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What are the Differences between Computer Hardware and Software?

Computer Hardware

Computer Hardware is any part of the computer that can be touched. These are primarily electronic devices used to build up the computer. Computer Hardware actually perform the computing operations along with taking input and sending the computed result as output or to storing that.


Processor, Memory Devices, Monitor, Printer etc. are computer hardware. Monitor is used to display output such as video, texts etc. while Printer is used to print documents, images etc. These are electronic devices and can be touched. Both monitor and printer are output devices. Hardware such as keyboard, mouse etc. are input devices as we use this devices to input or send signal to the computer. Beside input/output or IO devices there are lots of other devices that builds up the central processing unit (CPU) such as motherboard, processor, RAM, hard disk, graphics card etc. these computer hardware processes data (input or stored data) and generates output or simply executes further instructions.

Computer Software

Software, by definition, is a collection of computer programs, procedures and documentation that performs different tasks on a computer system. Software can specify the processors instruction through which the processor can change the state of computer hardware in a predefined sequence. Briefly, computer software is a language in which computer speaks.


Operating Systems such as Microsoft Windows 10, Word processing applications such Microsoft Word etc. as computer software. We can’t touch these as they are all virtual. But we can use them using various input devices and can get output from them using different output devices. For example, we can use keyboard to type into Microsoft Word and can see what we types in the monitor, we can also print out what we typed using a printer. The software are stored in storage such hard disks or memories such as ROM.

Differences between Computer Hardware and Software

#Computer HardwareComputer Software
1Hardware are electronic devicesSoftware are sets of executable instructions
2A computer is primarily a machine built-up with inter-connected hardware devicesSoftware tells the inter-connected hardware devices that what to do, how to do and when to do
3We can see and touch hardware as they are physical electronic devicesWe can see (if there is a user interface) and use (if there is an input interface) software but can’t actually touch them.
4Hardware is required to not only process data but also to take input and send output and store outputSoftware gives the hardware necessary instructions to perform the tasks of input, output and processing
5Hardware are physical, not virtualSoftware are virtual, not physical
6Hardware wears out over time as they are mechanical electronic devices.Software doesn’t wear out over time
7Hardware are rarely upgradable, user need to replace old hardware with new hardware for additional performance or function.Software is just opposite, they are upgradable, almost all software vendor regularly provides updates to their software to make it perform better, perform additional tasks and more bug free.