What is the difference between Software Encryption and Hardware Encryption?

To begin with, let us understand what hardware encryption is.

Hardware Encryption

Hardware Encryption uses hardware tools to encrypt information. A separate processor is dedicated to the function of authentication and encryption and is provided with a random number generator.

Hardware encryption is self-contained within the device itself and doesn’t need any extra software. This can be established on external hard drives or solid-state drives called Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs), and on smartphones; Apple’s Touch ID and ace ID are examples of hardware encryption.

Advantages of Hardware Encryption

The advantages of hardware encryption are as follows −

  • The encryption process is separate from the host device and does not overload the host system or affect performance.

  • The encryption is continually on and cannot be wounded by malware or endusers.

  • When the encryption key is removed for redeployment, no traces of previously saved information can be recovered.

Disadvantages of Hardware Encryption

The disadvantages of hardware encryption are as follows −

  • Physical hardware to deploy and manage.

  • It is less cost-effective in smaller environments.

Software Encryption

Software Encryption uses software tools to encrypt information. Its cryptography depends on either a public key or symmetric key encryption and generally depends on a password.

Advantages of software encryption

The advantages of software encryption are as follows −

  • It does not need additional hardware.

  • It is cost-effective to implement.

Disadvantages of software encryption

The disadvantages of software encryption are as follows −

  • It has slow performance and can require complex driver and software installations.

  • It is achievable for end-users or viruses to eliminate software encryption solutions from drives.

  • Vulnerable to brute force attacks with simple password cracking software simply accessible online.

  • It is improperly redeploying software encrypted drives will leave traces of previously saved data even if it’s been eliminated.


The major differences between Hardware encryption and software encryption are as follows −

Hardware EncryptionSoftware Encryption
Hardware encryption doesn’t need any software installation.Software encryption needed software installation in the host computer.
Hardware encrypted devices don’t slow down the host computer because all of the encrypting happens within the independent processor.Software encryption can make computers slower because the software depends on the computer’s processing resources to run the encryption and it can also need software updates from time to time.
Hardware encryption is more cost-efficient because it doesn’t need additional software installation.Software-based encryption is more cost effective.
It can encrypt data only at rest.It can encrypt information in transit and at rest.
A new encryption key was created for each chunk.New encryption key generated for each user and storage policy copy sequence.