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Table of contents
What is a Hard copy?
Advantages of Hard copy
Disadvantages of Hard copy
What is a Soft copy?
Advantages of Soft copy
Disadvantages of Soft copy
Difference between Hard copy and Soft copy
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an example of a hard copy?
Is paper hard or soft copy?
Is PDF a hard copy?
Is book hard copy or soft copy?
What is soft copy example?
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Difference Between Hard copy and Soft copy

Author Lakshya Gupta
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Ashwin Goyal
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A hard copy is a physical form of data, like printed documents or photos, while a soft copy is digital, stored on a computer or drive. Hard copies can degrade over time due to wear and tear.

difference between hard copy and soft copy

This blog will give you detailed information about Hard copy and Soft copy. The hard copy is a printed version of the document or a picture we can touch, while the Soft copy is the digital version.

Further in this article, we will discuss soft copy vs hard copy in detailBoth have their advantages and disadvantages. First, let’s start with an Introduction to the hard and soft copies.

What is a Hard copy?

Term Hard copy refers to the physical or printed copy of the documents, images, or other data. We can touch or feel the hard copy in our hands. It can be generated using printers or any photocopy machine. They are like permanent copies. There are many advantages and disadvantages of hard copies.

Advantages of Hard copy

  • Accessibility: Hard copies are easy to access as they are physical copies or printed forms of digital information. They do not require special software or devices to access or read them on smartphones or computers.
  • Durability: Hard copies are more durable because they are damage resistant to any power outage or electronic failure. They are very likely to be recovered or deleted accidentally.
  • Security: Hard copies are more secure than soft copies based on cyber-attacks. Since hard copies are printed form and can’t be modified once published, no hacker can manipulate data in the hard copy.
  • Permanence: Hard copies are permanent copies. We can keep it as long as we need. Since they are in printed form, storing them is no memory requirement.

Disadvantages of Hard copy

  • Cost: Hard copies are printed form, so we have to print them to make hard copies from soft copies, which is highly costly, especially in the case of color print or large documents.
  • Time-consuming: Hard copy preparation can be time-consuming because printing is time-consuming. We have to print pages of any document individually, which takes a very long time, especially for large documents.
  • Storage: Hard copies are physical copies, requiring a lot of physical storage to keep them safe. For example, Books, magazines, all those things need ample space around us.

Also see, Difference Between Jfet and Mosfet

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What is a Soft copy?

Soft copy is the digital or electronic copy of documents, images, or other data. We can not touch or feel the soft copy in our hands. We can store a soft copy in any electronic device like a computer, laptop, or USB drive. In today's digital world, soft copies are more liked by people. There are many advantages and disadvantages of hard copies.

Advantages of Soft copy

  • Searchability: We can find specific things, words, or keywords in any soft copies using digital search functions. This functionality is present in almost every document reader today.
  • Cost-effective: Creating a soft copy is much more cost-effective than printing a hard copy. It does not require any physical entities. Soft copies are made using digital tools and also accessed by them only.
  • Environment-friendly: Soft copies are environment-friendly since they do not require any paper, ink, or other resources which can create any harmful effect on the environment while making them. 
  • Ease of sharing: Soft copies are very easy to share using various tools like email, google drive, or any other cloud service. The capability of sharing these files digitally makes them very much useful.
  • Ease in editing: Soft copies are very to edit or modify. We can edit or modify them at any time using different tools available. This property of soft copy is very much helpful since in hard copies. We have to print it again if found any changes after printing it.

Disadvantages of Soft copy

  • Permanence: Soft copies can be lost or corrupted easily because they are digital copies. Say in case the hard drive is corrupted. It is very difficult to recover all the data. 
  • Security issue: There are many threats while using soft copies, such as hacking or viruses. It can be manipulated or modified if these files or data are not protected properly.
  • Tool dependence: Unlike hard copies, soft copies require tools to create, edit or access them. Smartphones, tablets, or laptops are used to access soft copies.

Difference between Hard copy and Soft copy

Below is the table showing the difference between hard copy and soft copy.

Parameters Hard Copy Soft Copy
Definition A physical or printed copy of documents. Digital or electrical copy of documents.
Accessibility It can be accessed without any requirement of the Internet. Users can access it from anywhere with access to the internet.
Storage Requires a lot of physical storage. It can be stored in a computer or cloud.
Cost Expensive to produce. No requirement of any money to produce it.
Portability Difficult to transport since it can be bulky. Easy to transport on any laptop, tablet, or phone.
Searchability Difficult to search in large documents. Easy to search in any document.
Interconvertablity Hard copies can’t be converted to soft copies. Soft copies can be converted to hard copies easily.
Impact on the environment It can harm the environment because it is treated as waste after use. No major impact on environment.
SDLP Testing is a part of the SDLP phase. Debugging is the consequence of testing.
Security Free from any cyber attack. It can be hacked or modified by hackers.
Example Books, newspapers, magazines, etc. Pdf file, scanned copy, word doc, presentation file, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a hard copy?

A hard copy refers to a physical printout of a document, such as a paper report, letter, or photograph.

Is paper hard or soft copy?

Paper is considered a hard copy because it physically exists and can be touched and handled.

Is PDF a hard copy?

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a digital format used for electronic documents, not a hard copy printed on paper.

Is book hard copy or soft copy?

A book is typically considered a hard copy because it exists in physical form, with pages bound together.

What is soft copy example?

A soft copy refers to digital content displayed on a screen, like electronic documents, web pages, or images viewed on a computer or device.


Terms Hard Copy and Soft Copy are the two different types of documents. Hard copies are the physical, while soft copies are the digital form of the document. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we covered all the important things related to hard copy and soft copy, their advantages, and their disadvantages. Also, the difference between hard copy and soft copy.

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