What is the Difference Between Hardware and Software?

What is the Difference Between Hardware and Software?

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Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Jan 24, 2024 19:28 IST

A computer system is divided into hardware and software. Hardware is a physical component of the system which includes CPU, monitor, mouse and keyboard. Software is a set of instructions that allows the hardware to perform specific tasks. Software is required to be installed within the hardware to function properly. 


Software and hardware cannot function independently without each other. Hardware and software mutually exist – hardware is useless and vice-versa without software. They are the two main broad categories of elements of a computer system. Hardware and software differ in many ways yet are non-functional without each other. We need software and hardware to run a computer and perform different tasks.

Table of Contents

Differences between Hardware and Software

Now, let us understand the difference between hardware and software:

Parameter Hardware Software
Definition Physical components of a computer that store and run the software. Set of instructions or programs that tell a computer what to do.
Nature Tangible. We can see and touch the hardware. Intangible. We can see but cannot touch software.
Types Divided into four categories: Input devices, Output devices, Processing devices, and Storage devices. Divided into two categories, which are System software and Application software.
Creation A Hardware engineer physically builds a hardware using electronic components. Software is developed by software engineers using various programming languages.
Dependency Cannot perform any task without software. It cannot run without hardware.
Affect of computer viruses Not affected by computer viruses. Computer viruses are designed to 8ik-affect the software.
Failure A hardware failure can occur due to voltage fluctuation, cabling issues, etc. Failure can occur due to virus attacks, bugs, etc.
Durability Outdated hardware needs to be replaced and cannot be updated virtually. Outdated software can be updated over the Internet.
Replacement We can replace the hardware with a new component if damaged or corrupted. When damaged or corrupted, we can install the software again using a backup copy.
Transferability It cannot be shared over the Internet. Need to be physically transferred from one system to another or from one location to another. It can be easily transferred over the network virtually.
Example Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, CPU, Hard disk, RAM, etc. MS Word, Excel, SQL, Photoshop, Google Chrome, etc.

What is Hardware?

Computer hardware represents the physical components that a computer requires to function. It is the tangible component that is connected physically with the computer.

Hardware includes the keyboard, mouse, graphics card, sound card, speakers, motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), and every other computer component that you can physically touch. While laptops and desktop computers have different designs, we can find the same hardware components.

Types of Computer Hardware

  • Input devices: For inputting raw data – Keyboard, Joystick, Scanner
  • Processing devices: For processing raw data instructions into information. – Graphics Card, Processors
  • Output devices: To display data and information. – Printer, Monitor
  • Storage devices: For storing data and information. – USB, Solid State Drive (SSD), Hard Disk (HDD), Servers

Examples of Computer Hardware

  • RAM
  • ROM
  • CPU (Microprocessor)
  • Motherboard
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Power Supply Unit
  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
  • Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Graphics Card
  • Printer
  • Scanner

What is Software?

Software is a set of instructions that we store and run on computer hardware. It is the intangible part of the computer system. The software enables to perform certain tasks through the computer hardware. Any program that runs on a computer is an example of software.

Types of Software

There are two main types of software: System Software and Application Software.

System Software: A set of programs enables the hardware to function. This software controls the operations of computer hardware. It acts as the platform for other application programs to run correctly. It also makes the computer’s operation faster, more effective, and more secure.

Examples of System Software

Application Software: Application Software is a program or application that has a specific purpose and allows users to accomplish a specific goal. Also known as an application package, application software acts as a mediator between the system software and the end-user.

Examples of Application Software

  • Web browsers
  • Productivity software (word processors and spreadsheets
  • Database software (Microsoft Access)
  • Games
All About Secondary Storage Devices
All About Secondary Storage Devices
Secondary storage devices are any non-volatile storage device that is either internally or externally present within the computer. These can be an7 device that helps provide permanent data storage.
What is Application Software: Features and Function
What is Application Software: Features and Function
Application software is one of the two main types of software. It performs specific tasks and is for the purpose of end-users’ requirements.
What is System Software: Features and Components
What is System Software: Features and Components
System software is one of the two major types of software. It helps in generating user interface and allowing operating system to interact with the hardware of the computer.


So, we learned what is hardware and software and the difference between both of them. Hardware refers to the physical components of a computer. Software is a set of instructions given to a computer to perform a specific task. We also explored the examples of both.

Hardware requires software to function properly. Similarly, software needs hardware to perform tasks. Both are essential for the proper functioning of a computer system.


What is hardware with examples?

Hardware refers to the physical parts that a computer requires to function. It includes the tangible components that can be seen and touched. Examples of hardware include the keyboard, monitor, mouse, and central processing unit (CPU).

What is software with examples?

Software refers to the set of instructions, programs, and routines that tell a computer what to do. Computer software enables users to operate a computer and execute specific tasks. There are two types of software namely system software and application software. Examples of software include operating systems, web browsers, and word processors.

How do hardware and software work together?

Hardware and software together form a computer system. They both require each other to function properly. For performing a certain task, the software will require compatible hardware. The coordination between the two is necessary to perform any task and produce a useful output.

Can I run hardware without software?

No, you cannot run hardware without software. Software is a set of instructions that tells the hardware what to do. Without software, the hardware would not be able to function.

How are software and hardware related?

Software is stored in hardware in the form of magnetic domains on a hard drive or floppy disc or as low and high voltages in computer chips.

What is the purpose of software in computers?

Without computer software, computer hardware is nearly useless. The programs required to complete the input, processing, output, storage, and control activities of information systems are software.

About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio