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Define Soft Copy, Differ with Hard Copy, Use, Benefit, Conversion

A Soft Copy is an electronic or e-copy of certain data like viewed files on a computer’s display or transmitted as an attachment on an email.  A soft copy can be text files, images, and videos. Such material when printed is termed a hard copy.


Detail of Soft Copy

A soft copy is a digital or electronic version of a document, file, or information stored and displayed on a computer or other electronic device. It is the opposite of a hard copy, which is a physical, printed version of the same content. Soft copies can take various forms, including:


Word processing Documents

Text documents created and edited on a computer using software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

PDF files

Portable Document Format files used for sharing and viewing documents in a consistent format across different devices and operating systems.


Digital worksheets created using software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Multimedia Files

Digital content such as images, audio, video, and presentations etc., stored and viewed electronically.


Digital versions of books that can be read on e-readers, tablets, or computers.

E-mail and Digital Communication

Messages, letters, and other forms of written communication are sent and received electronically, too. We can easily edit, share, and transmit soft copies over the internet. They have become a standard way of storing and sharing information in the digital age, making it convenient to access and distribute documents and files without the need for physical copies.

A user cannot touch the soft copy as it is virtual and hence it is termed as a virtual copy of a file or document.

Examples – E-books, E-Newspapers, Scanned notes, PDF notes etc.

Use of Soft Copy


Soft copies can be viewed on a computer screen, sent as an email attachment. Soft copies can be edited and shared with others easily. Moreover, the soft/hard copy distinction is important in business and at academic settings where the documents are created electronically and printed for review or to serve as a permanent record.

Benefits of using Soft Copies

Following are the benefits of using soft copy

  1. They are easy to store and share.
  2. They consume less space when compared to hard copies.
  3. Sent electronically without worrying about the cost for email.
  4. Soft copies can also be protected with password and converted into code for security.

How to display a Soft Copy

Since a soft copy is digital, it must be displayed on a device with a screen. For example – the monitor of the computer and screen on the smart phone both can display a soft way.

Definition of Hard Copy


A hard copy is a printed form of a digital document file from a computer on a paper. The output prints on a paper in a hard copy, hence referred to as permanent copy. They exists as a physical object and can be touched.

For example – Books, Newspapers, Notebooks.

In the digital world, hard copies are still important for many reasons. The hard copies may act as a backup whenever someone loses or mistakenly destroys their digital documents. Some of them feel easy to keep track and distribute hard copies.

Difference between Hard Copy and Soft Copy

Hard Copy vs Soft Copy

Below are some of the major differences between hard and soft copy –

Parameter Hard Copy Soft Copy
Nature It can be easily touched as it is a physical document received on paper or flex. It can not be touched as it is a virtual document.
Types of copies They are physically written or printed copies on paper. Also, known as electronically saved documents.
Storage Information It stores data and information in the form of physical files. It has data and information in the form of virtual files. We can saved on a computer or a drive.
Electronic medium Hard copy do not need electronic medium to read and display the content. It has a priority for an electronic medium  for reading. And also, displaying the electronically saved content.
Portability They are portable in physical form set in files which is difficult to carry. They are portable in USB drives, SD cards.
Space Hard copies takes more space in physical form. Even with large files, soft copies do not consume any physical form.
Manipulation or Alteration A hard copy cannot be easily altered or manipulated.  Easily changed and manipulated.
Weight Yes  No
Time to create copies It will take sometime to generate multiple copies and backups. Creating multiple copies is not easy as a user can copy and paste of any document.
Power-Driven Medium It does not require a power-driven medium for reading a hard copy. It always requires a power-driven medium for reading a soft copy.
Interface Does not require an interface like a mobile, computer for reading and displaying information. Requires certain interface like a computer or a mobile to display and read information.
Environment-Friendly Hard copies require natural resources like paper. They are more environmental-friendly as they need no paper.
Cost Generating the hard copies on paper can be expensive. To generate and share the soft copies, the cost is comparatively less.
Usage Mostly, hard copy stores official information. Mostly soft copy stores private information.


Preference to Soft Copies or Hard Copies?

There are pros and cons for both soft copies and hard copies and hence the most of the businesses choose to have both. For example – in an organization, they may keep soft copies of its documents for ease to share and store. However, they also print out hard copies for their important meetings. Thus, it is up to an individual or for an organization to decide what type of copy is best for their requirements.

Convert Hard Copy into Soft Copy

Hard Copy into Soft Copy

Below are the steps to convert hard copy into soft copy –

  1. First scan the hard copy and save it in a PDF format.
  2. Upload the PDF file in the google drive.
  3. Right click on the PDF file in google drive, a menu will appear.
  4. Click on open with option and the click on google docs sub option.
  5. We can see the original file in first page
  6. Scroll down
  7. Next, generation of soft copy is in second page.
  8. Finally, we can copy and paste it anywhere to make a file in any format as per the need.

Apart from the fact that the hard and soft copies are both information transmitters, both of them have dissimilarities. A hard copy is much used which is a older method of information transfer, whereas a soft copy is a latest method. However, in this 21st century, the soft copy usage has become more common. When it comes to writing material, though, tangible copies have their value.

Read Also:
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Chakrasthitha is a B.E (Medical Electronics) and has work experience in MatLab and Lab View Software as Design Engineer at BCS innovations and Manipal hospital as Biomedical Engineer. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.


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