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Who Sends Faxes Nowadays?

As it turns out, many offices still rely on faxes

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Faxing may seem antiquated technology; however, it’s still relevant and even vital to some industries. And in several important ways, facsimile technology has advanced.

Jay Naughton, owner of Naughton & Associates in Syracuse, can’t remember the last time he sold a stand-alone fax machine.

“Maybe 15 years ago we sold them,” he said, after a few moments’ musing. “Electronic fax is where people are moving.”

Naughton & Associates provides IT and communication support for small to mid-sized companies.

Many businesses either use fax servers that send and receive faxes as electronic documents or cloud-based fax services. These transmit faxes as JPeg or PDF files attached to emails.

5 Star Business Machines in Syracuse services, sells and rents office equipment. Mike Pidgeon, manager, said that businesses that want a physical fax machine usually purchase multi-function machines that scan, copy and fax. While the fax may seem outmoded by email and texting, some businesses rely on fax.

“The fax is important for people with sensitive information,” Pidgeon said. “ It’s harder to hack into a fax. They receive them in a different way.”

If a fax is hacked, only the individual transmission is compromised, which can reduce the fallout.

Old technology — a stand alone fax machine — still has many users

Industries such as financial institutions, government organizations, law enforcement and insurance companies are among those that commonly use fax, mainly for regulatory reasons.

Some types of businesses that use handwritten forms just stick with what works: fax. Especially if they already own a fax machine and are accustomed to communicating this way, they have little reason to change.

It would seem that medical use of fax would decline because of electronic transmittal of medical records; however, the incompatibility of the different types of software used between various health systems makes fax the easier and more secure choice.

Companies that do business internationally also continue to use fax widely, as it’s still quite popular in certain countries.

For businesses that require signed documents, faxing to clients can be more expedient than emailing a document as an attachment that has to be downloaded, printed, signed, scanned and emailed back. Cloud faxing can allow users to add signatures through touch screens or e-signature technology; however, not every organization has access to this capability.

The stigma attached to faxing caused Terry Essel to change the name of his North Syracuse-based business a year ago. He had founded it as Superior Fax Repair Company in February 1994 but changed it to The Toner Kings.

“I wanted to get the name ‘fax’ out of the name,” Essel said.

His firm still services fax machines, among other types of office equipment, but the word “fax” congers 1980s technology: not the kind of up-to-date reference a technology-based company wants to imply.

Although most of the 200-plus businesses his company serves in the area still use fax as one of their communication alternatives — albeit, likely not as much as electronic communication — the “stand-alone fax machines with no print, scan or email features are pretty much gone,” Essel said. “Maybe 10% of our customers currently use stand-alone fax machines.”

He doesn’t think that a true paperless business will happen anytime soon because computers, back-ups, servers and hard drives still fail or can be hacked. But to reflect the trend in that direction, he opted to drop “fax” from the company name.

“I’d estimate that faxing is split between phone lines and email faxing,” he said.