What Are Some Advantages and Disadvantages of Fax Machines?

Fax machines offer advantages such as ease of use, inexpensive communication and hard-copy records as well as disadvantages that include lack of immediate response, potential security issues and document quality issues. Depending on the purpose for their use, fax machines can prove to be a valuable asset or a costly liability to an individual or a company.

Although standalone fax machines do not hold the same place as the communication staple of many offices that they did when they first became popular, there are still areas in which they hold advantage over email and other forms of electronic communication.

Hard-copy proof: fax machines provide the user with a printable receipt that the document was sent to a specific location. Such proof enables the sender to verify to what number the document was sent along with the number of pages the communication included.

Single-step sharing of handwritten documents: unlike creating a PDF, which requires scanning and saving to share a handwritten document through email, a fax machine allows the user to send a copy of the original document with one step

Low-cost communication: beyond the cost of the machine itself, faxing requires only the access to a telephone line, electricity, and appropriate paper stock

Fax machines do have disadvantages as well and have in many cases been outmoded by electronic communication.

Security problems: In addition to human error such as dialing in an incorrect number, which may result in a sensitive document arriving at the wrong location, fax machines often sit in the open; even when the document is sent to the correct number, it may be read by any person who picks it up.

Technology issues: Many users connect their small fax machines to the same telephone line on which they make and receive calls, and as such, document sending or receiving may be delayed if the phone is in use

Poor document quality: While fax machines are a fast way to communicate, document quality is often not the same as the original