Why You Should Switch To Cloud Faxing From Manual Fax

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Cloud faxing solutions eliminate your dependence on paper-based manual faxing method, which is not only inefficient but also exposes your business to security and compliance risks, or an in-house fax server system, which requires internal IT resources for continued system maintenance and managing telecommunication lines.

Yet it’s not only the glistening potential to communicate in a contemporary manner that explains the appeal of corporate cloud faxing. Using cloud faxing services brings quantifiable benefits to organizations — and in most cases, costs less while actually increasing fax functionality and service flexibility.

Make an informed decision on your organization’s preferred faxing method by reviewing the pros and cons of outdated faxing methods, which relies on physical fax machines and/or on-premise fax servers vs. state-of-the-art cloud-based faxing.

Pros and Cons of Traditional, On-Premise Fax Machines and Fax Servers

On-premise fax machines use phone lines to send analog-based signals of files to its recipient. And while the inspiration for this model dates back to the mid-1800s, its modern interpretation in today’s physical fax machines isn’t without a few advantages. On-premise fax server has been widely used by most business organizations to increase office productivity and save costs, while reducing their dependence on manual fax machines and paper-based process.

Major pros and cons of using a manual fax machine or an on-premise fax server are:

1. Pro: A Physical Fax Line is More Sheltered From Cyberattacks

Fax machines sit rather low on the list of enterprise security threat vectors. 

Hackers attempting to overtake a physical fax line must attack the signal code at its point of transmission. This means they must somehow know the exact time a fax is being sent, down to its millisecond. Malicious attackers must also somehow gain access and override all three of the machine’s data, session and image/page layers to make signal changes and therefore alter files.

In total, the attack surface of a traditional fax machine is relatively narrow, especially when compared to lateral security threats introduced by the growing internet of things (IoT).

2. Pro: Considered Business Critical (and the Compliant Standard) in Other Countries

Corporate culture in countries like Japan and Israel, alongside many other Middle Eastern nations, continue to prioritize physical fax-based communications. Companies that conduct regular business or have clients in these countries may consider it a best practice to align their own faxing practices with their associates’.

This is particularly true for companies in fields reliant on large batches of paper transactions, such as healthcare, finance or law. Many official documents in these industries must still be received and submitted in a physical form to remain legally binding. Organizations wishing to “cover their backs” might simply prefer the subsequent liability security and peace of mind that comes with a paper trail.

3. Pro: Many Fax Machines Today Are “All-In-One”

In an attempt to evolve with the times, many contemporary fax machines contain other business-critical machine technologies. These “all-in-one” systems include everything from printers to state-of-the-art copiers. Businesses with these multifunctional machines may not see the rationale in parting with their convenient tech systems — or may have only recently installed the technology altogether.

4. Con: Initial Capital Expenses

Any technology that’s decades old will naturally court some shortcomings. On-premise fax server systems come with a high initial cost to purchase and install. The costs continue to rise when you also factor in ongoing software maintenance, as well as upgrades to the hardware.

As to manual fax machines, even the fax’s ink and paper are more expensive than their conventional counterparts. Most on-premise fax equipment uses low-thermal printing that burns images into special thermal paper. This thermal paper comes in rolls, not your standard sheet packets, and can be anywhere from 2 to 2.5 cents more per page.

5. Con: Monthly Telephone Charges

Traditional on-premise fax machines and fax servers require hookup to phone lines. The phone lines come with regular monthly charges as well as extra charges for long-distance calls when faxes are sent to a long-distance number.

Current estimates for fax lines — which are typically extensions of analog phone lines — cost at a minimum $35 per line — and that’s for residential installation. Businesses can expect far higher monthly line billings for installing and operating their fax machines’ extra phone lines.

6. Con: IT Resources

With on-premise server systems, be prepared to provide increased IT staff and other resources to manage and maintain the fax server system, network and telephone lines.

7. Con: Limited Capacity

An on-premise fax server system with phone lines can only handle so much. These systems cannot handle a larger volume of faxes without incurring extra delays to send a fax or busy signal on their incoming fax line. And to scale the system larger, at a minimum, the business must either purchase additional fax server components with their own phone numbers or phone lines or add a phone number to existing lines through DRPD.

These upfront costs quickly translate into increased overhead expenditures, plus higher monthly telephone and electric bills. What’s more, they don’t provide a truly robust, scalable telecommunications solution, since each line can still only handle a single — not simultaneous — file transmissions.

8. Con: Lack of System Redundancy

There are several types of redundancy for fax server systems, but they are generally not available in an on-premise system. Redundancy can provide backup support to keep a business running. However, with a traditional fax server setup, a malfunctioning machine or phone line can cause delays and disruptions to the business.

Benefits of a Cloud Faxing

Migrating from analog-line reliance to cloud-based faxing introduces organizations to a few key advantages.

1. Eliminates Capital Expenditures

Cloud faxing reduces the expenses previously allocated to buying, maintaining and servicing operational on-premise fax equipment.

Upfront capital expenditures are only one piece of the equation. Cloud-based faxing eliminates paper, ink and toner costs for manual fax machines and on-going IT support and system maintenance costs for on-premise fax servers, as well as allows your business to cut ties with expensive and often fee-laden monthly telephone contracts supporting legacy fax lines.

With cloud faxing, you streamline the net capital expenses of your entire faxing infrastructure. Migrating from on-premise to cloud-based faxing can dramatically reduce the total cost of ownership.

2. Introduces Scalability

Adding virtual fax phone numbers to your business takes minutes and costs a fraction of the amount of acquiring new analog lines and numbers. As your company grows, new team members can easily acquire their own faxing line, then access it quickly and conveniently from the fax server software installed on their computers, laptops and smartphones.

3. Implements Modern, Robust Communications Security

Compromising a traditional fax machine is difficult enough, given the need for point-of-transmission entrance. However, attacking a cloud-based fax solution is even more challenging.

Cloud-based fax MSPs layer all transmissions with data encryption as well as additional cybersecurity features tailored to the platform. It is unlikely most hackers will be fluent in these fax-cloud cybersecurity systems, given their distinct nature.

4. Gets Rid of the Busy Fax Tone

The dreaded busy tone of a repeatedly in-use fax line is enough to make anyone’s head pound. While most fax machines will automatically redial the number upon receiving a busy signal, employees are still left in file-sharing limbo, waiting until the recipient’s line frees. This reduces productivity and causes document-sharing chokepoints in collaborative workflows, ones without immediate remedy.

5. Complements Compliance Efforts

Contrary to certain pervasive cloud myths, cloud-based faxing is in full compliance with the regulatory standards set for many industries. This includes highly monitored fields like healthcare, financial services, insurance, higher education, government agencies and contractors relying on secure document delivery.

6. Enhances Reliability

Cloud-based faxing eliminates many of the pain points associated with maintaining a legacy fax machine, including:

  • Machine paper jams
  • Machine failure and subsequent repair downtimes
  • In-house fax server crashes
  • Power outages
  • Telecom provider analog line failures

These issues bring faxing to a halt. Cloud-based servers’ expedite the process speeds to send and receive a fax, and they simplify the process of doing so. Cloud software comes fully integrated into the everyday technologies employees already use, meaning everyone can transmit documents in a few clicks without ever leaving their desks.

7. Implements Disaster Recovery

Cloud-based faxing servers store all relayed files in a secure document management system. That system contains access controls yet still permits relevant individuals to enter and review document paper trails, re-access information and conduct file audits.

These fax-inclusive document management systems are particularly vital during disaster recovery incidents, where everything from cyberattacks to natural disasters to human error may have damaged on-premise servers or permanently wiped their stored data.

8. Reduces IT Headaches

Exporting fax operations to the cloud relieves your internal IT staff from overseeing your fax system’s server, network and telephony connections. They’ll also no longer bear the brunt of frustrating equipment troubleshooting, which pulls your skilled IT personnel off higher-value activities.

9. Modernizes Your Office

Many software-based faxing programs allow users to e-sign documents to meet compliant “genuine signature” standards. They also integrate with camera and scanner technology, permitting digital versions of documents to be uploaded instantly into the system, whether sent or received. Finally, cloud-based faxing also allows for remote file sharing and in some cases even remote document-management system access.

Key Differences Between Cloud-Based and On-Premise Faxing

Detailed pros and cons aside, there are three fundamental differences between cloud-based faxing vs. on-premise method:

1. Input Expenses

Many fax machine cost calculations don’t account for system “externalities,” the input expenses involved in the physical faxing process that contribute to that process’ total price but are often forgotten. Faxing externalities include variables like:

  • Ink cartridge expenses
  • Fax machine paper expenses
  • Shipment and delivery fees
  • Machine maintenance costs
  • Time walking to and from the fax machine
  • Time waiting for an open fax machine
  • Time waiting for a phone line to open up
  • On-premise fax server glitches and downtimes

In total, the average business saves $720 per year, per fax phone line by switching to the cloud — plus eliminates the 2 to 2.5 cent cost per page previously spent on thermal laser paper.

2. Document Security

The average cloud-based fax server employs a 256-bit encryption method to secure transmitted files. That’s the same encryption industry gold standard mandated for government agencies, now at your disposal to protect your files, documents and data. With traditional faxes, these digital materials are only as secure as your current internal network and server defenses managed by your own IT team.

3. Infrastructure Speed and Scale

Cloud faxing software is instantly accessible, leading to quicker document deployments and increased file sharing outputs. Yet, more importantly, outsourcing faxing functions to an external cloud means your organization no longer must purchase new servers to scale — which, in turn, eliminates buying more load balancers, external database, SQL servers, gateways, expanding network security measures and more.

Which Fax Platform Should You Use?

So which faxing ecosystem is ultimately right for your organization?

Review the scenarios below to consider if cloud-based or on-premise aligns most with your business environment, bearing in mind the pros and cons detailed above.

Stick with traditional faxing when:
  • You’re a small business. One with 50 or fewer total employees.
  • You’re a light usage faxing customer. Your business sends and receives fewer than a hundred or so faxes a year.
  • You still prefer hard paper trails for legal matters. Binding business documents, such as contracts, sales agreements and deeds, must contain genuine signatures to be legally recognized. While cloud-faxing today allows for e-signatures and provides document management history logs, some individuals may not want to deviate from legal convention. 
Opt for a cloud-based fax solution if:
  • You’re a mid-to-large fax user (or growing to be one). One averaging 1,000 or more faxes a year, with trends showing businesses are actually increasing the number of faxes they send and receive, due primarily to the ease and convenience of cloud faxing.
  • You want to be environmentally conscious. Conservative stats show switching just 5% of physical faxing to cloud faxing saves an estimated 1 million trees, 360 million gallons of water, 3 million pounds of air pollutants and 215 million kilowatt hours in energy — enough to power New York City for a month.
  • You experience too much faxing congestion. It’s a business best practice to prorate one fax machine per 10 to 25 employees. Still, slow lines, slow machines, machine malfunctions or high fax flows can render even this ratio ill-functioning.
  • You have compliance concerns or are in a highly regulated industry. This includes fields like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, government agencies and law firms. HIPAA, for example, condones faxing as the safest proprietary way to send and receive protected health information (PHI). Plus, it should be noted the majority of cloud-based fax services provide 256-bit encryption, date and time stamps on all document transmissions, therefore ensuring legal authenticity and additional security protecting against document discrepancies.
  • You need to cut costs. The total labor cost to send and receive a single-page fax is $1.55 — and that’s just labor costs, not accounting for paper, ink, toner, electricity and machine maintenance expenditures. Corporate cloud faxing solutions has been shown to cut a fax’s total cost of ownership by more than half and accounts for both its labor and system overhead.

Know Your Options for Cloud-Based Faxing

Join the growing movement of companies shifting toward a cloud-based faxing — saving time, money and sanity along the way.

Softlinx provides secure cloud fax services with 24/7 service monitoring and customer support. Contact us today to get a no-obligation quote or schedule a free, custom product demo with cloud faxing today.

About Hikyu Lee

In 1993, Hikyu Lee established Softlinx, a prominent provider of Internet fax messaging and electronic documentary delivery systems, catering to medium and large-sized businesses. Before initiating Softlinx, Dr. Lee held the roles of president and CEO at Samsung Software America, Inc., an affiliate of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. His earlier career includes significant management and leadership roles at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Bellcore. Dr. Lee's academic credentials include a Master's and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Princeton University, along with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Seoul National University.

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