Faxing is one of the oldest technologies used to transmit content such as text or images. It basically exists since before telephony.
The first fax machine was invented more than 170 years ago, by a Scottish inventor, Alexander Bain. His electric printing telegraph was a very primitive machine, but that was just the beginning of faxing. His idea continued to be constantly improved, so that at the beginning of the 20th century, faxing became very popular and widely used all across the Globe.
Analog vs. digital fax machines
Fax transmission can be either analog or digital, based on the technology it uses.
Analog faxing, which is the oldest one, works by converting the message that needs to be faxed into electronic pulses. Those pulses are transmitted though the wires to the recipient, using traditional phone lines. Once they reach they destination, they are converted back to their original form. All first fax machines were analog, at least until the 1960s, when digital technology gradually started to replace them.
Digital faxing works by converting the message that needs to be sent into binary code (those 0 and 1 you keep hearing about when it comes to binary). Of course, in order for this to work, you need the appropriate machine that can read and reassemble digitized messages. Digital faxing is considerably faster than analog faxing. All fax machines today can be called digital, because they digitize and compress the message that needs to be faxed.
Digital faxing today
When you hear about ‘digital faxing’ today, people don’t have in mind the scientific definition of digital faxing transmission. Digital faxing is now mostly seen as a synonym for internet faxing, also known as e-faxing, online faxing or virtual faxing.
Digital faxing is basically seen as the technology of sending faxes via internet protocols, instead of the PSTN (public switched telephone network).
Faxing is still necessary for business purposes, for legal documents that require a signature and so on. However, it has gone through major changes since its invention. While there are still people who prefer to use traditional faxing, mostly for security reasons or out of commodity, internet faxing keeps growing in popularity.
How do you send a fax through the internet?
Digital faxing is more user-friendly, affordable and time-efficient than traditional faxing. The process of sending a fax online is really simple.
First you need to sign up for an online faxing service. When you do so, you will receive a unique fax number that’s going to be used whenever you send or receive a fax over the internet.
When you want to send a fax online, you simply go to your e-mail account and create a new mail and complete all the fields. You need to input the fax number of the recipient, which has a format that looks like: email@example.com. You then attach the content you want faxed. Depending on the provider, online faxing services support most of the common file formats, from PDF to MS Word, TXT, RTF, JPEG, PNG and others. You can also add a subject and message in the body field, although these are optional. The last step is to actually send the e-mail and that’s it.
For each fax you send via the internet through your online faxing service, you get a transmission report or confirmation e-mail. This way you’ll rest assured that your fax has reach its destination. In case something goes wrong, you’ll also receive an e-mail in the type of a ‘failure report’. In case that happens, you have to contact your provider and take it from there.
Why should you switch to internet faxing?
There are several advantages to using online faxing instead of the conventional one:
- Online faxing is more affordable than conventional faxing. There are several areas in which you can save a lot of money when you switch to internet faxing. The first one is the fact that you no longer need to invest in a fax machine, all you need to send a virtual fax is an internet connection and an e-mail address (which you most likely have already). Then there’s the cost of paper and the constant supplies of paper, ink toners and so on. Add your phone line cost to all that and you’ve got yourself quite a bill. Not to mention the occasional maintenance of your fax machine. We all know they often break and you have to call in a specialist to deal with them
- Online faxing is faster and easier to use. Fax machines are slow, moody and not the most convenient ones to use. With internet faxing is like simply sending an e-mail, which only requires a few clicks
- Internet faxing helps you get rid of all that storage space required for your fax machines and your countless shelves of files
- Online faxing is greener than traditional faxing, because it doesn’t need infinite supplies of paper. It is a paperless technology, which means you get to save a lot of trees from being cut
- Internet faxing is very versatile. You can send a fax over the internet from anywhere in the world where there’s an internet connection. Another advantage is that a lot of online faxing services offer mobile apps, too, so you can send faxes from your smartphone or tablet. You can also use you online fax service to send faxes to someone that still uses a fax machine
- Despite of all the misconceptions, internet faxing is in fact secure. There are some skeptics out there who still prefer to rely on traditional faxing, because they are scared of potential data breaches and hackers. However, things are not as gloomy as they might seem. Internet fax services are safe because they use secure connections, strong encryption methods and password protection. In addition to these, you also receive confirmation emails each time you send a fax to someone, so you’ll know the fax has reached its recipient
- Internet fax services are scalable, so you can adjust your subscription plan according to your needs. You can initially sign up for the cheapest available plan and upgrade as your business grows. Most online fax services have packages for all types of customers and business sizes