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A soft copy is the unprinted digital document file. This term is often contrasted with hard copy. It can usually be viewed through an appropriate editing program, such as word processing programs, database programs, or presentation software, depending on the file type.
It can be transported from one computer to another through file transfer/downloading mechanisms such as FTP or HTTP, as an email attachment, or through USB drives and other disk drives. Keeping a digital copy of a document can allow easy editing of it later on. See hard copy for information about printed documents.
Using soft copies of work over traditional printed documents eliminates the need for paper and ink. Multiple copies of the same document can be kept in different versions, allowing the user to easily backtrack to an earlier version. Also, soft copies are more easily manipulated by users than hard copies, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
When soft copies are kept on storage devices, they conserve office space. Soft copy documents are more portable compared to hard copy because it is not bulky like hard copy.
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