As facile as this question might be in this day and age, it’s good to know the main differences, even if many might think they’re too obvious to mention.
Computer hardware is any physical device used in or with your machine, whereas software is a collection of codes installed onto your computer’s hard drive.
For instance, the computer monitor you’re currently using to read this text and the mouse you’re using to navigate this web page is computer hardware. The Internet browser that allowed you to visit this page and the operating system that the browser is running on is considered software.
All software uses at least one hardware device to run. For example, a video game, which is software, uses the computer processor (CPU), memory (RAM), hard drive, and video card to work. Word processing software uses the computer processor, memory, and hard drive to generate and save documents.
In a computer, hardware is what makes a computer work. A CPU processes data, and that information can be stored in RAM or on a hard drive.
A sound card can offer sound to speakers, and a video card can provide an image to a monitor. All of this is hardware.
Can A Computer Run Without Hardware?
This all depends on the hardware in question. Most computers require a display, hard drive, keyboard, memory, motherboard, processor, power supply, and video card to properly function.
If any of these devices are absent or faulty, an error is encountered, or the computer will not start.
Adding hardware such as a disc drive (e.g. CD-ROM or DVD), modem, mouse, network card, printer, sound card, or speakers are not required but give the computer additional functionality.
On that same computer, the software can be installed and let a person interact with the hardware.
Operating Systems, like Windows or macOS, are software, and they provide a graphical interface for people to use the computer and other software on the computer. A person can create documents and pictures using the right software.
Can A Computer Run Without The Software?
In most situations, yes, a computer can operate without software being installed. Nevertheless, if an operating system or interpreter is not found on the computer, it generates an error or doesn’t output any information.
Installing programs onto the computer along with an operating system gives the computer additional capacities. For example, a word processor is not required, but it allows you to create documents and letters.
Indubitably, we live in an age of information technology. Software is a program or set of programs that perform some specific operations. It’s good to know that there are two types of software:
1. System Software
2. Application Software
System software is a part of the operating system which interfaces with the hardware for the specific operation.
Drivers, IDE, firmware and so on are examples of System Software. On the other hand, Application Software is for the augmentation of computing, and it is based on the needs of users.
What Is Hardware
The physical part of a computer system that we can touch is known as hardware. All computer systems require hardware for their existence. Some actual examples of computer hardware are CPU, Mouse and Keyboard etc.
Every physical component of a device is hardware. You can reach out and touch hardware, and you cannot connect software. Hardware includes all of the physical devices in a computer, like a motherboard, RAM, or processors.
For devices like computers, hardware has a heavy influence on performance. Higher performance hardware tends to cost more and requires more resources. Powerful video cards or a CPU, for example, may require a lot of electricity and more cooling than weaker internal components. Most computer components perform better at cooler temperatures.
Hardware is limited in what it can do on its own. Hardware enables the technology to run. Software is what is running. A good analogy is with a book. Hardware is paper, binding, and ink.
The primary purpose of hardware for most use cases is to allow the device to run the software. Most users won’t have to worry much about computer hardware. Businesses often buy prebuilt desktop computers or laptops. This lets them leave most hardware considerations to professionals, from power supply to output devices. In hardware-related product categories like rack servers, vendors provide hardware and software so that users have a nearly out-of-the-box solution.
Firstly, input devices are the components that send data to the computer. Some examples are as follows.
A keyboard is a device that allows the user to enter input data. The layout of the keyboard is similar to a typewriter with additional keys. Another input device is a mouse. It consists of left, right mouse buttons and a wheel.
It cannot be used to enter text into the computer. According to the mouse movement, it is possible to control the cursor's position on the screen. Joysticks, Light Pen, Scanner, Microphone, and Barcode Reader, are furthermore examples for input devices.
Secondly, output devices are the peripheral devices that receive data from the computer. It can be a display, projection or any other medium.
Some examples are as follows. The monitor is a Visual Display Unit (VDU) that displays the data or visuals from the computer. The printer helps to print the details into paper. The latest printers are the inkjet printers. They are used to take high-quality multiple printouts.
Secondary Storage Devices
Secondary storage devices are the devices that store the data until the data is deleted or overridden. These devices store data permanently.
Therefore, they are nonvolatile memories. In other words, powering off the device will not delete the data in secondary storage devices. Hard disk, CD, DVD, Floppy disk, Solid State Drives are examples of secondary storage devices.
Most importantly, the internal components are the elements that directly connect with the main functionalities of the computer. CPU, RAM, ROM, and motherboard are few examples. The CPU is the primary execution unit of the computer.
It is divided into the arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU) and the Control Unit (CU). The ALU performs mathematical calculations and logical operations. The Control Unit (CU) carries the control signals to operate other components.
RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory that stores data, programs and program results for the CPU to perform tasks. It is possible to perform read and write operations in RAM.
The amount of RAM is an essential factor to determine the performance of the computer. It requires more time for the CPU to access secondary storage such as hard disk for all operations. Therefore, the RAM is used as the primary storage. It is a volatile memory. Consequently, it holds data temporary. In other words, powering off the device will erase the data in the RAM.
ROM stands for Read-Only Memory. It is only possible to read from the ROM. It is a nonvolatile memory, so the data is permanent.
It consists of the instructions required to start a computer. Moreover, a motherboard is a single platform. It connects CPU, memory, hard drives and other ports through cables. Those are the main hardware components found in a computer.
What Is Software
A collection of instructions, procedures and documents that are required to run different functions of a computer is known as software. Like computer hardware, we can’t touch computer software. Some actual examples of computer software are MSWord, PowerPoint, Google Chrome and Excel etc.
Software is all of the programs and code that runs on top of hardware for additional functionality. Software programs range from application software like MS Word or Photoshop to operating system software like Windows. Simple programs make computers able to be used by regular consumers.
Unlike hardware, the software is a nonphysical component of devices. Software, to continue the book analogy, is the illustrations and other content. Still, hardware is necessary for using the software.
More complex software may require more powerful hardware. Activities like rapid, complicated calculations or highly detailed image rendering can have stringent hardware requirements to run correctly. Weaker hardware can run less demanding software like PowerPoint or essential Excel functions.
While most users won’t have to make many hardware decisions, they may have to for software. The feature differences between different software options are often more understandable to non-technical professionals.
Existing hardware usually has to be considered when choosing software. Businesses using a macOS infrastructure, for example, will have to purchase different software than a business using Windows.
System software allows operating, controlling and extending the processing capability of a computer.
This software is necessary to run hardware and application software. They are the interface between the hardware and the end-users. Usually, computer manufacturers develop system software. The typical programming languages to build system software are C, C++, and Assembly language.
Some examples of system software are operating systems, compilers, assemblers, interpreters and device drivers. An operating system performs task management, memory management, file handling and hardware management and many more.
The compilers and interpreters convert a high-level program into machine understandable machine code. An assembler converts the assembly language program to machine code. The device drivers control and monitor the functionalities of specific devices such as printers.
Application software is designed to achieve a specific user requirement. Some application software is as follows. Word documents allow creating documents. The spreadsheet enables maintaining financial details. Database Management Systems (DBMS) helps in keeping data in databases.
Moreover, there is application software designed to support particular organisational tasks. Business organisations use the Human Resource Management system to record employee details.
A school or a university uses a Library Management System to insert new books, borrower's parties etc.
Apart from these types, there is another software type called utility software. This type assists the tasks of the computer. Some examples of utility software are antivirus programs, file and disk management tools.
Further Information And Examples
All software utilises at least one hardware device to operate. For example, a video game, which is software, uses the computer processor (CPU), memory (RAM), hard drive, and video card to run. Word processing software uses the computer processor, memory, and hard drive to create and save documents.
Hardware is what makes a computer work. A CPU processes information, and that information can be stored in RAM or on a hard drive.
A sound card provides sound to speakers, and a video card offers an image to a monitor. Each of these is an example of hardware components.
Relationship Between Hardware And Software
Hardware and software are dependent on each other. Both are required for the computer to produce sound output.
Difference Between Hardware And Software
Hardware refers to the physical elements of a computer or electronic system. Software refers to a collection of instructions that tells the computer how to perform a task. This is the main difference between hardware and software.
The hardware has four main categories: input devices, output devices, secondary storage devices and internal components. Software is mainly divided into system software and application software.
The hardware is tangible, while the software is intangible.
Method of Constructing
Furthermore, the hardware is developed using electronics and other materials. Software is produced by writing instructions utilising a programming language.
When a hardware component is damaged, it can be replaced with a new member. When software is damaged, it can be reinstalled using a backup copy. Malware such as viruses and worms can damage software.
The hardware starts functioning once the software is loaded into the system. To use software, it should be installed into the computer.
Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Printer, Hard disk, CPU, RAM, and ROM are few examples of hardware. MS Word, Excel, MSSQL, MySQL, Photoshop are some examples of software.
What’s The Importance Of Software?
Imagine trying to survive without a phone and internet for an entire day. The mere thought of it possibly suggests what’s virtually impossible in this day and age.
From the moment we wake up, we start our day with an alarm clock application and soon after checking social networking sites and emails while sipping on our morning dose of caffeine.
Software is developed as a means to enhance our lives. For example, by using an e-commerce website, we can save money and time. Then there are many simulators which are also the kind of software used to test before any physical implementation.
Therefore, the importance of software in our everyday life cannot be overlooked. With an ever-evolving world of technology and services like cloud computing, users don’t even need to download software to their computers. They can run programs directly from the cloud with minimal installation.
Storage: Software Vs Hardware
Some industries, such as the storage industry, offer hardware and software solutions. It is important to note that even though they are called software and hardware solutions, both of them use hardware and software. These titles refer to the foundation of the system itself relative to other options.
A software-based storage system uses a small piece of hardware to create virtualised servers for storage.
Hardware solutions like physical servers use software for networking so that you can access the data from your computer. Even SaaS-based cloud solutions still use hardware. Cloud storage provides you with software-based access to data stored on a physical server off-premises.
Storage is one industry that offers hardware and software-based solutions. The pros and cons of hardware and software storage solutions are similar to the general trends for these things.
The benefits of a software-based solution like virtualised storage include scalability, maintenance, and physical space requirements. Businesses using software-based storage solutions won’t need to maintain a server room.
As storage needs increase or decrease, companies can adjust their storage plan. This is great for smaller businesses anticipating rapid growth. The main downside of software storage solutions is speed. Latency can make read/write times slower in software solutions.
The key benefits of hardware-based storage solutions are high speed and reliability. When businesses use cloud-based storage, they are reliant on the internet and the service. If the internet or cloud service goes down, the company may lose access to the data.
With a hardware-based solution, all the data is on-site, even if your office loses internet connection. Hardware-based solutions do require a savvy staff of technical users to manage them. Hardware solutions may be less appropriate for small teams that can’t devote many human resources to them.
How Do Hardware And Software Work Together?
Computer hardware and computer software depend upon each other. Anyhow, we can run computer hardware without computer software, but we can’t run computer software without computer hardware.
For example, if you have a video game in the form of computer software, you can’t operate it without computer hardware. Its reason is that for the operation of the computer software there requires memory, processors, video cards and sound cards etc.
Both hardware and software are necessary for the proper functioning of the computer. The software cannot be utilised without hardware, while the hardware cannot be used without software.
The difference between hardware and software is that hardware refers to the physical components of a computer. In contrast, software refers to a set of instructions given to a computer to perform a specific task.