Hardware vs Software: Difference and Comparison

Hardware and software are critical components of any machinery creation and functioning. Both are computer-related terminologies.


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Though both the terms seem to overlap, there is a difference between hardware and software.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hardware refers to the physical components of a computer or other electronic devices, such as the monitor, keyboard, and processor.
  2. Software refers to the programs and applications run on a computer or electronic device.
  3. Hardware is tangible and physically touched, while the software is intangible and exists as code or instructions.

Hardware vs Software

Hardware refers to the physical components of a computer system, such as the motherboard, processor, memory, and storage devices. Software is a set of instructions responsible for controlling and coordinating the hardware components of the computer system to perform specific tasks.

Hardware vs Software

A second key difference between hardware and software is that hardware is a physical device, while the software is a set of instructions given to a device for the hardware to perform.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonHardwareSoftware
MeaningHardware is the processing part of various parts of the computer.Software is instructions given to the hardware
PerformanceCannot function without softwareIt cannot be executed without software
TactionPhysical device. can be seen and touchedIt can be used and felt
VirusNot affected by the virusGets affected by Viruses
ComponentsInternal components, Input device, storage, output device,System software, programming software, and application software


What is Hardware?

Hardware is a device that can be physically connected to the computer or laptop systems that permit physical touch.

Hardware alone cannot function and needs the assistance of other hardware and, most importantly, systemic interaction with the software.

Simply put, hardware cannot be operated in isolation. Example: CDROM, monitor, printer, USB keyboard, mouse, etc.

Hardware can be input (CD), output (external USB), storage(memory card. router), and Processing ( internal motherboard).


What is Software?

The software allows the functioning of hardware. They are a collection of processes or applications that are user-friendly.

There are three types of software which are system software and application software. And programming software.

The system software examples are Msword, Ms excel, Outlook, quick books, etc. application software is something like an antivirus system, team viewer, Adobe, Grammarly, hotspot shield, etc.

Programming software is the blurred distinction between system and application software. Hence, it is crucial to understand that software is a user-friendly distinction and interface that allows the hardware to function.


Main Differences Between Hardware and Software


Hardware is the physical part of the computer wherein it can be touched externally, like an earphone, keyboard, monitor, etc.

But the internal hardware can’t be touched. In simple language, the hardware is a workable product that executes larger tasks with software support.

Hardware can function only when the software is loaded and wears out with time.

On the other hand, software is a set of procedures, applications, instructions, and systems that helps the execution of the different task of a computer system.

The software is user-friendly. The software doesn’t fail or crash, but the hardware can.

Also, the software doesn’t wear off with time like the hardware but can develop bugs over time.


The hardware is manufactured wherein many components come together as a final product.

The product, the computer, needs software to function.  Hardware is the operation, and software is the operating system.

Some software is by default built-in the computers, but much other software needs to be downloaded or purchased.


Can a human body function without blood, veins, and nervous systems? NO, right.

Similarly, for a computer’s optimal functioning, hardware and software synchronisation is needed.

If we have low sugar or low blood pressure, we feel it.

Likewise, the performance of hardware is, of course, dependent on the manufacturing dates but also the interaction with the software.


Software like Msword, Photoshop, and Ms excel cannot be touched. But yes, many software can be downloaded online or purchased in a CD format.

For example, the antivirus is software to stop the virus from entering the computer, and it cannot be touched or felt but can be observed.

But the CD in which it comes can be touched and felt.

The subtopic ‘components’ can be referred to for the same.


Hardware can catch a virus only if a virus enters the software. Otherwise, the hardware, by default, is not prone to be affected by the virus.

Hardware is systematically manufactured, and only software interference causes damage to the hardware in the long run.

That means the immediate effects are not noticed, and the virus is only found when the damage to the hardware is done. Hence the software should continually be updated and run for a virus check.


The hardware has various components that can be set into categories, as listed below.

The input devices like microphones, external mice, printers, scanners, etc.

The output devices are the external keyboard, ports, mouse pad, etc. The storage in the inbuilt capacity in gigabytes, e.t.c

Internal components are the keyboard, motherboard, spare parts, sound cards, CPU, etc. The components of software have been explained in ‘What is software’.

Difference Between Hardware and Software
  1. https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what-is-computer-software-hardware
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1600416/
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