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Fax Machine Vs. Online Faxing Service

When people hear about new technologies replacing tried-and-true ones, it seems like they’re always waiting for a catch. Online fax services are one of the few upgrades from the traditional way of doing things where there is literally no reason not to switch — even if you’ve just bought a fax machine this week. (Click here to see our comparison of online fax services.)

Why would I switch from my fax machine?

  • No setup fee
    • A new or refurbished fax machines can cost $150-$2,000
  • FREE 24/7 troubleshooting
    • Service on a fax machine costs ~$50 per visit
  • Online fax users save $50- $500 per month by switching from a traditional fax machine
    • Ink, paper, monthly fax phone line bill, service visits
  • Send & receive multiple faxes at simultaneously
    • Fax machines require loading pages individually, dial-up, scan, transfer and receive or repeat BEFORE for sending each fax
    • If a fax machine is already in the process of receiving a fax, the line will be busy and faxes cannot be received.

To learn more about the specific benefits, click on any of the links below to get more details:

Online Fax Services Are Less Expensive

Online Fax

Traditional Fax Machine

  • Free to set up
  • No phone line is needed
  • Average cost is less than 5¢ per page
  • Includes free tech support and software updates
  • Up to $2,000 in initial equipment costs
  • A phone line connection is required
  • Average cost of faxing runs at about 10¢ per page
  • Maintenance costs start at $50 per visit

Online Fax Services Are More Efficient

Online Fax

Traditional Fax Machine

  • Send and receive faxes on any device you can access the Web or your email inbox
  • Send multiple faxes at once
  • Schedule fax transmissions to be sent at specific times
  • Block or delete junk faxes without wasting time reading or paper printing them
  • Only one access point for fax transmissions
  • Must wait for one fax to send before next one can begin
  • Have to print every fax if you need a hard copy or not
  • Incur a wide range of overhead costs: equipment, paper, line connections, and maintenance.

Online Fax Services Are More Secure

Online Fax

Traditional Fax Machine

  • Transmissions stored in password-protected online interface and/or individual email account
  • Nearly impossible for someone else to accidentally read confidential documents
  • Faxes are sent and received using highly sophisticated encrypted transmissions
  • Faxes sit in machine’s tray exposed to prying eyes until they are retrieved
  • Phone lines are not encrypted and are vulnerable to hacking
  • Seriously, are you still considering buying a fax machine?

Fax Services Are Environmentally Friendly

Online Fax

Traditional Fax Machine

  • Receive faxes even when your devices are turned off
  • Access faxes through any Web-connected device you are already using.
  • View, sign, and send faxes electronically
  • Never requires the use of printer paper
  • Constantly on and running in order to receive faxes
  • Burns on average 321 kilowatt hours of electricity per year
  • When running, emits carbon dioxide, ozone, and styrene greenhouse gasses
  • Printer/Fax paper is made with environmentally harmful bleaching agents
  • Uses on average 5,000 sheets of paper annually

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for an online fax service now!

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Visit our Internet Fax Filter Page to get recommendations on plans that meet your faxing criteria. Or try using this Email Fax Buyer’s Guide if you are unsure of your specific faxing needs.

Fax Machine Technology Overview

How Does a Fax Machine Work?

To get a little technical, a sensor in the fax machine reads the document and separates it into a grid of black and white dots. Depending on whether it is black or white, each dot is either a zero for off or a one for on. The zeros and ones are then sent through the phone line where the recipient fax machine converts the signal back into a series of black and white dots and prints the document.

How Does Online Faxing Work?

Receiving faxes through online fax services is straightforward. You can either choose to have them sent to an email address, into your online interface, or both. It’s that simple. Most online faxing providers have a smart phone app that will also allow you to send or receive faxes directly from your phone.

There are several ways in which online fax services let you send a fax.


The simplest option is by emailing the online fax service with the fax document(s) saved as an attachment. Each service has their own process for this form of transmission, and it usually requires adding email addresses to the account so the service can recognize where to attribute the used fax pages as well as the “From:” fax number. Once the online fax service receives the emailed fax, it sends the fax to the recipient’s fax number you’ve included in the email.

Most Secure

The most secure way to send faxes from the service’s website through an online interface or mobile app which is password protected and encrypts documents as soon as they are uploaded. After that, just enter in the fax number you wish to send it to and click “send.” In addition to security, the interface usually includes multiple advantages over email such as the ability to import contact lists, electronically sign documents, choose a cover page template, and a host of other slick features.

Newest Technology

The most recent wrinkle in online faxing has come through Microsoft Office integration. This form of transmission — offered by most of the top online fax services — allows you to fax directly from an Office program instead of having to upload a document to an email or their interface. Like email-to-fax, the process varies from service to service, but it in general it is done by going into the “Print” menu and selecting the online fax service instead of a printer.

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