Since the invention of the computer, technology has continued to make life easier for everyone around the world. Years ago, the fastest way to communicate with someone far away was to send a letter, but that has since been replaced by a variety of lightning-speed messaging options. However, as quick and easy as sending a text message or an email can be, they are not as effective at securely sending official documents with the same speed.
Technological advancements have not ignored the fax machine, either. In fact, reliable online faxing has become the new wave of how to use this technology without requiring a clunky machine to do the work. Online faxing has several advantages that businesses benefit from, as well as a few drawbacks that should be considered.
The first fax machine was invented as far back as 1843, but the version people recognize today was developed in 1964, and popularized in the 1980s. After the rise in email in the 1990s and early 2000s, the fax machine saw a dip in usage. However, unlike other technologies, such as the pager or MP3 player, faxing technology is crucial to many important industries even today.
Doctors often use faxing technology to remain HIPAA compliant while sending and receiving confidential patient medical records. Similarly, attorneys will often use faxing technology to send court documents and records that require discretion and security. Now that documents can be faxed online, more businesses can easily benefit from the many advantages that faxes offer over other messaging systems.
Before getting into the advantages and disadvantages of sending a fax online, it is essential to understand what online faxing is and how it is done. Online faxing, at its core, transcribes a traditional faxed document into an email and visa versa. Any document that can be attached to an email can also be sent as an online fax, including PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents, and scanned images.
Online faxing is a service offered through a third-party subscription service, so businesses will not need any special equipment or software to do it. The service provider does the work of transforming outgoing faxes to emails or incoming emails to faxes for a fee. The business using the service only needs a reliable internet connection and a means to send and receive emails to make it work.
Technology has had a major impact on business processes which has extended to how businesses send faxes. Online faxing has seen exponential growth in popularity over the last few years for the following reasons:
Fax machines can be an overlooked part of setting up a new small business for many people. Fortunately, with online faxing, there is no need to use a fax machine to send a fax anymore. There is no special hardware or software for business owners to buy, so they can simply rely on the internet connections and email accounts they already have.
Business owners can easily send a fax from virtually anywhere. There are even mobile apps that allow business owners to send a fax right from their phone to anywhere in the world, no matter if they are at home or abroad.
Traditional fax machines rely on telephone networks to send and receive documents. As with dial-up internet, this can be a slower process than sending an email. Online faxing allows business owners to send a fax with the same lightning speed they use with many other internet and mobile-network-based messaging applications.
Sending a fax online has all the same perks as using a traditional fax machine, but with the added benefit of superior accessibility. Online faxing can be done on any computer or mobile device that is connected to the internet, so business owners do not have to worry about getting to the right piece of equipment to send a fax. Online faxing also offers new and improved features like multi-user functionality and document sharing, which lets several users receive the same fax simultaneously.
The offices of both doctors and attorneys often receive several faxes per day, so a good filing system is crucial. Rather than having a cumbersome and failure-prone paper filing system, online faxing makes storing and retrieving faxes simple. A cloud service quickly organizes and stores all faxes sent and received, so finding a document is as simple as pushing a button.
Security is a top concern for most business owners, especially if they have access to their customers’ personal information. Online faxing hosts use the most state-of-the-art encryption technology to ensure that their data remains secure from the prying eyes of hackers. The only people who can see the information are the person who sent the fax and the person who receives it.
Like any technological advancement, there are drawbacks to using online faxing that business owners must consider. These include:
As is the case with any piece of tech, failure is not out of the question. Power outages, internet service interruptions, and hiccups in the power at the service provider's location can put online faxing communications on hold. Most of these drawbacks can also apply to a traditional fax machine, so it is essential to understand what they may be.
Businesses that already have a fax machine setup may find the addition of an online faxing service to be redundant. Additionally, there may be circumstances where a document is required to have a person’s hand-written signature on paperwork that is legally binding. This can present challenges for businesses that may consider relying solely on online faxing.
While paper storage can be tedious and take up a lot of space, business owners’ storage capacity is only limited by how much physical space they have available. Online faxing services often have limits on how much cloud storage they offer and for how long the service allows businesses to store faxed documents.
Business owners can solve the problem by forwarding their faxes to a cloud service for more permanent, easily accessible storage. However, this can increase the overall cost of faxing for the business.
Online faxing service providers operate using a standard monthly subscription. They typically have tiers that businesses can subscribe to depending on their needs. For businesses that use less than 300 faxed pages per month, this can be a money-saving feature. However, businesses that use faxed documents as part of their daily practice may find the fees a bit high compared to using a traditional fax machine.
Sending a fax may seem like an outdated practice, but it is actually incredibly useful for a variety of businesses. Online faxing services bring this tried-and-true method of sharing documents into the digital age and make it easy for business owners to send faxes from wherever they are to anywhere in the world at lightning speed. Still, whether a business benefits from sending a fax online versus using a traditional fax machine depends on the needs of the business.