Why is Faxing Still a Thing?

Anatomy of a happy productive office.
Infographic by Faxburner.com.

According to Wired, the number of people learning to use fax machines is still rising. The fax’s real rival is the ubiquitous PDF, which requires fancier hardware. Even though most people also now have email, it doesn’t look like the fax is dying any time soon. In fact, companies like Fax Burner, a popular online faxing service, are actively promoting the service, despite ever-advancing technology that seems to make faxing obsolete.

Here are some of the common reasons it’s still around.

Other People Still Use It

Faxing has a huge user base. For one thing, nearly every company still publishes a fax number that customers respond to. Some government and financial agencies require a fax when a legal signature is involved. As long as it remains prevalent, the fax isn’t likely to go away any time soon.

In Many Cases, Faxing is Quicker than Other Technology

Here’s what it takes to send a fax. Drop a document on a feeder, press a ten-digit number and the start button. Away goes the information to the recipient.

With a PDF, the document has to be scanned, which can be a cumbersome process, especially if the original must be printed first. Then, the sender has to email the scanned document to the recipient. This typically takes much longer than sending a fax.

Send Signed Documents without Network Exposure

Faxes are automatically printed, so legal documents can be signed, initialed and faxed back to the sender. Faxes send data over phone lines, in most cases, so there’s no electronic image of the signature stored away.

Confirmation of Receipt with Number of Pages

This is likely the biggest reason faxing is still around. After a fax is sent, the sender can select to get back a confirmation page. The confirmation verifies that the other fax machine received the complete message and gives a total faxed page count as additional validation.

This creates a record that the fax was transmitted, the same way a signature on registered mail proves it got to the right address. The benefit of a confirmation page is that it makes it very difficult for someone to say they didn’t get the message.

As long as people have a preference for faxes, it’s not likely this technology will disappear. There are some handy online fax services that make it easy to brush up on fax use should someone need it for their business or personal life.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.