Software vs Firmware: What Is the Difference?

In electronics, specifically any device that does computing, you will run into the terms software and firmware. The difference between the two can be a little hard to define as they both, in general, refer to data stored within a hardware device.

Software is most often meant to describe a program or piece of data that is meant to be viewed, changed or otherwise interacted with most often by the user. This includes utilities such as operating systems, word processers, executables, databases and other programs useful to the user. Software is designed to be updated frequently and usually can be removed or edited in a system without much consequence – other than perhaps loss of important data. Software files are usually large and take up a substantial amount of hardware memory when compared to firmware.

Firmware is a term for a piece of software that is stored on a hardware device in order to make it run properly. It is not really meant to be interacted with by the user once it is there. The firmware, once installed, is usually changed infrequently and only through updates from the manufacturer. Loss of firmware can often lead to a hardware device losing function entirely depending on the situation. Because of this reason, firmware is often stored on components that are electrically isolated from other parts of the system such as on a EEprom chip or flash memory. Firmware file size tends to be much smaller than software as it does not contain much in the way of data needed for graphics or user interface.

When Global Electronic Services repairs electronics, we take every precaution to preserve firmware and software. Be sure to visit us online at gesrepair.com or call us at 1-877-249-1701 to learn more about our services. We’re proud to offer Surplus, Complete Repair and Maintenance on all types of Industrial Electronics, Servo Motors, AC and DC Motors, Hydraulics and Pneumatics. Please subscribe to our YouTube page and Like Us on Facebook! Thank you!

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