The Difference Between Hardware and Software

Hardware and Software make up a computer system’s primary components: Physical elements like your display monitor and keyboard are represented as hardware while software provides instructions that directs how it should function.

Hardware includes devices like the central processing unit (CPU), motherboard, RAM memory and hard disk. Software programs such as Microsoft Word or video games also fall within this category.

Input Devices

Input devices translate human-readable information to computer language. Without an input device, your computer would not understand what you were typing or any commands you issued it.

Devices provide another method of interaction and the opportunity for new information input into computers, including keyboards, mice, scanners, cameras and microphones that may either be wired or wireless.

The keyboard and mouse are among the most widely-used input devices, but there are numerous others. A touchpad allows users to manipulate pointer movement on screen with their finger, while light pens are often employed for engineering, graphic design and illustrating purposes.

Some input devices are specifically tailored for people with physical disabilities. Eye-tracking systems use cameras to track eye movement; speech recognition/voice input devices allow you to speak commands instead of typing them; barcode scanners and point-of-sale terminals provide other special assistance devices.

Output Devices

Computer Hardware and Software are two distinct devices that work in tandem to carry out various types of tasks. Hardware comprises physical components that can be seen and touched; this category of components can then be divided further into input devices, output devices, storage devices and internal components. Conversely, software exists only virtually; its classifications include system software and application software.

System software manages all hardware while application software provides specific functions. Both can become infected with viruses and can only be repaired through reinstallation; hardware is easily replaceable while software cannot be easily updated or reinstalled. When studying for government exams, it is crucial to be knowledgeable of basic computer devices and their functions; there is plenty of study material online such as Computer Awareness for Kids Video or Understanding Computer Inputs and Outputs PowerPoint presentation available online to get acquainted.


Memory refers to any substance used to store and process information. This can take the form of images, sound recordings or data files stored on computers for processing purposes. Each form of memory serves a different function.

Hardware refers to physical components of computers that provide functionality and capability. Examples include monitors, keyboards and mice as well as central processing units (CPUs), RAM modules and hard disk drives.

Software is the set of instructions and programs that instructs hardware how to work, created either by users themselves or computer programming companies. Software falls into two main categories – system software runs in the background handling basic system functions while application software allows computers to complete specific tasks. Both parts work together efficiently – for instance a software program may need powerful CPU, sufficient RAM storage, and fast access time in order to run smoothly.


The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, serves as the brain of any computer, processing all instructions from both hardware and software sources. While often referred to as its “brain,” in reality it acts more like an efficient calculator; without software it would be rendered helpless and inoperable.

Silicon chips are complex pieces of hardware crafted out of semiconductor metals that provide multiple cores that appear as multiple physical cores to operating systems, enabling faster program execution.

A CPU’s primary components include the control unit, arithmetic and logic unit and memory or storage unit. The control unit receives instructions from memory, interprets them and directs their operation by other parts of the CPU; while the arithmetic and logic unit performs all mathematic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; it also stores intermediate results of processing. Finally, memory or storage stores both data and program instructions, while registers provide easy access.

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