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A soft copy of a document is a digital copy, one that doesn't exist in physical form or on paper, but is instead stored as binary or machine language in any device or hardware setup. Soft copies of documents are managed much differently than the traditional hard copies that predated the rapid advance of digital media in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
The general idea of document “soft copies” raises many issues regarding the creation, storage, maintenance and care of documents. Many soft copies have been made of extremely old documents predating technology, which are handled much differently than the originals. Companies also create radically different plans for soft copy archiving, documentation and retrieval than they do for any documents that must be kept on paper or in “hard copies.”
Soft copies are often seen as less vulnerable than hard copies of a document. They are, in some ways, much more durable: where a hard copy can be twisted, folded, dirtied, burnt, lost or torn, a soft copy, placed in a proper hardware structure, remains immune to all of these circumstances practically forever. However, soft copies also do have their limitations, some related to the aging or destruction of hardware systems. The difference in durability, portability and use must factor into dedicated soft copy and hard copy document planning.