It’s been almost 40 years since the fax machine became immensely popular, and a must-have item in offices all over the World. During those decades, faxing helped improve the communications between businesses, and paved the way for the arrival of digital communication technology.
Before fax existed, the quickest way to send or receive a document was through a specialized courier service. Mailmen hurried from one office to another to make sure sensitive documents arrived in the correct hands. It was pretty tiresome for the person doing the job, and slow for those in charge of communications. Faxing cut the time it took to do so in minutes, transmitting documents in a few minutes, almost like magic.
Today, faxing might seem like old technology, given the fact that we can send an emoji from the USA to a person living in Thailand in just a few milliseconds. But the truth is that fax has never gone completely out of style. Despite the advances of technology, none of the common digital alternatives are as secure as faxing. Ways of communicating such as traditional email and instant messaging are prone to suffer from interceptions and hacking.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to go and buy a second-hand fax machine from the 90s to send or receive faxes. I mean, sure, it’s an option and if the machine is in good condition, it will work, but there are better and faster ways to fax these days. Let’s take a look at them.
Using the Help of an Online Fax Service.
Right now this is the best way to send and receive faxes. There are various companies that for a monthly fee let you send a predetermined amount of faxes per month, it varies from plan to plan and from service to service, but on average you can expect to fax 300 pages per month for around $10.
One of the main benefits of this method is that all services give you a virtual fax number used for incoming faxes. This is a line that stays active all the time, it can’t be interrupted and doesn’t require any type of physical installation. At the moment of signing up, you can pick between a local or a toll-free number, which is perfect for businesses that plan to communicate easily with clients.
Setting up an online fax service account isn’t hard. This website will show you how to get started in less than a minute, just make sure you invest the time researching your chosen provider.
Using a Multifunction Printer.
If you can’t find a fax machine for sale near you, you can always opt to use a multifunction printer with faxing capabilities. Many popular brands like HP or Epson have developed printers that can also scan and fax.
Don’t mistake this way of faxing with online faxing though. Printers, like fax machines, need a connection to a physical phone line in order to work. Many people think that when they buy one of these WiFi printers, they can fax over the Internet, but the truth is that WiFi-only refers to the method of connecting the printer to your computer.
A fax machine connected to a landline can be a problem if you have a shared line. If someone picks up the phone, the fax transmission is interrupted, requiring you to start the process all over again, so you may need to invest in a dedicated fax line.
Using a Fax Modem.
Fax modems are external devices that you plug to the computer and are capable of converting fax signals into digital ones. These devices were first used alongside desktop fax software like the one included with Windows operating systems. Today, they are hard to find, and only recommended if you have a device that can work this way or if you are using an old computer.
Some models of computers come with an integrated fax modem. You can check if yours have it by looking for two phone jacks on the back or side of the case. Remember that in order to use it you’ll need to install the corresponding Windows drivers.
Using a Mobile Fax App.
The latest way to fax online is also the one that gives us the most freedom. After all, who wouldn’t want to simply have their fax machines in their pockets?
Most mobile fax apps are pretty easy to use, you just click on Send fax and fill out the details on a form, including your name, file to be faxed, and recipient’s number. Depending on the app you are using you may enjoy additional features such as electronic signing, scheduling, and cloud storage integration.
There are two kinds of apps out there, those that work by charging you per fax and those that work with your online fax service subscription. Stand-alone apps are better if you just want to send a single fax once in a while, but they can’t be used to receive a fax, they don’t give you a virtual fax line. With a service, your app is linked to your virtual fax number so you literally receive faxes on the go.
Going to an Office Store, UPS, FedEx
If all other options are for a reason unavailable for you, you can always head to the nearest office store and use their fax service. These establishments have their own fax machines, and some of them can also assist you in receiving faxes as well. The price varies according to the destination and of course, according to the number of pages you wish to send.
Delivery services such as UPS and FedEx also have faxing services in their stores. You can send and receive fax locally or internationally, receive instant confirmations, and some of them even give you a complimentary cover sheet. If you are unable to be present to receive a fax, an employee will hold it until you are able to go and pick it up.
Fax is certainly not dead, but why keep using old technology when things have evolved so much? Using one of these options will help you take care of your faxes. The best alternative right now is to simply use a digital fax provider, it’s not only more cost-effective in the long run, but you can also get started in just a few minutes from now.