Difference Between Hard Copy vs. Soft Copy


Main Difference

Hard copy and Soft copy and two commonly used terms which are used to define the difference between two types of documents. Most of the people generally have an idea about the modification and do not confuse the two but still there are some differences illustrated here which will be helpful in understanding it correctly. The best way to define a soft copy is an electronic image of a document, it can be in various forms such as an attachment on an email, a page typed in Microsoft word and anything that has to be printed out. Hard copy, on the contrary, is something that is printed out on the computer and a piece of evidence which is physically present, it is also called a printout. So the main difference between a soft and hard copy is that a soft copy does not exist materialistically while a paper actually exists. Most of the job offering companies ask for the document to be sent over the internet, these type of records which can be transmitted through the web are soft copies. Pages which have to be sent through the mail and sometimes even have to be attested are known as hard copies. These include documents such as first degrees, job letters, and pay slips. A soft copy is dependent on computers and other such devices to become hard copies while hard copies depend on scanners to become the soft version. In the past, mostly hard copies were required but with the new age, soft copies are gaining importance as well. In simple words, a soft copy is a digital form of a hard copy. One advantage that soft copies have hard copies is that they can be sent anywhere in the world without taking much time. Hard copies can take days, even weeks to move from one place to another. Further detail on both these types is given in the paragraphs below. Soft copies take lesser space, and people do not have to carry it in hand while hard copies have to be taken everywhere.


Comparison Chart

Hard CopySoft Copy
VisibilityHard copies are present physically.Soft copies are not present physically.
FormCan be used in printed form.Only exist on the computer hard drive.
UsageUsed for official purposes.Used for personal purposes.
ConversionCannot be converted to a soft copy.Easily converted into a hard copy.

Definition of Hard Copy

A hard copy can be just defined as a document that has a physical presence. It can either be written down by hand or printed from a computer to make it a hard version. A hard copy ‘s hard to carry and takes more space, it is also difficult to make changes in the document which is in a printed form, but it can be felt humanly. Before the existence of computers, they were the only source of documentation. Transferring such documents to other cities and places takes a long while, and they have less shelf life because of certain factors. One benefit that such documents have is that they do not depend on any other device such as computers to read them and can be accessed without the internet. Hard copy can include various types such as newspaper, magazines, books, and menus. The main advantage of hard copies is that they can be kept at a place of your choice, and there is no danger of losing them once your device stops working or is misplaced.


Definition of Soft Copy

A soft copy can be defined as a document which does not exist in a physical form. It is mostly typed down on a computer and stays there until it is printed, upon which it is converted to a hard copy. These types of documents have taken priority in the recent past because of different features. Such copies are easy to transport from one place or the other because of internet and email. It saves time which a standard airmail takes in carrying a document to other locations. People can send it anywhere within few seconds. It is also editable, and changes can be made any time before it is printed. It can be converted into a hard copy with the help of a printer. It does require a computer and other software such as office or adobe to be read but at the same time does not take any physical space. People can store it in different devices such as online or data drives and can carry them in their pockets.


Differences in a Nutshell

  1. Hard copies are present physically, and people can make use of them at different places. Soft copies do not exist physically.
  2. Hard copies do not depend on computers to be created or read, but soft copies are dependent on computers.
  3. Hard copies consume space and have to be carried at every place while soft copies do not take any real space.
  4. Hard copies take a long time to be sent from one country to another while soft copies can be sent anywhere in the world within few seconds.
  5. Hard copy can be converted into a soft copy with the help of scanner while a soft copy can be transformed into a paper with a photocopier.
  6. Hard copies are more expensive while soft copies are cheaper.
  7. Hard copies have less additional costs while soft copies concur more extra costs.

Comparison Video


It is easy to understand the difference between the two above terms. Both are very different from each other and there is no similarity what so ever. They can also be called the old and modern way of carrying your documents around. Optimistically, this space would have provided a general idea and detailed explanation.