Some people today may look at a fax machine and ask, “What is that?” And honestly, the rest of us wouldn’t be too shocked by that question. Fax machines tend to be thought of as defunct technology, such as a Walkman or a corded phone. However, unlike a Walkman and a corded phone, many people still use them. While people typically send faxes for business reasons, there are a few instances where a fax machine can come in handy. But what exactly is a fax machine?
In this article, we’ll take a look at this aging technology, as well as who still uses fax machines and why. We’ll also explore how you can use modern tech to send a fax today.
Fax Machines Explained
A fax machine sends faxes using telephone lines. The word fax is short for facsimile which means “make similar.” It was in 1964 that the Xerox Corporation launched the first fax machines.
A fax machine comprises a scanner, processor, and printer. And as mentioned, they use a telephone line. All of these incorporated make up the basic features of a fax machine.
The scanner: Once you enter a document, a scanner will interpret the information as a digital signal. The signal is then transmitted over the phone line.
The processor: The signal is converted into digital bits on the sending side. On the receiving end, the processor converts the information into what the original document looks like.
The phone line: The bits travel to the receiving end device through the lines. Once they reach the end line, the bits are coded information.
The printer: The receiving party will need a printer to print and view the fax.
How To Use a Fax Machine
Not all fax machines are the same. Luckily, there are a few basic steps you take when sending a fax. It’s not terribly complicated, but you do need to have the phone number you are faxing to.
- Find the feeder tray and insert your document into it. If you’re sending multiple sheets, you can add them simultaneously. You can also choose to send a cover sheet.
- Enter the fax number you’re sending to.
- Press the Send button. The button will vary by device, but it should be easy to locate.
- Wait for a confirmation.
- Be sure to remove your original documents from the tray.
Benefits Of Using a Fax Machine
Let’s take a look at why people may still want to use a piece of technology from the 1960s.
Fax machines have been around for a long time. However, today, they’re rarely used. Because they’re too highly in demand, they’re typically low-cost items. For example, you can pick one up for approximately $30.00. And while they do need paper for you to see what someone sent you, you can also get inexpensive paper. Of course, if you work in a legal office, you may want to splurge a little on the paper quality. Probably the most expensive thing about using fax machines is the printer ink.
People will still use fax machines because they are safer than emailing or sending a physical copy of an important document. Anyone who uses technology understands that there’s a risk to privacy involved. Not to mention, you’ll experience issues with bugs and viruses.
However, because a fax machine uses a dedicated phone line, there’s little to no risk in sending one. Fax machines are completely malware-free and are reliable and safe when handling important documents.
Downsides To Fax Machines
Like most tech, there are downsides. Here are the most considerable downsides to using a fax machine.
People rarely use them anymore. If you tell someone you’re going to fax them, they may not be set up to receive a fax. Most people today feel it’s easier to use email to share documents.
Some work environments still use fax machines. Some of these include healthcare, government, and law offices. People choose to use this technology instead of sending an email because it can introduce security risks. In addition, it’s possible sending some personal or business information over the internet can be illegal.
Landline Phone Required
The very way a fax machine works requires you to have a dedicated phone line. That’s why you’ll typically see two phone numbers listed for a business on their website, at least for those businesses that still use faxes. But with the decline of landlines worldwide, most people also do not keep a line open to get faxes.
Going green for most people includes going as paperless as they can. Faxes need paper, but modern technology allows us to conduct business without using paper products. One way to lessen your use of paper is to use a computer or smartphone to send documents.
In addition to needing paper to work, your fax machine will also need plenty of ink. You will need both to receive any fax, so you will always need to keep a supply on hand. Unfortunately, ink cartridges are expensive, and they tend to dry up quickly. You should consider if these costs outweigh the benefits of using one.
Using Your Computer or Smartphone To Send a Fax
You can send faxes if you don’t own a fax machine. Some apps, like eFax, let you send a fax using multiple devices. All you’ll need is the recipient’s number and an internet connection.
Or, it may be easier to use a smartphone to send your fax. Typically, you can download an app, scan your document, and dial a number, all within a few minutes. We’ve created a list of apps that let you send faxes using a computer or your Android or iOS device. These apps are all compatible with Android, iOS, and Web browsers.
Fax Apps To Try:
|Fax App||Supported Files|
|JotNot||DOC, DOCX, PDF|
|eFax||PDF, PNG, TIFF, TXT|
|Microsoft iFax||DOC, DOCX, PDF, JPEG, JPG, PNG|
|HelloFax||DOC, DOCX, PDF, PPSX, PPT, JPG|
|MetroFax||DOC, DOCX, HTML, PDF, TXT|
Using A Fax Machine
While most of us don’t have a need for a fax machine, there are some times they are needed. Whether you need to send important documents for business or personal reasons, using one is a safe option. Because they are free from malware and other issues that plague modern technology, fax machines continue to do their job as the humble, even if some of us consider them outdated, gadgets.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock.com.