Software is a general term used to describe a collection of computer programs, procedures, and documentation that perform some task on a computer system. Practical computer systems divide software systems into three major classes: system software, programming software, and application software, although the distinction is arbitrary and often blurred. Software is an ordered sequence of instructions for changing the state of the computer hardware in a particular sequence. Software is typically programmed with a user-friendly interface that allows humans to interact more more efficiently with a computer system.

Hardware is best described as a device, such as a hard drive, that is physically connected to the computer or something that can be physically touched. A CD-ROM, computer display monitor, printer, and video card are all examples of computer hardware. Without any hardware, a computer would not function, and software would have nothing to run on. Hardware and software interact with one another: software tells hardware which tasks it needs to perform.

There are several differences between computer hardware and software.

Comparison chart

Hardware versus Software comparison chart
Definition Devices that are required to store and execute (or run) the software. Collection of instructions that enables a user to interact with the computer. Software is a program that enables a computer to perform a specific task, as opposed to the physical components of the system (hardware).
Types Input, storage, processing, control, and output devices. System software, Programming software, and Application software.
Function Hardware serve as the delivery system for software solutions. The hardware of a computer is infrequently changed, in comparison with software and data, which are “soft” in the sense that they are readily created, modified, or erased on the comput To perform the specific task you need to complete. Software is generally not needed to for the hardware to perform its basic level tasks such as turning on and reponding to input.
Examples CD-ROM, monitor, printer, video card, scanners , label makers, routers and modems. QuickBooks, Adobe Acrobat, Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Apple Maps
Inter dependency Hardware starts functioning once software is loaded. To deliver its set of instructions, Software is installed on hardware.
Failure Hardware failure is random. Hardware does have increasing failure at the last stage. Software failure is systematic. Software does not have an increasing failure rate.
Durability Hardware wears out over time. Software does not wear out over time. However, bugs are discovered in software as time passes.
Nature Hardware is physical in nature. Software is logical in nature.


Hardware is a physical device, something that one is able to touch and see. For example, the computer monitor used to view this text, or the mouse used to navigate a website are considered computer hardware. Software is a program, such as an operating system or a web browser, that is able to instruct a computer's hardware to perform a specific task. Unlike hardware, software has no physical form.

Though hardware and software are most often associated with computers, software also runs on other hardware, such as cell phones, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) units, medical equipment, and air traffic control system. Without any type of software the computer would be useless. For example, one wouldn’t be able to interact with the computer without a software Operating System.


Software performs a specific task by giving an ordered set of programmatic instructions to hardware. Hardware serves as the delivery system for software solutions.


Hardware cannot function until software is loaded and software is installed in hardware to set the programs in action.


Firewalls are available for both hardware and software. The most popular firewall choice is a software firewall; these are installed on the computer (like any software) and can be customized to suit individual users' security needs. Hardware firewalls are typically found in broadband routers.


While it is common to switch to new software or use multiple kinds of software at a time, hardware is less frequently changed. Software can easily be created, changed, or deleted, but switching out hardware takes greater skill and is usually a more expensive endeavor.


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"Hardware vs Software." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 16 Sep 2018. < >