Faxing is one of the oldest means of communication in the modern workplace.

But the arrival of the internet and email technology has decreased the popularity of faxing as a way of sending and receiving messages.

Nevertheless, fax machines are still in use in workplaces today.

Government agencies, healthcare institutions, and legal practices still prefer faxing documents to emailing them.

Some businesses are even opting for digital alternatives.

So let’s skip ahead to the big question: what is a fax machine and what does it do? If you’re curious about how faxing works, come along as we explore this topic in detail.

What is a fax machine?

A fax machine is an electronic device that sends and receives documents using telephone lines.

In the past, faxing was the fastest means of sending files when you didn’t have enough time for snail mail or hired courier.

The word “fax,” short for facsimile, comes from the Latin “fac simile,” which translates to “make similar.”

It incorporates a scanner, printer, and telephone line. Interestingly, fax machines are still noticeable in offices around the world today.

Have you ever wondered: what does a fax machine do anyway? Let’s break it down in the next section.

What does a fax machine do?

As we noted, a fax machine consists of a scanner, a printer, and a phone line working in unison.

When you insert the document into the device, the scanner interprets it as a digital signal to be transmitted over the phone.

A processor in the sending machine converts the signal into bits.

These bits will be sent to the receiving device through the phone line. Now, bits are pieces of data and information in a computer language.

In the same way, the processor in the recipient’s machine receives the bits and converts them into a copy of the original document.

Then, the receiving party can use the printer to print out the document.

Inside the printer, several components work together to replicate the original copy.

The drum pushes the received signals onto the paper while the ribbon carries the required ink.

Due to various technical issues — like clogged phone lines or bad reception — the document you are trying to send might take longer to go through.

Another reason might be if the paper gets jammed inside the printer.

Here is what to do if the fax machine states still faxing but does not seem to be:

The first solution is to wait it out — you don’t need to resend the document and clog up the queue. If the wait is unbearably long, you should ensure the phone lines are connected properly.

You could also confirm if the machine has sufficient ink or toner.

If nothing works, check the printer to ensure it isn’t jammed.

In the absence of these minor delays, fax machines are the best for sending sensitive or confidential documents.

If you want to get information across without compromising its safety, you should use a fax machine.

Benefits of using a fax machine

The use of fax devices may be declining over recent years, but its usefulness has remained the same.

As a business owner, there are still numerous advantages of using a fax machine for sending documents.

Effective communication

Faxing is an alternative means to regular mail or courier delivery. Paper documents that require a direct signature can easily be faxed and received in no time.

The recipient also receives an exact file copy without any alterations.

A fax machine is also the quickest way to send and receive files without depending on the slow-paced postal service.

Since the device relies on a phone line, you can send your documents even without internet access.

Multipurpose function

If you don’t need to photocopy files often, you can rely on the fax machine to send documents and create multiple copies.

Some machines also allow you to print documents. In this case, the device must be connected to your computer to print the files.

Better security

Although most business communications occur via email, this medium is not always secure.

Your important emails can be intercepted or thrown into the spam folder.

There’s also the possibility of no encryption protecting the data you send via email, meaning it could be subject to data breaches.

If your business deals with sensitive information, faxing is the way to go.

Telephone lines are much more difficult to hack than email servers. Even if your phone lines are intercepted, the signal would be unreadable.

Digital fax option

If you cannot afford a fax machine, you should consider investing in digital solutions because they allow you to send documents directly between computers.

Digital fax software converts the information into bits on the sending device.

It makes faxing even more efficient because you can save the file electronically on your computer or via cloud storage.

Who needs a fax machine?

Faxing makes sending documents efficient and more secure but does not seem to be in vogue anymore.

If you operate in industries that deal with client confidential data, faxing this information is your most secure option.

Law firms, healthcare institutions, and financial institutions all fall under this category.

Furthermore, businesses that handle invoices, shipping orders, quote requests, and other sensitive records should also get a fax machine.

This ensures that the information always remains in the right hands.

Ultimately, fax machines automate the signing of forms, contracts, and business documents.

You might also need a fax machine when sending your tax returns to the IRS.

If you’ve considered switching to a paperless office, a fax machine will usher in your company’s digital revolution by helping you get rid of paper.


The fax machine may not be commonplace in modern workplaces, but it hasn’t lost its usefulness.

These machines enhance business communications, ensure document security, and legitimize businesses.

Moreover, sending documents by fax is better than emailing them. Hackers can intercept email attachments, but phone lines cannot be compromised.

Overall, companies in law, healthcare, finance, and manufacturing should opt for fax machines instead of email. It’s a more secure method for sending and receiving sensitive documents.

Frequently asked questions

  • A drum is an essential component in the fax machine for producing printouts. It appears like an electrically charged cylinder, which transfers the toner to the paper to create text and images. Some fax machines contain up to four drums, one for each necessary color: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK-B).

  • A ribbon is a device within the fax machine used to transfer ink to paper. The ribbon acts as a conveyor belt within the printer. It also serves as a middleman between ink and paper during impact printing.

  • Any business that deals with sensitive files with fewer printing needs will require a fax machine. It’s safer, more efficient, and does not need the internet to operate. To embrace digital transformation, consider using online faxing solutions like PandaDoc Online Fax.


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