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It’s 2013 and Fax Machines are Still Going Strong

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In today’s digital office, it seems odd that fax machines still have a home; yet there they sit, collecting dust and still churning out the occasional fax. One would assume that e-mail would have dethroned the fax machine a long time ago, and while e-mail is popular, fax machines still hold a place in the modern office.

The numbers behind fax machine usage stand as a testimony to the staying power of the almighty fax. In the world today, it is estimated that there are about 131 million fax machines in operation. To put this figure into perspective, if the fax machines of the world became self-aware, united, and started their own country; then population wise, Faxivania would be the world’s 10th largest country between Russia and Japan.

Sales of fax machines continue to be strong. Walk into any office supply store and fax machines still have display space showing off the newest models with updated features. In fact, six million fax machines are still sold every year. To put this number into perspective, it has taken over 30 years for Subaru to sell 6 million cars in America. Six million fax machines sold every year only further expands the borders of Faxivania.

The advent of e-mail in the 1990’s was supposed to be the death blow to the fax machine and usher in a paperless utopia. We could not have been more wrong. In fact, since the introduction of e-mail, paper consumption for offices has increased by 40%, due in no small part to fax machines continuing to crank out paper. Yet, e-mail has caught on with the public and is contributing to less paper consumption overall. This trend can be seen with the decline of mail volume with the United States Postal Service, down from 213 billion in 2006, to 168 billion in 2011.

Comparing the paper usage statistics between the public and offices only begs the question, “Why are businesses so hesitant to totally replace their fax machines with e-mail?” One reason is due to security concerns. A paper fax is a sure way to send a communication with zero risk of spreading a computer virus or perpetrating a phishing scam that gleans sensitive company information. This security issue is critical to businesses because their data is invaluable. A compromise from an e-mail threat is a risk, albeit a small one, and most businesses simply refuse to expose their data to even the smallest of risks.

Another issue with e-mail is using it in a way that complies with communication regulations set by government laws like HIPAA. Under HIPAA regulations, communicating through traditional faxes is an acceptable way to communicate; e-mails can be used, but several security standards and levels of encryption must be satisfied. Companies may find it easier to continue to use their old fax machines, rather than taking the extra measures that are required in order to setup a secure system that sends e-mails to the satisfaction of HIPAA. Even though HIPAA applies only to the healthcare industry, the crackdown of the government on e-mail security in one field is enough to spook other fields into hanging on to their fax machines.

Sending faxes manually is secure, but it is also very inefficient and expensive. We have already discussed the issue of wasting paper, and there are additional issues like using expense ink toner and paying for an employee to retrieve and file away the fax. You then run into the issue of having to store away the fax in a file cabinet that is susceptible to fire, flood, or any other disaster.

The modern office has brought us a centralized fax server solution that seamlessly and securely merges faxes with your e-mail inbox in a way that will streamline office fax communication. This fax server solution converts incoming faxes to PDF files that are sent directly to your e-mail inbox. Having faxes saved as a digital format will allow you to store and retrieve your PDF fax documents right alongside all of your other digital files. You can also use this fax server solution to easily send professional looking faxes to other businesses that still use fax machines.

Having your faxes digitized will also allow you to backup your faxes with a backup and data recovery solution. A BDR solution from TMS will backup all of your faxes and files offsite in case there is ever a physical disaster that takes out your file cabinets or even your servers. A fax server solution is also secure enough to meet HIPAA’s security requirements, we would be happy to share more details about HIPAA compliance upon request. Call TMS at 1 (626) 737-2960, and let us show you how easy it is to benefit both your bottom line and the environment by replacing your dusty old fax machine with a centralized fax server solution.