Hardware Firewalls vs. Software Firewalls

You’ve heard you need a firewall to keep your computer’s identity “stealth” (hidden) while online so you can keep intruders and undesirable programs blocked out. But there are so many options. Not simply between software products, but hardware choices as well. How do you know which is right for you? Let’s look at the differences.

First of all, hardware is something you can see, like the monitor you are looking at to read this text right now. Typically hardware refers to the hard physical elements—the computer, the keyboard, the circuitry inside your computer—anything you can see and touch. (Hardware always includes some form of software, but you don’t see this. For example, your computer keyboard has a software program written into the circuitry that allows what you type to appear on the screen. But you don’t have to purchase this software for your keyboard. It’s already there.)

Software, on the other hand, is a computer program that tells the hardware exactly what to do. This webpage, for example, was written in a computer language called HTML. This HTML program tells your monitor how to display the text you are reading now. Software is the name for the instructions that tell the computer what to do. All software requires hardware to run.

A hardware firewall is a small metal box filled with plug openings, or ports. You hook your computer network into the box then set it up on your computer, just as you would a new printer or other peripheral.

Because it’s not physically on your machine, a hardware firewall is somewhat less vulnerable than a software firewall. You could look at a hardware firewall as a mini computer, and the price of hardware firewalls reflect this difference. Hardware firewalls are typically owned by larger businesses.

Software firewalls give you the level of protection you need to keep safe from hackers and other unwanted intrusions because software is far easier for computer novices to customize. The features are suited to smaller home networks.

Some top software firewall packages also include anti-spam, anti-virus, even anti-popup ad software. Some software firewalls are flexible enough to incorporate your existing anti-software into its firewall program. Some software firewalls also include parental controls to manage what kinds of websites your children visit. Some packages will also allow you to block photos and specific text content that you do not want your children to view.

Hardware firewalls are best suited to businesses and large networks; software firewalls are best suited for the home user who wants easy customization


Ben That fall weather —> I hope you have enjoyed the posts that we continue to provide here at Solutions For Life. Our goal is to continually educate our users on the technology around us. We don’t write simply for our entertainment. Nope, our goal is to educate us all how to connect to the world around you…


Ben Adams


Hardware Firewalls vs. Software Firewalls
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