Traditional Fax Machine vs. Online Fax Service

As a startup, you’re often strapped for cash; so one of the first things you should do when deciding which products and services to use is perform a cost analysis of substitutes. You absolutely need a business fax number, which means you’ll want to compare the costs of an online fax service versus a traditional fax machine. For our own business, we use an online fax service because it makes sense in terms of cost savings and convenience. Without knowing anything about your business I would recommend getting an online fax service, but you should do what makes sense for your particular business needs.

Initial Costs (Updated: 4/25/2013)

Equipment Costs

  • Online Fax Service: $0
  • Traditional Fax Machine: Up to $4000 for a professional fax machine

The initial costs of a traditional fax machine are much more than that of an online fax service. With a traditional fax machine, you pay for the equipment (i.e. fax machine) up front. With an online fax service, you don’t need to purchase any equipment or install new hardware other than your computer, meaning you’ll spend a lot less from the start.

Ongoing Costs (Updated: 4/25/2012)

Monthly Faxing Costs

  • Online Fax Service: $10-$25
  • Traditional Fax Machine: $40

There are ongoing costs with both an online fax service and a traditional fax machine. On one hand, online fax services charge you a monthly cost relative to a monthly number of allotted pages you can fax. The monthly price for an online fax service varies on a provider basis but is typically around $10-$25 per month and includes anywhere from 300-700 fax pages. On the other hand, a traditional fax machine will run you about $40 per month because a fax machine requires you to purchase a dedicated phone line for your fax number. This cost alone makes the ongoing costs for a traditional fax machine greater than that of an online fax service. Furthermore, traditional faxes cost around 10 cents each. Whilst not sounding like much, a typical company can spend thousands of dollars a year sending faxes. Ongoing Maintenance Costs

  • Online Fax Service: $0
  • Traditional Fax Machine: $50+

An on-site maintenance check for a traditional fax machine costs around $50 with extra for parts and labor. Online Fax requires no such costly maintenance.

Online Fax Services are Greener Than Fax Machines (Updated: 4/25/2012)

The Environmenfax, faxing, paper, waste, global warming, climate changetal Protection Agency and the Energy Department considers fax machines to be one of the most “energy intensive” types of business equipment as they are permanently switched on waiting for arriving faxes. On average, this equates 321 kilowatt hours of electricity used per machine, per year.

  • Traditional Fax uses on average, 5,000 sheets of paper annually. Nationally, this amounts to 200 billion pages used per year.
  • Harmful chemicals such as chlorine, sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide are used as whitening agents to make fax paper. Fax machines also emit gases that harm the environment such as carbon dioxide, ozone and styrene.

Online Fax Services are More Efficient Than Fax Machines (Updated: 4/25/2012)

  • Online fax services are capable of sending multiple faxes at once.
  • Faxes can be sent from any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. This allows for faxing on the go.
  • No more wasteful printing of junk faxes.


Online Fax Services are More Secure Than Fax Machines (Updated: 4/25/2012)

  • Online faxes are sent directly to the recipient’s email inbox. When a fax is printed by a fax machine, it sits in the tray. This means it can be easily lost, misplaced or read by someone other than the recipient.
  • Online faxes are sent and received using encrypted transmissions.
  • Phone lines are not encrypted and can be exploited by hackers.

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Advantages of Fax Machines and Online Fax Services (Updated: 4/25/2012)

As you can see above, the costs of an online fax service are much lower than those of a traditional fax machine. The main advantages of a traditional fax machine are that, unlike an online fax service, a fax machine doesn’t require an Internet connection to send and receive faxes, and your fax number won’t change if you decide to switch service providers. However, you can use an online fax service and make sure your fax number won’t change by transferring (i.e. “porting”) your number into the online fax service you want to use. Read our STARTicle that gives you detailed instructions on how to port your existing fax number to an online fax service. I’m a firm believer that an online fax service is the best option for most businesses. We use online fax ourselves and will continue to use it. Here is an overview of online faxing, with more details and benefits on this new business technology. For information on how to set up your fax number with an online fax service, read our guide, How To: Set Up a Fax Number.

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