How long has it been since you sent someone a fax? Many people can’t say unless they work somewhere where faxing is still used. Then they probably sent at least one fax today.
Faxing seems like something that ended in the late 90s or early 2000s when email and digital everything became the norm. But some industries still rely on faxing and fax machines even in the era of online communication.
What’s a fax?
Short for “facsimile,” fax is simply an exact copy of a document sent to someone using equipment that makes transfers through an analog phone line. In the late 80s, fax machines became widely used for the ease and speed for sending documents to someone else quickly.
Today you can still buy fax machines, but most are printers with integrated faxing capabilities. It’s easy to send documents anywhere day or night quickly. It’s believed that faxing is more secure than sending an email attachment. But that’s not necessarily the case when someone sends a fax to the wrong number.
Who still uses faxing?
You’d be surprised to learn that healthcare, law enforcement, government agencies, mortgage companies, and law offices still use fax machines and technology even in the 21st Century. That doesn’t mean they all have standalone fax machines. Facsimile document transfer is available with online and cloud-based solutions that achieve the same goal.
Fax technology has stayed relatively constant in relation to the always-changing online tech. It’s also still reliable—how often do emails end up in spam folders or texts go to the wrong number? Many industries believe that faxing documents is secure and reliable, even with email and other methods of sending documents.
Fax transmissions are also HIPAA-compliant for health record privacy. Many healthcare providers are reluctant to abandon their fax over concerns about the online privacy of patient medical records.
Fax machines also level the playing field for offices with different systems since sending documents via fax is a consistent technology. Otherwise, each office would need a complete revamp of its systems.
One thing email doesn’t have is a confirmation page. This page is a “paper trail” record of the recipient’s number receiving the transmission.
Disadvantages to using a fax machine
While many offices still embrace the fax machine, they do come with some drawbacks:
- They require a traditional landline to function
- They need paper, ink, toner, and additional equipment to send and receive
- They are not widely accessible, and you must be near the fax machine to receive a document
- The infamous paper jams in copiers, printers, and fax machines and other troubleshooting
- If the office is closed, no one will be available to receive the document
- For a fax machine in an open office, anyone can pick up and read something confidential
- You may not be able to send a fax to multiple recipients as you can with email, so it’s not scalable for a growing business
- Fax machines aren’t eco-friendly and will print every fax that comes through, including junk faxes, using excess paper
- Sending faxes internationally over a landline can become expensive
These factors can add substantially to the cost of owning and operating a fax machine in the office.
A better alternative is Web Faxing
Even today, many offices stand by the standalone fax machine or have faxing incorporated into a network printer. Web faxing online with a cloud-based system can make sending and receiving faxes faster and easier and eliminate the need for a dedicated phone line.
You can send faxes quickly for less than a fax machine. It’s also more eco-friendly than a fax machine since you don’t have to use paper to print out every fax that comes in. Web faxing and faxing apps for your smartphone gives you the same advantage of faxing at a fraction of the cost and time commitment.
Online web faxing is the ideal alternative to having a standalone fax machine in your office. Choose from several providers that offer free to low-cost faxing, including some that let you fax for free when you only need it occasionally. Receiving a fax may require an upgrade to a paid tier. Some offer to fax through a PC, mobile device, or even with a plugin for your web browser.
You can still print the faxes you receive as you would with a standard fax machine or printer. The difference is that you don’t have to print all the faxes, just the ones you need. Faxed documents go where you need them, not to a fax machine where anyone might pick up the prints. And team members can do this from anywhere, meaning nobody must stand by the fax machine to wait for the document to arrive.
With web faxing you can send faxes quickly for less than a fax machine. It’s also more eco-friendly than a fax machine since you don’t have to use paper to print out every fax that comes in.
Fax Over VoIP
If you’ve considered switching your company’s phones to a VoIP system to lower your communication costs, faxing is one good reason to switch.
Standard fax machines work over analog systems using a landline and a dedicated number. Without a landline, you’ll need a VoIP gateway and an ATA (Analog Telephony Adapter) that supports the T38 protocol that allows a fax machine to work on VoIP. Otherwise, the fax machine can’t send a transmission. A receiving fax machine also uses analog, complicating matters.
Because VoIP eliminates the need for a landline, web faxing goes through the VoIP system’s web portal. Recipients can read their faxes through the interface. For an additional monthly fee, you can also get a dedicated web fax number to have unlimited faxes sent to email to read in the user web portal.
The multiple options available for faxing offer many types of electronic document transfers. Web faxing over VoIP also reduces your cost of ownership of the standalone fax machine, including the landline, paper, ink, toner, and other costs.
If your company still relies heavily on faxing but needs to update, shouldn’t you consider switching to VoIP? Contact Press8 Telecom today to discuss upgrading your small business phone system to a new, flexible VoIP system for less money than a traditional hosted PBX system. We’ll give you a free quote on the system that works for your company.