This may come as a surprise to some, but many people still send and receive faxes. If you need to send or receive faxes, there are a couple methods that you can take advantage of to make sure your faxing requirements are met at the lowest possible costs. In this post, I'll discuss the various choices and methods that you can use, point out their advantages and disadvantages, and the targeted volume of faxes sent/received per month.
First, very low volume users- People that rarely have the need to send or receive a fax.
If you have a multi function printer (MFP) with faxing capability, you can connect it to your phone line. If you only have 1 phone line (we'll discuss a separate fax line later), you would typically set the defaults on the (MFP) to not answer incoming calls. To send a fax, you simply insert the document you want to send, dial the number on the MFP, and away it goes. To receive a fax, you would have to set the fax to answer mode, tell the sender to then send the fax and it would then be received on your end.
Advantages: Very low cost, simple setup and use.
Disadvantages: Typically, you need to be there to set the MFP to receive a fax. With some telephone service providers, you can arrange for a "distinctive ring" to signal the MFP to answer and receive an incoming fax, but this usually involves paying extra fees to the phone company. Also, some telephone service providers systems do not work well with the analog signals used by faxing machines.
If you only have the occasional need to send a fax, but not receive, there are several web sites (http://faxzero.com as an example) where you can send a fax for free.
Disadvantages: Steps involved- Attach the file you want to fax, enter confirmation code, log into e-mail and confirm you want to send, wait for successful receipt e-mail. Limited number of pages per fax and limited number of faxes per day. Also, this is only useful for sending a fax. If you need to receive one, other methods must be employed.
If you send and receive faxes on a regular basis, you might have a separate phone line dedicated just for faxes. I still have numerous customers that fit this situation.
Advantages: Probably the easiest to set up and use. Old world POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service).
Disadvantages: Cost. Typically a second phone line will run about $25.00 per month. I have seen people with dedicated fax lines that send/ receive less than a dozen faxes per month. This makes the cost of each fax absurdly expensive.
E-mail faxing. There are numerous services out there that can provide e-mail to fax service, such as E-Fax (http://efax.com). This is generally a less expensive way to go instead of a dedicated phone line. The service provider will provide you with a fax number. When someone sends you a fax, you receive an e-mail notification and the fax is either included with the e-mail or as an attachment.
Advantages: Less expensive (but not always) than a POTS.
Disadvantages: Can sometimes be cumbersome to use. May require proprietary software for it to work. Some vendors have strict limits on the number of pages/ faxes you can send.
The service I use is one from FaxAway (http://faxaway.com). In my next post, I'll describe how it works and why I think it's the best possible solution for faxing.