A hard copy is anything that has been printed on paper. Hard copies allow data to be read without the need of a computer and are often required when someone needs to sign a document.
How is a hard copy made on a computer?
How is a hard copy put back into a computer?
To create a digital version of a hard copy (soft copy) an optical scanner is typically used to either scan and create an image of the page or uses OCR to read the page and input the information into a file.