Fax machines, which transmit documents using a telephone connection, were once on the cutting edge of telecommunications technology. However, the rise of e-mail around the world has largely made fax machines obsolete in many industries. However, despite their disadvantages, there are still certain reasons that fax machines continue to see use today.
One of the key advantages of fax machines is that they provide an instant hard copy of a document. This removes the chance that an e-mail attachment can be deleted or an online correspondence erased in the case of a hard drive failure or computer crash. For businesses that keep paper copies of official correspondence, fax machines speed up the process by removing the need to receive an e-mail and then print it later for filing. Instead, everything happens at once.
Fax machines are also important to companies that do business internationally. This is because of legal provisions in some countries that define faxed signatures as officially binding, while e-mailed signatures are not. While this is not the case in the United States, companies that may need to show proof of a contract or any kind of authorisation may need faxed copies on file rather than printed e-mails.
Another advantage to using a fax machine is the list of other functions certain fax machines also perform. Besides sending and receiving faxes, many professional-grade fax machines also print documents, make copies and even scan images. A business or individual may keep an existing fax machine for its secondary functions even if it is never used to actually send faxes.
Fax machines take up space and also create an opportunity for mechanical failures that may require costly repairs. E-mailing documents takes no additional hardware besides an existing computer, and files can be stored digitally rather than taking up space in paper form.
Waste and Cost
Fax machines need regular maintenance. This includes stocking the machines with paper and also supplying toner, which is the powdered ink fax machines use to print. There is also the possibility that once a document has been faxed and the information is read or entered into a computer, the paper will be thrown away or recycled, putting unnecessary strain on the waste disposal system. Finally, like every machine, fax machines require occasional cleaning.