Hardware vs Software


Welcome to this page on Hardware vs Software. Here you can find out exactly what the two terms mean, the differences between them, and why they need each other.


What is Software?

Software is the name given to non-physical instructions and procedures that provide some form of functionality either with hardware or on it.

It is practical to group software into three main types:

  • System software – Such as operating systems, firmware, or device drivers.
  • Programming software – Such as IDE’s.
  • Application software – Such as browsers, anti-virus, utilities, and office applications.

Regardless of the category, software is essentially a stored set of sequential instructions that, when executed on a computer system, perform a task or function.

Software can exist with either a graphical user interface (GUI) or a command line interface (CLI) for user interaction. Software scripts can also be created that are predefined with parameters to run without any user interaction at all.

Examples of software:

  • Operating systems
  • Applications
  • Device Drivers
  • Utilities
  • Firmware


What is Hardware?

Hardware is the name given to a physical device that has some involvement in, or with, a computer system or network. Hardware is anything that can be physically touched, such as the computer components making up a desktop, or networking devices such as a wireless access point or modem. Without hardware, software would have no purpose, it would not be stored on anything, and would not be able to be run.

Examples of hardware:

  • CPU
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Network Switch
  • Router
  • Physical Firewall


What are the main differences between hardware and software?

Below we have compiled the differences between software and hardware into a table:


DescriptionsPhysical devices that make up a computer system, interact with a computer system, or are needed in a network.Sequential instructions that can be stored on hardware and executed to achieve a function or task.
TypesInput devices, output devices, storage devices.System, programming environments, application.
Purpose / UseTo run, or interact with, software in some manner.To control, or interact with, hardware in some manner.
ExamplesHDD, Router, Firewall, Monitor, Sensors, Components.Windows OS, Linux, Android, Visual Studio, Google Chrome, Microsoft Excel.
Connection to each otherHardware needs software to tell it what to do, or software is needed elsewhere to translate.Software exists on hardware.
DurabilityDegrades over time as the components wear out until failure.Does not degrade overtime, although reaches the end of its lifespan when no longer supported.
State of existenceExists in the physical world.Exists in a logical sense.