Does anyone still use a fax machine? Yes, they do!

Twenty years ago one of the most impressive pieces of technology that was used was the fax machine. You could scan a document and send it to any other fax machine anywhere in the world potentially. It was of great help with documents as they could arrive in mere minutes rather than the days it would take the Postal Service to get it there. It seems that the fax machine is another piece of technology that is destined to be displayed in a museum rather than functioning in a home office, but is it?

Is the fax machine a dying technology?

In more modern times the fax machine has been rendered seemingly obsolete by email, by PDF documents and by cloud-based services. It is much easier today to use those services to send and receive documents but yet the fax machine is still around us and could pose problems for any modern business that has one since a vulnerability was able to be exploited recently that allowed an attacker to gain entry into a business’s network. Don’t be alarmed, creating the exploit took a great deal of time and skill on the research team’s part and has since been patched but the potential is there.

The fax machine is actually gaining in usage

It may seem hard to believe but faxing is actually increasing according to a study from the International Data Corporation (IDC). It is still considered to be the most reliable and trusted method of sending sensitive information and it is accessible to nearly everyone. Faxing is easy to do easy to learn and is done in some form in 89% of small or medium-sized businesses. A fax machine is still a supported piece of technology by 62% of IT pros. It can be found in many home offices since it is incorporated into all-in-one printers which means fax machines can be found all over the country in both home and office setting.

Besides the ease of use and accessibility there are other reasons as well. The government still prefers to use faxed documents. The healthcare industry in the US does not consider email to be secure as far as HIPAA standards go while faxing is. In the UK the National Health Service still use over 9,000 fax machines and Canadian health care providers are forced to due to government regulation. Faxing also creates a paper trail which is preferred in the legal profession and the criminal justice system. Security is much easier with a fax machine, it is not particularly vulnerable to viruses and easily meets any government regulation. It also helps that it is cheap.

Why newer technology has not yet replaced it

But as previous generations get older and newer generations take over those reasons will change. Very few under the age of 30 have probably ever sent a fax. New technologies like cloud-based services have made the fax machine redundant and few businesses want to pay for someone to stand around at the fax machine waiting for the fax to come. Of course there is also the toner and paper costs as well, those are not cheap. New methods like eFax uses cloud technology to send faxes from a computer to a fax machine even if the sender doesn’t have a fax machine so at least a hybrid of this technology could conceivably survive.

Cloud-based services will probably replace the fax machine at one point in the not too distant future. That will also mean that government regulation will be introduced to those platforms since they will need to become more secure and use better encryption. Right now we would probably balk at having our medical records or for some criminal records sent via email given how vulnerable that is to attack. Until that can be sorted out to the government’s satisfaction the fax machine is here to stay. It may be one of the last pieces of 1980s technology to disappear.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top