Software? Hardware? You’ve probably heard both of these terms before – but what’s the difference? There are a number of differences between software and hardware that you might not know about. Read on to find out more…

What is software?

Software is a term used to describe computer programs, documentation and other procedures that perform tasks on your desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or mobile tablet. It’s basically anything that’s ‘inside’ your computer that is used to perform a particular task – think word processing programs, image editors, computer games and picture galleries. You might use software to type an assignment for work or school, view your photos, play your favorite games, or edit videos. There are a number of sub-categories of software, such as application software, programming software, and system software. However, all of these are usually programmed in a way to be ‘user friendly’, so that many computer users can use them. In technical terms, software has an ordered sequence of instructions which changes computer hardware in a particular sequence.


So what is hardware?

Hardware is a term used to describe computer devices that make up your desktop computer, laptop, mobile tablet, or smartphone, or anything that is connected to this equipment. Another way to describe hardware is anything that can be physically touched – think about your computer monitor, mouse, keyboard, CD ROM drive, or printer. Your computer needs hardware to function, but it’s the software which gives commands to the hardware and tells it what to do. For example, you might use your software and tell it to print a physical copy of a document that you have been typing on your computer. Software will then send this command to an external printer (which is connected to your computer) and perform the task for you.

What are the differences between software and hardware?

Software and hardware work together to ensure that your computer operates correctly. If a piece of software malfunctions, you may be able to correct the problem by accessing your registry files, uninstalling and then re-installing the program, or downloading additional software or ‘updates’ from the internet. If your hardware malfunctions, you may need to fix an internal component or replace it completely (depending on the severity of the problem). A trained professional may perform software or hardware repair work for you. Hardware can often wear out over time and can be damaged if you don’t care for it (for example, your keyboard might not work anymore if you spilled a glass of water over it by accident). On the other hand, software won’t wear out over time, but can pick up bugs, viruses, or malware (which can damage your software and cause it to malfunction).

How does software and hardware work together?

Remember – hardware will only start working correctly once you have the right software downloaded onto your computer. This can include drivers for your computer equipment, which is used do deliver a sequence of instructions. However, software will need to be downloaded ONTO hardware (your computer). As you can see, hardware and software can work in tandem to ensure that your computer operates in the right way.