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Faxes Hanging On
Like a horror movie protagonist that refuses to be killed off, fax machines and Web-based faxing services continue to serve as an important way for many small businesses to exchange documents.
Despite the growing use of email and document-sharing services such as Dropbox or Google Drive to exchange information, faxing remains an important business communications tool.
Faxes remain a mainstay in regulated industries such a banking, healthcare, law and finance, and can be a good choice for exchanging sensitive information that the sender would prefer not to send via the Internet.
Sales may be declining for dedicated fax machines, especially models that use rolls of thermal paper, but faxing remains popular thanks to electronic faxing services and mobile faxing apps.
Traditional Faxes Live
Many small businesses that rely on traditional faxes do so either with a dedicated fax machine or with a multi-function device that also serves as a printer, scanner and photocopier. Once a business expands beyond a solo entrepreneur or two or three employees, using dedicated machines for specific purposes generally provides more efficiency and durability.
Some offices using multi-function or dedicated fax machines may choose to devote a phone line specifically to the machine; others may choose to have their fax machine share a line with a phone extension (software integrated into the machine helps it identify the type of call).
E-Fax Gaining Popularity
E-fax applications offer a number of potential advantages over traditional fax machines, starting with the convenience of being able to receive a fax directly into your email system. Incoming fax documents are automatically converted into PDF format and delivered via email, so they can be printed or stored electronically.
Another potential advantage of e-faxing is that you can receive documents anywhere you have Internet or email access. If you are outside your office, receiving a fax electronically is more convenient than heading to a hotel business center to retrieve a fax or waiting for a document to be slipped under your door.
Sending an e-fax is basically the same as printing a document -- when you install your e-fax software, you create a new printer driver on your PC or network. To send a document, you access the e-fax software in your print menu and enter a destination number. The document is then uploaded to your e-fax service provider and faxed to its destination.
Most e-fax applications can send a variety of file formats, including word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, presentations and images.
E-fax service is generally available from a variety of providers for a monthly fee, plus a per-page charge for sending and receiving faxes.
Proponents of e-faxing say it offers an economical alternative to dedicated fax machines because it does not tie up a phone line or use printing supplies. In addition, because e-fax service providers offer storage of incoming documents as an additional feature, using an e-fax service provides a form of online backup for documents you receive.
Popular faxing services include EFax, MyFax, RingCentral Fax, and others.
Similarly, a growing number of mobile faxing apps allow you to photograph a document with your phone or tablet camera. You then upload the image to a service that faxes it to your recipient.