Hardware Gateways vs. Software Gateways
Hardware gateways have several advantages over software gateways, but you have to pay a higher price for the advantages. Unlike its software cousin, the hardware gateway doesn't require that a computer be turned on to provide an Internet connection for your network. But with gateway hardware, if you use a modem, you have to use the modem or modems that are inside of or connected to the gateway; you can't use a computer's internal modem. This can drive up the cost.
Software gateways are often inexpensive. However, the computer running a software gateway must remain turned on while anyone on the network seeks access to the Internet. Obviously, if this computer crashes, everyone on the network loses their Internet connection until the gateway software and host machine are restarted.
Gateway software has similar features to hardware gateways, and is available for both Windows and Macintosh machines. All gateway software can handle Internet traffic for both platforms, regardless of the type of computer on which it is running.