If you've clicked on this article, you've likely found yourself in an interesting predicament: you need to send faxes, but buying a fax machine would mean spending hundreds on a clunky, outdated machine that takes up office space.
On the one hand, buying a fax machine would solve your problem. But on the other, connecting a fax machine to Australia's NBN is difficult.
So what should you do?
While we can't answer that question for you, we can give you a rundown of your faxing options in 2021. So in this article, we'll cover fax machines, online faxing and the reasons you might choose each option.
Fax Machine Options in 2021
There are two ways to fax in 2021: through a fax machine or via online faxing. Here's how they work.
Fax machines allow you to transmit documents by analysing their contents and sending the information through fax lines. Then, the receiving fax machine prints the fax onto paper for your recipient.
How it works
You can send a fax through a fax machine by:
Any faxes you receive will print automatically.
To fax through a fax machine, you will need to purchase a machine and a telephone adapter from your local office supply store. The telephone adapter is necessary to fax in a post-NBN Australia as the NBN rollout disconnected most analog fax lines.
To use your machine, you connect it to the digital network through the telephone adapter. Then, purchase a number from a VoIP/ SIP provider and connect it to your machine.
Note: While some fax machines can connect to the digital network through a telephone adapter, many machines are simply incompatible with the adapter.
The average cost of running a fax machine is $1,259.76 annually. This includes the cost of machine maintenance, toner, paper, a fax number, electricity and the machine.
Online faxing relies on the same basic concept as fax machines; only online faxing encrypts your files with Transport Layer Security (TLS) and transmits them via the internet. Naturally, you can fax in four ways with an online faxing provider like eFax:
Through the eFax mobile app (available on iOS and Android devices)
Through the eFax desktop app
Through your email
Through the eFax web portal
People sometimes call online faxing "efaxing", "digital faxing", or "internet faxing," but these all mean the same thing.
How it works
To send a fax with online faxing, you need to sign up with an online faxing provider. Then, you can send a fax by:
You can find the faxes you received in your email inbox or through your online faxing system.
Providers like eFax offer online faxing services worldwide. Currently, eFax services 3,500 cities in 46 countries (including Australia).
To get started with online faxing, you need a device and an internet connection. Then, you can sign up through this signup link. You don't need to purchase a number to fax online, as providers like eFax will give you one for free.
Online faxing providers like eFax charge a flat fee either annually or monthly to use their service. Then, you simply pay for any extra pages you use at a rate of $0.10 per page (or more for international faxes).
eFax currently offers several plans, including:
eFax Plus = Which costs $169.50 annually and includes 300 pages a month
eFax Pro = Which costs $170.55 annually and includes 400 pages a month
eFax Premium = Which costs $215.55 annually and includes 600 pages a month
Why Use Fax at All?
It might surprise you to learn that millions of people still send faxes despite the invention of other document-sharing tools like email.
In fact, people send an estimated 17 billion faxes each year. Some of these faxes are sent through online faxing, while others are sent through the 43 million fax machines still in operation.
Faxing has also remained as popular as ever in many businesses. In 2017, a study of 200 large businesses found that 82% of workers believed they faxed the same amount or more than they did the previous year. Another (less scientific) survey conducted on 1,513 IT professionals the same year found that 89% still use faxes. That survey showed that:
62% use fax machines
15% use a fax server
13% use online faxing
So why are so many people still sending faxes? While we don't know the exact reason each person chooses to fax, they may do so because:
When you need to send a document to a colleague, your first thought might be "email". But maybe it shouldn't be.
In a 2016 study, PhishMe sent 8 million phishing emails to over 3.5 million people (phishing emails impersonate someone you know to trick you into sending personal information or opening a compromised file or document). As a result, they were able to launch mock cyber attacks on thousands of people and concluded that "phishing is the No. 1 attack vector today."
The study also found that email is a precarious form of communication for people in many fields, including education. During the study, researchers obtained a response from 49% of education professionals when they sent them an email about a package delivery.
With those results in mind, it's no wonder the education field still uses faxing.
Around Australia, educators use fax services to send documents with student's private information to colleagues, parents, and the Department of Education. As this data concerns minors, people must send it securely, and thus, they fax it.
In some parts of the world, you can get into your car and drive into another country to deliver an important document. Considering Australia's geography, that's simply not possible here.
Instead, Australians need to rely on other forms of document sharing - like faxing. Faxing allows you to send documents overseas quickly, as it can take less than 60 seconds to send a fax with a service like eFax.
Faxing documents is also easier than mailing them, as every country uses a standardised fax number format. This means that the process of faxing internationally and domestically is almost identical (though international faxing is generally more expensive).
Naturally, faxing is crucial for organisations with operations in multiple countries. This is especially true in fields where the documents people send are highly confidential (for example, in law or pharmaceutical manufacturing).
When you need to send a message to a colleague, you might use an instant message tool like Slack. Or, when you need to send a detailed message to a large group, you might use email.
But what happens when you need to send a large document? Most email and message providers limit file sharing to 20 MB, making it impossible to send long documents, video files and audio clips.
Those limitations just don't apply to faxing. While you can't send a video file over a fax machine, you can send documents that are hundreds of pages long. Or, with an online fax provider like eFax, you could send files up to 3 GB.
In industries like healthcare, faxing documents quickly is essential to keeping things running smoothly, as healthcare professionals frequently need to send files between hospitals, GP's clinics, pharmacies and nursing homes.
Faxing is also an integral part of the industry, as 53% of healthcare professionals use fax as their primary letter-sending method.
Evolution of the Fax Machine and Faxing Technology
Faxing technology is now approximately 178 years old, as Alexander Bain conceptualised the concept for the first fax machine in 1843.
However, if you saw one of those fax machines today, you likely wouldn't recognise it.
Since Bain's invention, inventors like Frederick Bakewell, Giovanni Caselli, Arthur Korn, Edouard Belin, Herbert E. Ives and Shelford Bidwell have all made significant advances in faxing technology. Those advances resulted in the first widely used fax machines released in the mid-1900s by companies like Xerox.
The years between 1970 and 2000 were the "golden age" for fax machines, as people used them to send professional documents, party invitations, personal messages, and even advertisements. It was during this period (specifically in the 1980s), governments and businesses developed the ITU-G3 Facsimile Standards.
Though fax machines are still widely used today, they haven't been the only form of faxing for over two decades. Since 1996, online fax providers have helped people send faxes digitally.
But what's the argument for online faxing, and should you embrace it?
Traditional Vs Online Faxing: Which is Better For You?
When choosing between traditional and online faxing, you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons of both options. Here's a brief breakdown.
Advantages of Fax Machines
Disadvantages of Fax Machines
Larger carbon footprint (from toner, machine materials and paper)
Only handles one fax at a time
Cannot store faxes for you
No cybersecurity measures
May not connect to the NBN (so you would need to use a telephone adapter)
Advantages of online faxing
Cheaper than a fax machine
No maintenance required
Allows you to sign documents digitally
Transmits many file types (including .MOV and .MP3 files)
Protects your documents with TLS encryption
Allows you to fax through your phone, tablet and computer
Lower carbon footprint (as it doesn't require toner or paper)
Disadvantages of online faxing
Benefits of Online Faxing With eFax
If you're considering purchasing a fax machine but don't want a new machine in the office, eFax can help. eFax is a leading online fax provider that has helped millions of people fax since 1997. Currently, eFax transmits over a billion faxes monthly from eleven million customers worldwide.
But eFax isn't your standard faxing service, as three things set eFax apart:
eFax's online faxing system includes features like email faxing, digital signatures, a mobile app, large file transfer (up to 3 GB), cloud-based storage, a PDF converter and an address book
eFax is an accredited Business NBN Provider that can help you transition onto the new network
eFax gives all customers a free fax number when they sign up
If you'd like to test eFax yourself, you can try it with eFax's free 30-day free trial. As part of your free trial, you'll get a free fax number and up to 400 free faxes.
To start your free trial, click here
or call 1800 283 361.