What is the difference between hardware and software?

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Think of software as the programs that make your computer work.  Microsoft Word, Firefox, and even your calendar are examples of application software that allows you to perform actions. Tthe other two categories of software are system and programming software.

Hardware is the tangible, or physical, pieces that make up your computer.  The hard drive, memory, the keyboard, the monitor, and graphic card may make up the hardware of your computer. 

If you get confused between the two think of the differences between turning in a hard copy or a soft copy of a paper. A soft copy (just like software) remains on the computer and cannot be physically touched while a hard copy (just like your computer's hardware) is a printed piece of paper that be be touched.

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"Hardware" refers to any physical device in computing. If it is something you can touch and see, such as the computer screen, the keyboard, the printer, or the mouse, it is part of the hardware.

"Software" refers to the sequence of instructions that is given to the computer system to enable it to perform tasks. Programmers write software to perform a specific task and to allow human users to interact as easily as possible with the computer system. Practical computer systems divide software systems into three types—system software, programming software, and application software—although these distinctions are often blurred.

Without hardware, software would have nothing to run on, and without software, hardware would not be able to perform any tasks except the most basic. The software instructs the hardware which tasks to perform.

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