program or operating system (OS). These include the following:

Motherboard: A motherboard that is a printed circuit board that holds the central processing unit i.e. CPU and other essential internal hardware and it performs as the central hub from which other hardware components run through.

CPU: The CPU which is called the brain of the computer performs and executes digital instructions from various programs; In processing data, the clock speed determines the computer’s performance and efficiency.

RAM: RAM(dynamic RAM)  is temporary memory storage  from which  information  is immediately accessible to programs; RAM is also called a Volatile memory in which the stored data will be cleared when the computer switches off.

Hard drive: Hard disk drives are the physical storage devices that memorizes both permanent and temporary data in various  formats which also include programs i.e. OSes, device files, photos, etc.

Solid-state drive (SSD): SSD means Solid-state drive. It is a storage-based device on NAND memory. SSD is a non-volatile memory that stores the memory even after the device is plugged off.

Optical drive: Optical drives reside in an on-device drive bay; which connects the computer to read and interact with nonmagnetic external media, such as compact discs, Read-only memory(ROM), or digital video discs.

Heat sink: This is a passive piece of hardware that keeps on an eye on the temperature so that the computer regulates it properly. Typically, a heat sink is installed directly at the top of the CPU, which also produces heat among internal components.

Graphics processing unit: This chip-based device performs graphical data and various functions as an extension to the brain of the computer i.e. CPU.

Network interface card (NIC): A Network Interface Card is a circuit board or a small chip that adapts the computer to the Ethernet network; also known as a network adapter or local area network adapter.

External hardware components:

This part of the computer are connected externally to control input and output functions, this part is also referred as peripheral components.  The external hardware components provides proper instruction to the software( input) and bring out the execution(output). Some of the common hardware components include the following:

Mouse: A device which is a hand held pointing device. It help to move the cursor all over the computer screen so that interaction is maintained. It can be wired or wireless.

Keyboard: A keyboard is the input device which is the arrangement of number, alphabet and other symbols which accepts the command given.

Microphone: A device which converts sound waves into electrical signals and also supports computer-based audio communications.

Camera: A camera captures visual images as it has sensor chips to capture and streams them through computer to different connected devices.

USB flash drive: A USB flash drive is an external, portable, removable storage device that stores the data files and backup.

Memory card: A memory card is a flat flash drive type of portable external storage media which stores and transfers programs and data.

Other input hardware components include joysticks, styluses and scanners.

What is Software?

Software is a set of instructions and programs that we store and run on computer hardware. It is the intangible component of the computer system. The software enables them to perform specific tasks through the computer hardware. Any program running on the computer is an example of software.

Types of Computer Software

The two major types of computer software are:

  1. Application software
  2. System software

Application Software:

Application software is a type of software that performs a specific functions, it can be used in any field, be it educational, research, professional, or personal works. This type of software is sometimes referred to as non-essential software because it’s installed and operated based on the requirement of the user. The application software includes:

Word processors: This applications software is used for documentation. For examples Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and AppleWorks, etc.

Spreadsheet software: Spreadsheet Software used to capture quantitative data in rows and columns. Examples include Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Quattro Pro. It is useful in accounting, business data storage, for calculating, etc.

Database software: Database software is used for creating, editing, maintaining and managing a database to organize data. Commonly referred to as database management software (DBMS). Examples include MySQL, Clipper, and FileMaker

Multimedia software: This multimedia software is set of programs that is capable of playing, creating, or recording images, editing, graphics to create innovative content. Examples include Adobe Photoshop and Picasa, etc.

Application suites: A collection of related programs that are sold as a package. Microsoft Office is the most widely used application suite.

Internet browsers: Software used to access and view different websites. Examples include Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Email programs: Software used for emailing. Examples include Outlook and Gmail.

System Software:

System software helps the to run hardware and application software. System software acts as a medium between the two, that is, user and the hardware. The most well-known example of system software is the BIOS, Boot, Assembler, Device driver, etc.

BIOS: BIOS means Built input/output system that helps to start the computer after it is powered in. It allows data flow between the Operating system and attached devices such as hard disk, video adapter, and keyboard.

Boot: Boot loads the OS into the computer’s main memory or RAM.

Assembler: This software takes basic instructions and converts them into a pattern of bits that the processor can use to perform basic operations.

Device driver: The Device driver controls a particular type of device attached to the computer, such as a keyboard or mouse.


Ganesan Arumugam is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.

Leave a Reply