December 8, 2022

Fax vs. eFax - What’s the Difference?

Change can be difficult, especially when you have become used to working a certain way.  When fax machines first appeared, they were a technological marvel. The technology completely revolutionized how people share data. 

The digital or online fax service is a 21st-century equivalent of the fax machine.  Let’s explore the differences between traditional faxing and electronic faxing.

Source: Pexels

So, what exactly is a Digital Fax?

Online fax services allow e-mailed documents to be faxed electronically via the Internet. Often called electronic faxing or virtual faxing, it involves paperless transactions. A separate system is required for its operation. 

In contrast, old-fashioned faxes use scanning through one or more fax machines, which record images and transmit them to a fax machine far away.

What are common differences? | Simple guide

Traditional fax machines are termed heavy hardware units.  A quick Google search shows that around 43 million fax machines are still in operation and can still be found in the UK in a huge infrastructure like the NHS (National Health Service).  

To use a fax machine, a company needs landline access. It also needs to purchase accessories such as paper and ink toners.   The maintenance costs of traditional fax machines are high and this makes sending a traditional fax expensive. 

The alternative to the fax machine are internet fax services. This way of sending faxes cuts out the fax machine and all its associated costs. 

Most companies who learn that newer technologies are replacing the old methods, feel nervous about the change but online fax services are pretty innovative and are much easier to manage.  

Wikipedia explains that an online fax service is the use of internet protocols to send a fax rather than the standard phone line. [1] 

To get started, you need to sign up for an online fax service that will provide an alternative way to send and receive faxes online. It's so simple that there is no reason to hang onto your phone line fax service.

Trythatch.com has a simple process to get your business sending and receiving faxes and digital communication today!

The Traditional Fax Machine vs the Online Fax Service

Traditional Fax Machine

Online Fax

Office space, heavy machinery and a fixed phone line needed

No machinery and only an internet connection required to use online fax services

Have to be at the fax machine location

Easy access to the service anywhere in the world as long as you have a computer, tablet or mobile phone

Send and receive faxes from other fax machines

Send and receive faxes from multiple devices

Large filing cabinets required to keep important documents coming from the fax machine

Digital storage of documents and ability to purchase cloud storage when needed

No access controls and so confidential information could be handled by anyone who had contact with the fax machine

Confidential documents are sent to an email address, meaning you receive faxes directly

Legal documentation still needs original copies for signing and legal stamps

Legal documentation received on devices with electronic signatures and stamps

Benefits of Online Fax Services over Fax Machines

This highlights the benefits between newer online fax services over the traditional fax machine.  

- Superior Document Access

When you receive faxes via the traditional method, you rarely have the option of storing multiple faxes in the traditional fax machine. Newer models have the function of keeping a small amount of documents in the memory which then have to be reprinted if a copy is required. Faxauthority.com [2] has more information on this function.

Internet fax services that charge a  small subscription fee will allow the business to purchase online storage to which the documents can be sent and accessed anytime.

Source: Pexels

- Increased data security

Believe it or not, the faxing of documents began in the 1800's and became popular in the 1970's. At the time data privacy issues were not of the concern they are today. Fax machines are simple to hack and are prone to a variety of other problems. This danger can pose significant difficulties for businesses.

Online fax offers several additional security options that will protect your documents from cyber hacks and other security breaches.

In general an online fax is considered safer because of the encryption used to transfer data and additional safeguards like password protection.  In fact, the latest fax technology offers protection that is more secure than email. 

- Flexibility at work

Flexible employment is a key component of modern offices. An online fax service gives flexibility that a physical fax machine cannot. You can send fax emails anytime on the Internet and this allows productivity to continue outside of an office building.

Common Questions about Digital Faxing

- How is Online Faxing different from Email?

Emails are sent from an email program such as MS Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail using the program on your computer to write and attach documents. Online faxing requires you to have a document that is sent via a fax messaging system and is stored in the supplier’s cloud storage. 

The main benefit of online faxing is the encryption protocol that makes the fax a secure way of sending sensitive and confidential information. The recipient’s email or fax number can be used to fax documents. 

Source: Pexels

- Can I send a regular fax to an eFax number?

An eFax allows for receiving faxes from anyone, regardless of the person who does not have a fax service. Faxes sent to your e-mail address can either be sent as a PDF or as a fax. 

- Can you send a virtual fax from Gmail?

Virtual fax services have the capability of integrating the fax into the existing platform. Thanks to the new technologies it's possible to transmit faxes directly via a Gmail account. You can also request emails from online services by providing this address. 

- Is it possible to send Digital Faxes Online without any Software?

Virtual faxing has one benefit of not needing specific hardware or software. A connection to the internet and signing into the fax service provider account is all that is needed to send and receive faxes.

- How can you send an Electronic Fax from an iPhone?

By using the free fax app, you will be able to send your fax from any location on your iPhone.

- Can you send Digital Faxes from your Computer?

The simplest way for sending an electronic fax is using a fax program for Mac or Windows.

- Is there a platform that can keep all my digital communication in one place?

Yes!  Trythatch.com allows you to create a digital mailbox for all your communication needs and also provides you with access to documents when you are offline.  Try their cutting edge solutions for yourself - you won’t regret it.

The Future of Digital Faxing

As technology evolves to keep up with the growing demand, digital faxing is expected to stick around and become more advanced. And more businesses will switch over from conventional fax methods to online faxing.

Google notes that corporations are still sending billions of faxes each year for various reasons and so this trend is set to continue into the future. The biggest draw card to faxes is the convenience and the safety aspects of it.  The fax machine might become obsolete, but the fax is clinging to life and will continue to do so. 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_fax

[2] Faxauthority.com 

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