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How to Fax 1040 Tax Form to IRS: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Fax 1040 Tax Form to IRS: Step-by-Step Guide

It’s never too early to start preparing for tax season. Whether you file taxes on your own or rely on a tax professional to help, old-fashioned mailing can take a long time. While there are e-submission options nowadays, you might be looking for something more secure. 

You can’t send your 1040 directly to the Internal Revenue Service, but there are some tax forms you can securely send via online fax and a few other ways faxing can help streamline your tax process. 

Let’s explore the basics of IRS faxing, including how to fax your 1040 tax form. 


What Is IRS Tax Form 1040?

So what is a 1040 form used for? Taxpayers use Form 1040 to file their annual income tax returns. The form has two pages. One covers basic information, like name, address, and Social Security number. The other includes your signature, occupation, and the most important part: your financial information. Here is where you would fill out your adjusted gross income. 

Depending on your financial situation, you may need to complete different schedules of Form 1040. For example, Schedule C is for self-employed filers, and Schedule A is for those who need to itemize their deductions. If you’re not sure what form you need, it’s best to consult your local tax authorities.


Can I Fax My 1040 Tax Form to the IRS?

So can you send your 1040 form by fax? The short answer is no, and there is no designated IRS fax number for a 1040 form. The only way to submit your 1040 to the IRS is by mail or electronic submission. 

However, there are still a few ways you can use a fax during the tax filing process. The IRS allows you to file certain tax forms via fax, like: 

If you’ve already filed taxes and learned that you’re missing certain forms, you can also fax those tax forms to the IRS. In this case, an IRS representative may contact you to request more information. Ask if you can fax the paperwork and for the correct IRS fax number.

Even though you can’t fax all of your tax forms to the IRS, it doesn’t mean fax can’t play a role in your filing process. If you’re working with an accountant, faxing can be a secure way to send your tax documents to them for filing. 


Electronic Filing (E-filing) of Tax Return Explained

There are many tips to make filing your taxes easier, but the number one tool is e-filing. E-filing is straightforward, more convenient, and far safer than manually filing your taxes. 

That’s why the IRS encourages electronic filing for the millions of Americans nationwide who do taxes themselves. If you’re thinking about e-filing, here’s everything you need to know about the process. 

Advantages of E-filing

Compared to manually filling out and mailing your tax return, electronic filing has several advantages. 

  • Convenience: You can file your taxes from anywhere in the world, whether in the office or at home, making the whole process much faster. Online tax filing can take as little as an hour to complete, and submitting is as simple as clicking a button. 
  • Accuracy: E-filing is also far simpler for the average taxpayer. Most online tax services walk you through each required form step-by-step. This means you don’t need to do any deep research or have advanced tax preparation skills to do your taxes correctly.
  • Affordability: The IRS offers free e-filing options for taxpayers earning less than $72,000 per year in adjusted gross income. And even if your income falls above this threshold, it’s still cheaper to e-file than having a professional tax preparer handle your taxes manually. 
  • Speed: Online filing offers a much faster tax experience, meaning you’ll get your tax refund faster (if applicable). Mailing your return can take days, if not weeks, to get to the IRS. With an online service, it reaches the IRS in seconds — your taxes are processed faster, and you won’t constantly be checking your refund status.
  • Storage: Online tax filing systems can store your information for years, which comes in handy in case of an IRS audit. It also provides easy access to the previous year’s returns if you need your paperwork for something like a mortgage or other loan.

How To E-file Your Tax Return

There are two options for e-filing your tax return. The first is IRS Free File, a free program that lets you file your taxes online. While it doesn’t walk you through the process with as much assistance as a paid program, it still gives some guidance.

The second option is tax software. A few popular choices are TurboTax and H&R Block, but there are plenty of e-filing options out there. Most of these programs offer a free option for taxpayers who want to do simple tax returns without deductions. However, they may charge for more complex tax returns, like those of small businesses or freelancers. 

Once you’ve chosen your e-filing service, all you have to do is follow the instructions. Most programs will take you step by step through the process from beginning to end. 

eFax: The Ideal Faxing Partner for e-filing

While you can’t fax your 1040 tax form to the IRS, there are so many other ways fax can assist in the tax process. Whether sending follow-up tax forms to the IRS or tax paperwork to your accountant, faxing offers a reliable and safe way to deliver your most sensitive financial documents. eFax’s simple taxing solutions make it easy to send all your most important information, from tax forms to work documents, with just an email address and a computer or mobile device. No fax machine is needed. Learn more about our plans, or get started with us today.

Read more about how to Fax IRS Form 2553

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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How To Fax Multiple Pages At Once Effortlessly?

How To Fax Multiple Pages At Once Effortlessly?

The world may have moved on from bulky and outdated fax machines, but faxing remains one of the most reliable ways to send and receive documents. Thanks to secure online faxing services, it’s never been easier to transmit as many documents as you want from virtually anywhere — with nothing but an internet connection. 

Faxing multiple pages at once may take a few additional steps, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ll break it down so that you can quickly learn how to fax documents with multiple pages.


How To Prepare Multiple Pages for Fax Transmission?

It’s important to stay on top of digital communication etiquette, even when using an online faxing provider. Following faxing best practices will help preserve document quality and ensure smooth fax transmission of multiple pages.

Start by preparing your documents. Before sending your multi-page fax, you’ll need to double-check your documents for any marks that may make them hard to read and make sure everything is in the correct order.

1. Organize and Arrange Documents for Sequential Faxing

Just like you might arrange physical papers in order before feeding them into the fax machine, you also need to organize your digital files before sending them to the recipient.

When combining multiple pages or documents into one fax, you’ll need to review them to check that they’re in the right order. Most faxing companies will send faxes in the order they were uploaded.

2. Ensure Document Clarity and Legibility

If scanning a physical paper, ensure the original is clean, legible, and free of smudges or creases that might obscure the writing. Once documents are digitized, make sure the quality is crisp. All document details should be formatted so that they’re easy to read from beginning to end. 

To catch any issues before you start, try sending a test fax to your own fax number. Then make any adjustments as needed. 

3. Compress File Sizes for Efficient Transmission

Unlike physical fax machines, online faxing services are better at handling larger files. That means you’re not limited to sending a single document in the same fax. However, each service has different requirements. Always follow the file size guidelines before sending a fax, and remember that larger files can take much longer than smaller ones. 

You can always compress your document if you hit the file size limit. Just keep in mind that a compressed file won’t be the same quality, so you should only send a compressed document if you really need it to load quickly. And always keep the original on hand in case you need it later. 


How To Fax Multiple Pages via Online Fax Services?

If you want a quick and affordable way to fax multiple pages, step away from the fax machine and use online faxing. The best online fax services have a feature allowing you to send multiple pages at the same time. And it’s a very simple process as long as you follow all the instructions.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fax multiple pages via an affordable faxing service like eFax. 

1. Upload and Attach Multiple Page Documents

eFax allows for easy, convenient faxing, whether you’re using your desktop or the mobile app. Start by signing into your account and clicking “Send Fax.” Then follow all the instructions to set up your fax — entering the recipient’s name, location, and fax number and attaching a cover page if needed. 

Then, click “Browse” to select the documents you want to attach. Attach documents one at a time, or press and hold the CTRL key to select multiple documents. eFax has a 3GB capacity for files, making it easy to send larger files and zipped files. These file-sharing services allow you to fax multiple documents through a secure download link to up to 20 recipients at once. 

2. Configure Page Order and Orientation

Next, it’s time to arrange your documents to make sure they’re received as intended. eFax’s dashboard will place your documents in order of upload, but now is your chance to rearrange the order if needed. Double-check that each document or page is in its proper place. 

When doing your final check, don’t forget to check page orientation. Make sure each image or document faces the right way (landscape or portrait) before you send it. 

3. Verify Transmission and Confirmation Receipts

Once the fax is sent, it can take about a minute per page to arrive. It can take even longer — about five minutes — for documents with graphics. The transmission speed can also depend on the network strength of both the sender and the recipient. If the receiver’s fax is busy, eFax will automatically make a few more attempts to reach your recipient. 

After the fax is transmitted successfully (or fails to send), you’ll get an automatic confirmation message sent to your email address. To check on the status of each fax attempt, you can also view your activity within your online fax account. 


How eFax Can Help You Fax Multiple Pages at Once?

When you’re running a business, you don’t have time to send one document at a time with traditional faxing methods. Faxing multiple pages simultaneously — without delay — can help you deliver important information quickly, efficiently, and safely.

That’s where affordable online faxing services can help. With no need to print or sort your physical documents, faxing multi-page documents online has never been easier. 

Need to send large files? With eFax’s large file-sharing feature, multi-page documents are no problem. You can send up to 3GB of files to up to 20 people at once. Learn more about how eFax can streamline the fax process, or try it out today.

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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UPS Fax Service – Costs, Locations, and Alternatives

UPS Fax Service – Costs, Locations, and Alternatives

Introduction

As a business in regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and legal, sharing sensitive information safely is challenging. Faxing remains one of the best ways to share information while complying with privacy regulations such as HIPAA.

But how do you send or receive faxes when you don’t have a fax machine? Luckily, there are a few options available. The UPS fax service is ideal because it offers you many locations to choose from, depending on the one most convenient to you.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to send a fax at UPS, what you need, and how to find a UPS store near you.

Pro Tip: Traditional faxing can be challenging. However, our eFax digital faxing solution allows you to fax from anywhere, anytime, and for a low monthly fee. Our service lets you send and receive faxes from anywhere on your smartphone, computer, or tablet.

Sign up for eFax today and reduce your costs with our digital faxing solutions.

TL;DR – How to Send a Fax at UPS

Here’s how to send a fax at UPS:

  1. Search for a UPS store near you
  2. Visit the store and say you need to fax
  3. Give the associate the required details
  4. Wait for the associate to fax for you
  5. Pay the required fee.

The process of sending a fax at a UPS outlet is simple. We will discuss these steps later on in the guide. In the meantime, you can learn how eFax works to make faster, secure, and compliant faxing possible. 

Does UPS Fax? Can You Fax at UPS?

Yes. UPS offers faxing services, and you can fax at various outlets nationwide. However, not every UPS store offers the service.

You’ll need to call your preferred store first and ask if they offer faxing and scanning. If they do, be sure to book an appointment to secure a spot. Sometimes, the faxing service can be busy, and you’ll have to wait for another customer to finish.

Requirements to Use the UPS Fax Service

You’ll need the following to send a fax via using the UPS faxing service:

  • All the physical documents you want to send
  • Cover sheet if you have any (the UPS also has them)
  • The recipient’s fax number 
  • The area code if you are faxing outside the state
  • Payment for the faxing service.

How Much Does it Cost to Fax at UPS? 

Fax charges at UPS can be high. If you are faxing locally, you’ll pay $1 for the first page of your document and $1 for every extra page.

  • For regional or national faxing, the price is $2 for the first page and $1 for every additional page. 
  • If you need to fax internationally, the cost is usually $3 for the first page and $3 for every extra page. 

Here’s a quick table showing the cost to fax at UPS:

The first page of the documentEach additional page of the document
Cost to fax locally$1$1
Cost to fax nationally/over long-distance$2$1
Cost to fax internationally$3$3

It’s worth noting that the UPS fax cost can vary from one store to another, depending on the location or state. 

Additionally, your faxing budget should include the cost of time and gas for driving to and from the most convenient store.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Send a UPS Fax

Now that we are done with the basics, let’s see how you can send a document using the UPS fax service:

1. Search for a UPS Store Near You

A quick search on Google or Google Maps can show you various UPS stores near you, which you can then check further to see if they have faxing services.

We’ll talk a bit more about finding these stores later.

2. Visit the Store

Once you find and confirm that your chosen UPS outlet has a fax machine open to the public, visit it and tell the attending associate you need to fax. 

3. Give the Associate the Required Details

The staff member or associate will ask you to provide the recipient’s fax number and area code if you are sending a fax out of the state.

Provide a fax cover sheet if you have it.

4. Wait for the Associate to Fax for You

Depending on the store, you can use the fax machine yourself. Most stores will run the fax for you. If so, give the attending associate your document so they can initiate the faxing.

Once the machine establishes a connection, the fax transmission time is about 30 seconds. Your waiting time will depend on the number of pages in your document.

5. Pay the Required Fee

Once your document has been faxed successfully, pay the necessary fee for the service. If the first attempt failed, you might have to wait a bit more for the associate to try faxing again.

While sending a fax using UPS is fairly simple, you can send one faster and more securely with eFax. Sign up for our service today to send and receive faxes from anywhere! You can even electronically sign your documents before sending them, quickly attach files from the cloud to your virtual faxes, and much more.

The Best Alternative to UPS Fax

Traditional faxing is not an ideal solution in many ways. Modern faxing is an even better solution, and eFax is the best UPS fax alternative.

Here’s how the eFax stacks up against UPS fax:

        UPS Fax        eFax
Data securityVery secure but risky as it uses phone lines that are prone to tapping.Highly secure because faxes can be protected with encryptions during storage and transfer.
Portability The fax machines remain at UPS stores.You can send faxes anywhere on the go through the web portal or eFax Messenger desktop app. 
IntegrationUPS doesn’t integrate faxing with any digital workflow.You can add a fax function to your CRM using our Salesforce Connector.
CostsIt can be costly for large documents or international faxes.It charges only a low monthly fee and doesn’t have additional costs for long-distance faxes. 
Convenience and availabilityBring physical documents for scanning.Availability is limited to open business hours.You don’t have to travel around with your documents.Available all the time, anywhere on any connected device with an Internet connection.
Reporting on receipt You don’t get proof of receipt unless you call the recipient directly.You will be notified when your recipient receives the fax.
Eco-friendlinessIt hurts the environment because fax machines use ink, toner, paper, and electricity. They also emit noise and greenhouse gases.It’s very friendly to the environment because there’s no need for paper, toner, ink, or maintenance of fax machines.
ConnectivitySends faxes from a fax machine only.Sends and views faxes from devices interconnected by your eFax account, such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and computers.
SpeedFinding a UPS store can take hours. Then you wait for your turn, send the fax, and wait to know if it has been received.You can send a fax in minutes and receive a timely confirmation once the recipient gets it.
ReliabilityYour fax may fail if there is downtime or fax signals are busy.Faxes are successful because there aren’t busy signals.

Learn more about the features of eFax and how you can send and receive virtual faxes in minutes!

How to Find a UPS Fax Store Near You

There are several ways to find a nearby UPS store:

  • Search on Google or Google Maps for “UPS store near me” in your area. For example, “UPS fax store near me in Raleigh, North Carolina.”
  • Use UPS’s Store Locator on the company website. In the locator’s search bar, enter your ZIP code, city, or state, then click the “Search” button. Click “View Local Page” to see the store’s list of services.
  • Use the store locator on the UPS Store app.
  • Use the UPS Store online directory and search further for the stores in your neighborhood that offer faxing and scanning.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few additional questions you may have about UPS faxing:

You can receive a fax at UPS in much the same way you can send one. The UPS uses the traditional fax machines to send and receive messages.

Your sender can notify you that they have sent the message so you can check with the store.

Yes, you can send an international fax at UPS. The only issue is that the cost is too high. A 50-page document could cost upwards of $150.

It’s much cheaper to use an online fax solution like eFax instead.

No. You can’t fax online using UPS. The only option is to take your physical documents to one of their stores and fax them from there. 

If you prefer to fax without a fax machine, you can use eFax. Our service is a web-based portal that you can access from anywhere at any time using your eFax account and any Internet-connected device.

It’s usually safe to fax from the UPS store. Your documents won’t be accessed by anyone else apart from you and the recipient. You can also use their shredding services to destroy sensitive documents after faxing.

However, eFax is more secure because only you and the recipient access the document, and no third party is involved.

Send Faxes Anytime, Anywhere with eFax – No Fax Machine Needed

Now you know how the UPS fax service works, how to send a fax, and how much it will cost. It’s also easy to find a nearby store that offers the service.

Since online faxing is much better than traditional faxing, you’ll want a safer solution that lets you store files online for free and comply with industry regulations such as HIPAA.

That’s where eFax comes in! Learn more about what eFax is and how it works!

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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How Long Does A Fax Take To Send?

How Long Does A Fax Take To Send?

Faxes remain a crucial tool in industries such as healthcare, legal, and finance, where secure transmission of confidential information is paramount. Like most methods of communication, there is no fixed transmission time, so if you need to know how long your fax will take to arrive and why fax speed is important, there are a few things to consider. 

What is fax transmission time, and why does it matter?

how long does a fax take to go through

Fax transmission time is the length of time it takes to send a fax. A difference of up to thirty seconds more per page may not seem like a lot for just a few pages, but it can make a massive difference with long documents. Using a standard fax machine, a five-hundred-page document at one minute per page will take an entire eight-hour workday. 

At thirty seconds per page, sending the same document would only take four hours.  Anyone who has spent a long day in an office can attest to the difference four more hours can make for a single task. Online fax services like eFax can reduce sending time even further.


How long does a fax take?

How long a fax takes depends on several factors such as the type of machine used, your internet/phone connection, and more. Faxes sent through a traditional fax machine average about 30 seconds to a minute per page. A fax sent through a high-speed online service like eFax can be much faster.


4 Factors That Impact How Long It Takes to Fax Something

A few things can impact how long a fax takes, including the quality of the line you’re sending it through and what the document contains.

1. Document Size

No matter what you are sending or what type of fax machine you send it through, online or traditional, the volume of data you transmit matters. This is because different document types will be of different file sizes. A simple text document will have the fastest transmission time, while something very image-heavy will take longer. This is important to remember when trying to estimate how long a fax will take to send. The same also applies to receiving a fax. 

2. Image Quality

If you send an original document with color images, the image quality also matters. Lower-quality images will send more quickly but a document full of detailed images, graphs, or charts will take the most time to send. This is especially true if you can’t compromise quality for speed. 

The estimate of thirty to sixty seconds is most accurate for scans of documents sent in black and white at a resolution of 200 to 300 dots per inch. Other factors will affect transmission speed, particularly with traditional faxes. While the distance between sender and receiver won’t matter as much with eFax, it’s a big factor for traditional transmission times.

3. Line Quality

Estimating how long it takes to send a fax requires knowing the connection speed on both the sending and receiving ends. When sending a fax through traditional means like a fax machine, each machine must have a high enough baud rate. The baud rate is the speed at which information is transmitted. The better the transmission rate, the faster the fax is sent.

Faster isn’t always better, though. If you are dealing with a bad phone connection or your document won’t send, having a slower transmission rate may be helpful. Trying to send something quickly, experiencing an error, and having to start over could take more time than simply being careful and deliberate. If the phone lines are busy or the receiving machine is experiencing an error, the transmission may be delayed until someone at the receiving end can address the issue. 

Lousy phone connections are to blame for many lost faxes. Documents may fail to transmit completely if the dialed line is busy or gets disconnected. Most fax systems will automatically retry to dial the number and resend, but you might end up with additional fees if using a paid service to send the fax. With eFax, these issues disappear. 

4. Number of Pages

This is the most obvious factor in fax transmission time. While each page may not send at precisely the same rate, you can safely determine that each page will take thirty seconds or more to send. With traditional fax, the more pages you send, the longer the transmission time. eFax’s digital services mitigate this time sink and quicken the process. 

how long does it take to receive a fax

How To Optimize Fax Transmission Time

how long does a fax take to send

If you need your document to transmit faster and quality is less important to you, you can compress the files. Compression is a way of reducing repeated information to make the file size smaller. Compressed files are lower in quality, so if you have a lot of small text, you may want to verify the recipient can still read the text or view the images.

Compression works best on documents with a lot of white space. On a good connection, compressed files with a lot of white space can have transmission times under the general thirty-second estimate.

A web-based faxing service is the best way to optimize your fax transmission time. These fax services digitize the process, thereby eliminating multiple steps. A web-based service can reduce the time it takes to send a fax to twenty-two seconds,  and does not require monitoring while it sends. 


Choose a Reliable Online Fax Service for Your Tax Documents

The most efficient and reliable way to send a fax is through an online faxing service. The stability of the connection and mobility of the technology gives you the freedom to send detailed, image-heavy documents using only your mobile device or a computer with internet access. You only need to make an eFax account to get started. 


FAQs

How long does it take for a fax to be received?

A traditional fax machine might take over a minute to receive and print out your fax. That doesn’t account for the time it takes for the call to your fax line to be connected. A digital fax will show up almost instantly in your online eFax portal or the email inbox connected to your account.

Why does faxing take so long? 

Faxing doesn’t actually take long at all. You might be thinking of decades past when faxing a single page could take several minutes. Now, online faxing is just about as fast as sending a text message.

Is faxing or mailing faster?

Mailing a document by post is still the slowest way to send a document. Even conventional faxes with toner and ink are faster than that. Emailing a document is faster than both of those, and electronic faxes are just as fast as email. 

Can a fax be sent after hours?

Yes. Even traditional fax machines can receive faxes after hours. The problem is that someone has to be there to physically retrieve the document. A digital fax allows you to retrieve your faxes after hours from any internet-connected device.

How long does a 50-page fax take?

You can send or receive a 50-page fax within seconds using a modern digital faxing solution like eFax. Meanwhile, a traditional fax machine can take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour to receive and print a 50-page fax.

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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HIPAA Compliant Fax: Secure Faxing for Healthcare | eFax Protect

HIPAA Compliant Fax: Secure Faxing for Healthcare | eFax Protect

Secure HIPAA Compliant Fax Service for Healthcare

Since 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule has been protecting patients’ personal information and giving them greater control over who has access to their medical records. For medical professionals, the rule has far-reaching implications. It governs how information about patients is collected, stored and even how it is shared with other medical professionals, as well as insurance companies and other parties. Sending sensitive patient information isn’t quite as simple as shooting an email; instead, medical professionals and clinics must make sure that their methods of sharing this information are secure. 

This means that emails sent by medical outlets must be secure. When medical professionals call a patient, they need to have a plan in place to check that they are truly speaking to their patient, or they need to have permission to talk to a family member or care provider. 

But what about sending patient information via fax?

Just as with phone or email communication, HIPAA-compliant faxing focuses on ensuring that information is being shared to the right source and that it’s being shared securely. Faxing can be a convenient way to send patient files, lab results and more — but only if you do so in a HIPAA-complaint way. Keep reading to learn the HIPAA rules surrounding faxing, what you need to know to send a secure fax and how to choose the best HIPAA-compliant online fax service.


What are HIPAA Fax Rules?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule covers all forms of communication. This includes written communications, phone, email and fax communications. 

So how does HIPAA compliant faxing relate to security? HIPAA rules surrounding faxing largely focus on ensuring that the fax is being sent to the correct location and that it is protected if it winds up in the wrong hands.

In addition to taking precautions to make sure that the fax goes to the right place, healthcare offices also need to take one extra step in case the fax does wind up in the wrong hands. A HIPAA compliant fax cover sheet does not contain sensitive patient information and does include information about who the fax should be going to. That way, if someone else receives it, they can send it to the correct location.

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Sending a HIPAA-Compliant Fax

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to send a HIPAA-compliant fax on a traditional machine or using an online fax service.

Say that a medical testing lab wants to send a patient’s test results to their primary care physician. HIPAA rules require that the lab take precautions to ensure that the faxed results go to the correct fax number. How they go about putting safeguards in place can vary. The lab may choose to verify that they are using the correct fax number each time. This may mean having a lab technician or other employee contact the office of the primary care physician that the fax needs to be sent to confirm the number. 

However, if that lab frequently faxes records to that physician’s clinic, this may be too time-consuming. Instead, they could choose to pre-program frequently used numbers into their fax machine or online fax system. This pre-program system acts as a safeguard that decreases the risk of a fax being sent to the wrong location. Before they hit send on the fax, healthcare offices also need to attach a HIPAA complaint cover sheet that clarifies the intended recipient. This is designed to deter someone else from looking at the information. However, this method isn’t foolproof when using a traditional fax machine.

The best HIPAA-compliant online fax service is one that simplifies the process of sending secure faxes. It allows the healthcare office to ensure that they are meeting privacy rules without increasing their employee workload by making choosing a recipient easy. Also, it allows the office to quickly create HIPAA compliant cover sheets, even though these cover sheets are less necessary with online faxes, as the fax is sent directly to the recipient’s inbox.


Is Faxing HIPAA Compliant?

Faxing can be HIPAA compliant. However, the standard faxes sent by most offices are not. To make your fax HIPAA compliant, you must show that you’ve taken precautions to ensure it is going to the correct location.

If you’re using an online fax service, your service will need to be encrypted. In addition to a secure faxing solution, you’ll also need a HIPAA-compliant fax cover sheet.

So do you need a HIPAA-compliant fax machine? Not necessarily. However,  traditional fax machines make it easy to make mistakes when entering the fax number of your recipient. Faxes may also sit on the machine of the recipient for some time. Anyone walking by can pick up the fax, breaking HIPAA rules and exposing patient information.


Are Online Fax Services HIPAA Compliant?

If your healthcare office is still relying on a traditional fax machine, you could be putting your patients’ sensitive information at risk—and your office at risk of a lawsuit for breaking HIPAA privacy rules. You may ask: “So how do I get a HIPAA compliant fax machine?” The answer may be to skip the machine altogether and make the move to online faxing. Not only can this make it easier to ensure compliance, but it’s also the cheapest HIPAA-compliant fax service available today because you won’t need to worry about investing in a machine or the maintenance that goes with it.

But is online fax HIPAA compliant? Much like traditional fax machines, this depends on the specific online fax service that you choose, and how you use it. Modern online fax solutions make it easier to meet—or exceed—HIPAA privacy rules. Your faxes go directly to the recipient’s email inbox. With the best online fax service for medical practices, you can send encrypted faxes, quickly check that they are going to the right recipient, and attach a HIPAA-compliant cover sheet. Because your fax goes directly to the recipient’s inbox, you won’t have to worry about the wrong eyes landing on your fax.


Is HIPAA Faxing Safe for Highly-Sensitive Documents?

Is fax secure for sensitive data? This depends on the type of fax you use and the precautions you take when sending your fax. If you’re meeting the necessary HIPAA requirements for encrypted file sharing, and your faxing solution is secure, then faxing is a safe, effective and fast way to send and receive even highly sensitive documents.

However, if you’re still using a traditional fax machine or are using an online fax service that isn’t secured, you should avoid sending sensitive documents. These could wind up in the wrong hands, exposing your patient’s information and putting your healthcare office at risk of a lawsuit for failing to protect your patients.


Is the eFax Online Fax Service HIPAA-Compliant?

Introducing eFax Protect, a highly encrypted secure online fax solution that allows heavily regulated industries to gain HIPAA Compliance with signed Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) for enhanced protection of their sensitive data. By utilizing signed BAAs, eFax Protect helps you maintain the confidentiality and integrity of data, while encryption protocols safeguard unauthorized access during transmission.

Healthcare professionals depend on fax everyday to send and receive documents. eFax Protect ensures they have the security and compliance they need when faxing medical documents from our iOS and Android mobile apps, our eFax Messenger tool, and our MyPortal web app.

  • Enhance the security of your fax communications and maintain compliance with applicable requirements under HIPAA, GLBA and SOX.
  • Utilize AES 256-bit encryption to ensure data remains secure and protected from unauthorized access during transmission.
  • Audit Trails provide tracking and monitor fax activities to ensure transparency and accountability. 

Is a Cloud Fax HIPAA Secure and Reliable?

Not only is the eFax Protect online faxing solution an easy way to meet HIPAA privacy rules, but it’s also secure and reliable. eFax Protect utilizes encryption protocols so you can transmit documents safely while ensuring that the privacy of your sensitive information remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access during transmission.

While not all email to fax is HIPAA compliant, eFax Protect is. Whether you’re still using a traditional fax machine or have made the move to online faxing, you need a solution that goes above HIPAA compliance with secure, reliable cloud faxing.


Is There a Cloud Faxing Solution for Healthcare Providers?

If you’ve been on the hunt for a HIPAA-compliant fax app for iPhone, Android, or for use on your desktop, eFax Protect is the solution. Our safe and secure cloud faxing solution allows healthcare offices of all shapes and sizes to send patient information, records, test results and more with ease. Add a HIPAA compliant fax cover sheet, choose your recipient and send your fax directly to the recipient without worrying about it landing in the wrong hands. 

If you’re a healthcare provider looking to protect your patients’ sensitive information and meet the HIPAA Privacy Rules, we can help. Start your free trial with one of the best HIPAA-compliant digital online fax solutions available today!


Frequently Asked Questions

Is eFax Protect safe for HIPAA?

Yes, eFax Protect is safe and complies with HIPAA regulations.

HIPAA allows for data-sharing, but only between certain stakeholders. Any wrong step  like using a non-secure file-sharing platform — can make data available to unintended recipients and even bad actors. And unfortunately, many typical methods companies use to share information are not as safe as they seem. This is especially true as hackers continually improve their tactics.

Healthcare organizations need a tamper-proof way to share sensitive patient information  and eFax provides just that. 

eFax Protect uses military-grade encryption to ensure no one can intercept the data while in transit. It doesn’t matter if your team faxes from their desktop, mobile device or laptop — the AES 256-bit encryption protects the information to help your organization remain HIPAA compliant. 

What is the HIPAA-compliant way to send a fax?

Technically, traditional machine faxing can be HIPAA-compliant because it offers point-to-point data protection. The issue may arise when the fax prints out at the recipient’s machine, though. Healthcare organizations must ensure they are sending the document to the right recipient and include a cover letter explaining who the information is for in case it ends up in the wrong hands. 

However, even with these precautions, traditional faxing isn’t foolproof. Documents can easily end up with the wrong people, especially if they’re left forgotten at fax machines. And if the wrong person accesses the information, the file-sharing process is no longer HIPAA-compliant. 

A better solution is eFax. It offers consistently safe and HIPAA-compliant file-sharing processes, thanks to the AES 256-bit encryption. You no longer have to worry about whether your faxes are going to the right place or if someone has accidentally intercepted them. By using eFax, you know exactly where your information is going — and that the data is completely protected in transit.  

Is fax to email HIPAA-compliant?

Email itself is not HIPAA-compliant. When you send a standard email, it travels in plain text from your mail server to your recipient’s. That means anyone can intercept the email during transit, including when it’s left unread in the recipient’s inbox. 

However, fax via email can be HIPAA-compliant if you use a service like eFax Protect. 

eFax Protect employs military-grade encryption to ensure your documents have the ultimate protection throughout transit. Instead of traveling in plain text, the information on the emailed fax gets jumbled until the recipient opens the email. That means anyone who tries to hack or intercept the email will only see an incomprehensible set of characters — one that’s almost impossible to decrypt. 

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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eFax Blog

When was the Fax Machine Invented?

A Brief History of the Fax Machine

While the modern fax machine was invented in 1964 by the Xerox company, the first fax machine ever invented was Alexander Bain’s Electric Printing Telegraph, patented in 1843. Fax machines were the forerunners of digital communication and fax services predate the telephone.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the AT&T Corporation advanced fax technology by sending photos via wire transmission. Soon after, The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) successfully transmitted a wireless fax across the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t until decades later though that the first modern-day, commercialized fax machine was introduced by the Xerox Corporation.

Fax machine usage in commerce became widespread during the 1960s after Xerox patented the first modern fax machine. In 1966, a fax machine that could be connected to any phone line made faxing documents commonplace in many businesses. Since then, faxes have come a long way, and these days, online faxing is common.

Over the past 75 years, fax transmission time has reduced from an average of six minutes to an average of one minute. The classic “fax machine” of the 1980s (which cost $20,000 in 1982!) has also become obsolete, and faxes are now routinely sent from computers, smartphones or tablets.

Much of modern business has moved online, and fax machines are no different. Online platforms like eFax make it easy to send, receive and sign documents from any device with an internet connection. This keeps fax machine usage relevant in our changing world.

history-of-fax-infographic

When was the Fax Machine Invented?

The fax machine was invented in 1843 by Alexander Bain, a Scottish inventor, who patented the device. It used a mechanism to scan handwritten or printed images and then transmit them over telegraph lines. This early fax machine laid the groundwork for later developments in fax technology, including the first recognizable version of what we consider the telephone fax patented by the Xerox company in 1964. In 2010, the emergence of internet faxing brought about a new era in fax communication, utilizing cloud-based servers and internet connectivity to transmit documents digitally.

Timeline of Fax Machine History

1843: Mechanical Fax

Alexander Bain invents the ‘Electric Printing Telegraph’ machine in 1843 which is the world’s first fax device.

1880: Scanning PhotoTelegraph

The English inventor Shelford Bidwell invents the Scanning PhotoTelegraph machine, which is the first telefax machine capable of scanning and sending a two-dimensional image.

1888: TelAutograph

In 1888 the TelAutograph machine was invented by Elisha Grey which allowed users to send signature images over long distances.

1924: Wire Transmission

Scientists at the AT&T Corporation advance fax technology further by sending photos by telephone/wire transmission.

1924: Wireless Transmission

The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) develops the TransOceanic Radio Facsimile and successfully transmits a photograph between New York and London.

1924: Color Fax

The AT&T Corporation invents a fax device which is capable of transmitting the world’s first color facsimile.

1924: 6 mins

It took 6 mins to send a single page fax.

1960: Satellite Fax

The U.S. Army sends the world’s first photograph via satellite facsimile from America to Puerto Rico.

1964: Telephone Transmission

The first commercialized version of the modern-day fax machine is introduced and patented by the Xerox Corporation using telephone transmission.

1974: 3 mins

It took 3 mins to send a single page fax – how long does an eFax transmission take?

1982: $20,000

The cost of a fax machine was recorded at $20,000, which when adjusted for inflation, equates to $62,350 in present-day currency.

1982: Computer Based Fax Board

GammaLink introduced the first computer based fax board, the GammaFax.

1988: Fax Stamp

Europa. Transport and Communications stamp was printed in Greece. Stamp features a satellite and fax machine, symbolizing advancements in transportation and communication technology during that era.

1996: Internet Fax

The first internet fax service is made available to the general public allowing users to send and receive a facsimile via a computer without fax machines.

2010: Internet Fax via Apple Devices

eFax launches iOS app, allowing users the ability to fax directly from their Apple devices.

2011: Internet Fax via Android Devices

eFax launches Android app, enabling users with Android devices to send faxes.


The History of the Fax Machine

If there’s one invention that’s benefited from the passage of time, it’s the fax machine. Invented back in 1843 by Alexander Bain, the first fax machine was a far cry from the compact fax machines we know today.

The image quality was poor and transmissions were less than expedient. Considering the technology at the time, though, this was to be expected. Bain used “pendulums” and a “clock” to synchronize and capture images on a line by line basis – not exactly a speedy way of doing things. The images were then reproduced, giving way to the first fax.

It wasn’t until English physicist Frederick Bakewell improved on Bain’s original “fax machine” that faxing began to take shape – although not at breakneck speed. Bakewell’s fax machine used “rotating cylinders” and a “stylus” to create faxes. In spite of debuting at the 1851 World’s Fair in London to curious stares, it failed to be a runaway hit. Thankfully, Bakewell’s fax machine served as a blueprint from which other inventors could later draw inspiration.

By the late 1860s, Giovanni Caselli had come up with a fax machine known as the Pantelegraph. Unlike its predecessors, though, it was a hit – forming the basis of the modern-day fax machine. It would take another century before fax technology truly found its stride, though.

Xerox

In 1964, Xerox invented the Long Distance Xerograph (LDX), a fax machine that could transmit regular-size documents (one page at a time) to any fax machine in the world. Unfortunately, it took around six minutes to do so. The LDX would remain the standard in fax until a Japanese telecommunications corporation created the “ITU G3 Facsimile Standard” in 1980. But it wouldn’t take long before a new development in fax would take over.

The Rise of Analog Faxing

There are a number of reasons why analog fax machines helped to take fax to the next level. For starters, all you needed to do was plug your fax machine into a regular phone line, and wham! You were ready to send your next fax. This was a big incentive back in the ‘80s and ‘90s – largely because the internet hadn’t yet taken off and people still believed that fax was the safest way to send private data.

But as corporations began to rely more heavily on analog fax machines, the cost to maintain them began to add up. There were paper costs, ink costs, maintenance and repair costs, and more. Plus, there was the inconvenience of having administrators run documents back and forth to the fax machine – impatiently waiting for a busy signal to give way to a much-needed ringtone. And when faxes did transmit, administrators would have to distribute them one-by-one to their intended recipient.

So what’s the takeaway here? Fax technology was transforming, but it was still a pain.

Multifunction Devices

Adding fax machines to copiers or multifunction devices (MFDs) was supposed to make faxing more convenient. And in a lot of ways it did. You could scan, print, fax, and copy documents from one standalone machine – hooray! But the cost factor was still a major problem for owners. In many instances, the cost to run a MFD was more than the cost to run a traditional fax machine. And we’re not just talking about the price tag, but also the cost to repair them.

This was around the time that corporations began switching to fax servers to improve the function of their MFDs and standalone fax machines. On the whole, fax servers were great. Fax machine owners could reduce paper costs and send faxes faster. But as with any next-generation technology, the cost to set up a fax server was expensive. So expensive, in fact, that one server could run thousands of dollars to buy, set up, and run.

That’s not to say that fax servers didn’t bring convenience – they did. Users could send faxes directly from their desktop – without having to deal with an actual printer or fax machine. Further, fax servers answered the all-important question of how to handle private information, which HIPAA law prevents from lingering out in the open on, say, an old-fashioned fax machine, for example.

As fax servers became the new norm for corporations, however, small business owners and individuals were still looking for ways to make faxing easier for them.

Internet Faxing

As the world migrated to the web for most of its data needs, including email, cloud storage, and document editing, a new evolution in fax began in the mid-1990s. For the first time, anyone could send a fax from a computer using an online fax service. The cost was affordable and the technology was simple. All you needed was an internet-ready device and an online fax account.

Unlike traditional fax machines, online fax is fast and convenient. You can send faxes from wherever you access the internet, connecting to fax machines around the world in seconds. Best of all, you don’t have to pay the expensive cost of owning a fax server. For very little money, individuals and businesses alike could send faxes on the go – enjoying the same features you’d expect from a traditional machine, like cover sheets, free local fax numbers, and transmission verification reports.

In addition, online fax services provide end-to-end audit trails, confirming the transfer of your faxes the moment they’re complete. You could even add a cover letter or input an electronic signature to sign a contract.

Online fax service companies offer both email fax and mobile fax capabilities from one electronic device, such as an iPhone. Whereas before you needed a bulky fax machine to send faxes, with a fax app, all you need is your cell phone. You can send, read, edit, and manage all your faxes from one administrator-controlled account.

The Impact of Fax Today

Fax remains an important technology today thanks to leading online fax companies like eFax®. With the eFax Mobile App—one of the best fax apps—you can send multiple faxes to multiple people in seconds. Your faxed documents print out like real faxes, and you can track every stage of the transmission process—including the time and date of completion.

Putting a fax machine into the pockets of busy people and business owners revolutionized the way people send and read fax information. Once we were beholden to old-fashioned fax machines, fax servers, phone lines, printer paper, ink, and IT experts. Today, we can send a fax as easily as we can send email thanks to online faxing—the best fax machine alternative there is.

Faxing has transformed significantly since its initial entry into our business and personal lives. But one thing’s clear: its impact continues to grow. We can use online fax to stay connected, increase responsiveness, save time, safeguard private data, and more.

Bain and Bakewell may not have received the credit they deserved in their lifetime, along with the countless other inventors who followed in their footsteps. But they certainly have changed the way we think about data transmission, and that’s worth an honorable mention!

How Do Fax Machines Work?

Traditional faxing machines effectively send photocopies across telephone wires. At a high level, a fax machine works in three stages: 

  • Scan a document 
  • Send the document to another fax machine 
  • That machine prints out the document 

Modern machines can use a modem instead of a telephone line to send a fax via the internet. This is similar to how Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows us to make traditional phone calls or through online apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. 

Fax machines turn scanned images into sound signals that are then converted to a sound wave signature which can reproduce the image on another piece of paper at the other end of the line. Modern fax machines can convert the image into an electronic format that can then be stored electronically, sent to an email recipient or printed on paper. 

The earliest fax machines used radio waves to transmit images. Most fax machines use thermal paper, just as they did back in the late 1800s.

Why Online Faxing Is Better than Fax Machines

Online faxing is superior to traditional fax machines in many ways, including: 

  1. Cost: Senders don’t have to buy a fax machine or maintain a physical phone line just for the fax. Senders also don’t have to buy fax paper, ink or toner. 
  2. Ease of Use: You can send and view faxes from any internet-connected device using your eFax account. This includes computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. 
  3. Safety: While fax machines communicate over unsecured phone lines, online faxes can be encrypted and protected. eFax systems can even help filter out spam. 
  4. Storage: eFax allows you to store digital faxes and file them easily, so you can access your faxed documentation at any time. 

Extra features: eFax users also receive local, toll-free fax numbers and get access to a variety of other great features and benefits


Fax Machine are History

Modern online faxing solutions provide increased versatility and convenience over traditional fax machines. Online faxing is easy, affordable and convenient.

You can use eFax to send signed documents, files that are too big for email attachments and any other paperwork that can’t be sent through email. You can also convert your incoming faxes to emails to distribute around your office and store them electronically. This innovative alternative to faxing documentation is an affordable and accessible way to set your business up to send and receive faxes. 

Sign up for eFax to start your modern faxing journey today. 


FAQs Around Fax Invention

The first fax machine was invented by Alexander Bain’s Electric Printing Telegraph, patented in 1843. He successfully sent an image using the machine, but it was low-quality. The fax machine went through many iterations before the modern fax machine was invented in 1964 by Xerox company. 

Alexander Bain invented the first fax machine in 1843. He called it the Electric Printing Telegraph.

The first internet fax was sent in 1996. It allowed users to send and receive faxes instantly using a computer device connected to the internet. 

Yes, technologies like eFax offer a reliable and secure medium to send and receive faxes online. Moreover, many business owners rely heavily on faxes and don’t see the need to adopt another form of communication if what exists now still works.

Read Resources About the Invention of the Fax Machine

Electronics.howstuffworks.com; When Was the Fax Machine Invented?

Thoughtco.com; History of the Fax Machine

Encyclopedia.com; The Invention of the Fax Machine

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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eFax Blog

Virtual Webinar Explores HHS Proposed Changes to Modify HIPAA Privacy Rule

Virtual Webinar Explores HHS Proposed Changes to Modify HIPAA Privacy Rule

This past December, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. These proposed modifications to the rule would help support patient engagement and remove barriers to coordinated care as well as reduce regulatory burdens on the health care industry.

This news from HHS set the stage for a timely webinar co-sponsored by eFax Corporate and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) titled HIPAA in 2021: HHS Proposed Changes to Modify Privacy Rule and its Impact on Covered Entities.

Hosted by ANSWERS Media, the virtual discussion was led by two leading privacy and security experts in the healthcare sphere – Brad Spannbauer, Consensus’s VP of software implementation, and professional services and Lee Barrett, executive director and CEO of EHNAC. Both participants each brought diverse knowledge and opinions on the proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the potential effects it might have on providers and the patients they care for, along with any provisions that may need to be implemented once the rule is finalized.


Experts discuss overview and ramifications of key provisions outlined in the rule

The current timeline of the Proposed Rule and the release of Final Rule. The Proposed Rule was officially issued on December 10, 2020 and was published by NPRM in the Federal Register on January 22, 2021. Comments are open until March 22, 2021, and Spannbauer encouraged listeners to take part and leave their thoughts. He went on to inform attendees that it takes approximately 90 days after comments close for a rule to catch, and covered entities will have 180 days to implement the results.

The impact of COVID-19. According to Barrett, some of what has happened with the Privacy Rule goes back to the beginning of the pandemic. The Office for Civil Rights established bulletins and guidance in February of 2020, the focus is trying to minimize the impact on fines and penalties that could be levied throughout by the OCR. Overall, Barrett believes the objective was to increase information sharing amongst a variety of entities while also focusing on good faith efforts of covered entities and business associates regarding how patient information would be shared.  

Telehealth. We saw an astounding rise in telehealth practice during the pandemic. Telehealth was a key component in healthcare because patients were not making appointments or visiting their primary care physicians. Smartphone applications became a link between various organizations, trying to make it easy for both patients and providers no matter the diagnosis or treatment plan. The OCR will not be imposing HIPAA penalties against healthcare providers for noncompliance in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth using these remote communication technologies. It has been outlined that covered providers can utilize apps such as FaceTime or Skype, but are unable to use Facebook Live, TikTok, or Twitch when providing telehealth.

Guidance on disclosures to law enforcement, first responders, public health authorities. This will identify existing HIPAA Privacy Rule permissions and provide examples for when a covered entity may disclose PHI about individuals without their HIPAA authorization. If an individual was in an emergency situation where treatment was needed, a first responder was potentially at risk for infection, or any information would prevent or lessen a serious threat then the absolute minimum bit of information would be necessary to disclose.

Modifications to the rules. These modifications protect covered entities from being subject to the minimum necessary requirement for uses by, disclosures to, or requests by a health plan or covered healthcare provider for care coordination and case management activities. Covered entities can disclose PHI to social services agencies, community-based organizations, or home and service providers. The modifications were proposed to encourage covered entities to use and disclose PHI more broadly in a variety of circumstances, which allows for the broad sharing of information in the midst of emergencies.


A new administration brings change

Each administration brings about new changes, and the Biden Administration will be no different. Barrett discussed the vast background in healthcare technology that the newly designated head of ONC Micky Tripathi, will bring to his post – including serving on The Sequoia Board of Directors and furthering FHIR initiatives in support of interoperability. He went on to note how there will also be changes to the CMS administration as many candidates are currently going through the nomination process. A select few industry experts are also going through the nomination process for the position of HHS Secretary. As leaders are selected and continue to drive efforts in the right direction, Barrett expressed how it has been stated that interoperability initiatives started under the Obama Administration will continue under the Biden Administration.


HIPAA Safe Harbor Law

The webinar also touched on the Safe Harbor Law, which amends the HIPAA HITECH Act and requires HHS to focus on incentivizing organizations to promulgate best practice security. According to Barrett, the goal of this law is to “not penalize those organizations that may have been impacted by a cyberattack, ransomware or other.” He went on to say how choosing not to seek third-party accreditation leaves the impacted organizations subject to an audit by OCR as well as certain fines and penalties due to their lack of proper cyber hygiene.


Now you know, but what should you do to prepare for the Final Rule?

Barrett first advised that all covered entities take time to review their current policies and procedures to determine what revisions need to be made ahead of the Final Rule approval. Covered entities shouldn’t wait to start making provisions on what those revisions might be. Second, all covered entities should begin to look at their organizations’ training processes. Should the Final Rule be approved, where do training tactics need to be amended to meet the new changes? For example, front office staff members should be aware of all forms that patients might have completed and submitted previously as patients could come in and ask to review their PHI on the spot. They might even ask for their records to be sent to another entity. If this Rule is implemented, the timing of these events will go from 30 to 15 days.

Spannbauer concluded the webinar by telling attendees how a majority of these changes will eliminate burdens for covered entities and should be embraced as they will not only make life a little easier for those they impact but, most importantly, because they support patient care.

Watch the complete webinar: HIPAA in 2021: HHS Proposed Changes to Modify Privacy Rule and its Impact on Covered Entities

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Why VoIP Faxing Can be Trouble…

Why VoIP Faxing Can be Trouble…

(and What to do About it)

As the world’s leading provider of cloud fax services for midsized to large businesses, we receive a lot of questions from IT professionals about faxing and VoIP. “Can we fax over a VoIP line?” many ask us.  Because most of these companies have already migrated to a VoIP infrastructure (which we have written about in previous blog posts) for their voice communications, they are obviously hoping we’ll say yes.

But not before we offer them some serious warnings.

“You can try, and it may work just fine,” we would say.  “But it might not work consistently, meaning some faxes may go through but not others, especially longer ones more than a few pages. Or you may be able to send faxes but not receive, or visa versa.”  

In fact, faxing over VoIP can be so problematic that many VoIP service providers recommend keeping a plain old telephone service (POTS) line or two just to be on the safe side with analog applications like fax, postage machines and alarm systems, not to mention as a backup for when the VoIP network goes down, which it invariably will from time to time.  That advice gets the provider off the hook when problems pop up and brings in additional revenue, as traditional business phone lines typically cost over $50/month.


Can You Fax Over VoIP?

Technically speaking, yes, a business can send and receive faxes over a VoIP network. But the more you know about VoIP, the less confident you will be entrusting it with your company’s important fax transmissions, especially if you are doing a high volume of faxing.

And in case you aren’t familiar with VoIP, here’s a very brief overview of what it is and how it works.

how-voip-works-with-fax

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a communication technique used for sending voice over what used to data-only networks.  Rather than transmitting a conversation over the traditional circuit-based telephone network, VoIP takes the sounds in your phone call — the voices of the speakers and any background noises — and converts all of that into a series of data packets.  These packets are like envelopes containing the bits that comprise the voice call.  

The VoIP packets travel across your local area network (LAN) and/or wide area network (WAN), and may also be sent across the Internet, mixed in with many other packets containing email messages, word documents, spreadsheets, images, etc. At the receiving end, the voice packets are separated from the other ‘data’ packets and reassembled to recreate the words that were just spoken.  

Naturally this all has to happen very fast, in a fraction of a second, so VoIP packets are considered to be very time-sensitive; if a packet containing a snippet of a word is delayed or arrives out of order, it is useless and must be discarded.  That leads to the occasional blips and dropouts that one hears in VoIP phone calls, especially if they happen to travel over the public Internet where network congestion can cause packets to be delayed or lost along the way.

Converting voice to packets using VoIP technology makes sense for several reasons, but the first advantage is the tremendous cost savings that can be achieved by converging multiple types of business communications, that used to require multiple dedicated networks, over a single connection.

A related benefit is compression to reduce the amount of bandwidth required for phone calls. VoIP doesn’t just convert analog voice calls into digital format — the technology can compress that data considerably. A typical phone call, when it is digitized, requires 64kilobits per second (kbps) of bandwidth per call.

VoIP services, using compression protocols, can squeeze the number of bits in a voice call down to as little as 32, 16, 8 or even 4kbps (with corresponding reductions in sound quality), before sending that call across the Internet. For a large company or call center, whose employees make hundreds or even thousands of calls a day, this adds up to considerable savings.

But here’s the problem. While many forms of data can handle and even benefit from compression — including voice, documents and video — the analog fax tones cannot be compressed.

And this is where fax’s problems with VoIP begin.

How Fax Works In A VoIP Environment — And Why It Can Fail To Work…

There are two primary difficulties in transmitting fax over an IP network or VoIP service.

The first problem:  Fax cannot be compressed so it must be digitized for transmission over IP as a full rate 64Kbps data stream.  That may not matter for occasional use, but it adds up in a high volume faxing environment, especially at peak hours when everyone else is trying to send their documents or make calls at the same time. Most VoIP calls are compressed to 32kbps or less, so fax consumes at least twice the bandwidth of a compressed VoIP call.  In addition, there is the IP packet overhead, which increases the required bandwidth to around 88kbps, or at least 175% more bandwidth than a VoIP call.

Second, Fax has little tolerance for packet delay and packet loss. One of the virtues of IP is that large data files can be compressed and “packetized,” broken down into smaller discrete packets of information and then transmitted over the Internet. This technique attaches a ‘header’ containing destination and source IP addresses to each individual packet (like the “to” and “from” address on an postal envelope) — and including information about the packet’s place in the larger sequence of the data (“I’m the fourth piece in a seven-piece series that makes up part of this fax”), and where it’s going (“Here’s the IP address of the computer where I’m supposed to be delivered”).

What this means is that IP allows the network to find the fastest, clearest route for each individual packet to reach its destination. This sometimes means that pieces of the transmission — such as an email message — arrive out of sequence. The process still works reliably, though, because the header information helps the system put the document back together almost immediately upon arrival at the recipient’s end. If some packets get lost along the way, they can be retransmitted until the full message is assembled.  

This works well for documents and email, where a few seconds of delay is not noticed, but not so well for ‘real-time’ communications, and for Fax the delay could be deadly.

You’ve no doubt been on a phone call where someone cuts out momentarily and you miss a part of a word or two. That’s a packet(s) not reaching the other end of its VoIP journey to your phone or arriving too late, in which case the packet will be discarded. In those cases, all you have to do is ask the other person to repeat their last sentence. And believe it or not, in other cases a word or two is dropped and your brain is able to interpolate the missing information without your even realizing it consciously. This is why voice managed to make the transition to IP despite the imperfections.

A fax, by contrast, cannot be compressed and cannot tolerate even a tiny percentage of packet loss — even a 1% packet loss, and more than a couple seconds of delay, can cause the connection to time-out and the fax to fail. It also cannot tolerate a break in the packet sequence which could result in more delay. The recipient’s fax machine might very well read any of these issues as a problem with the inbound fax, and kill the entire transmission.

The second problem:  Fax transmissions have low tolerance for interoperability issues. The hundreds of millions of active fax machines in the world use several different fax protocols — T.30, T.38 and G.711 being the primary ones, and speeds like V.14 or V.34, while VoIP typically uses G.729 to compress calls and save bandwidth.

When a fax is sent over an analog network like the phone system, the two fax machines communicate with each other and agree on the type and speed of transmission. But when the fax is being transmitted over VoIP, any gaps in the tones create the same problems for the recipient’s fax machine.

If a fax travels over a VoIP network from a machine using one protocol and arrives at a machine that expects another, this can cause gaps in the fax’s analog tones as the system tries to work out the protocol issues. The fax machines misinterpret the gaps and lose synchronization with each other.

For example, when the VoIP network is set to use G.729 compression, it has to switch to G.711 for uncompressed transmission when a fax is sent.  The brief breaks on the fax tones that occur as the VoIP system tries to negotiate between the two protocols can cause the fax to fail.  And the longer the fax, the less likely it is to make it through.

T.38 may save the day, someday. The newer T.38 protocol was intended to transmit faxes directly over IP (FoIP), so the fax doesn’t need to be converted to an audio stream first. In theory, two T.38 capable fax machines should be able to communicate over VoIP.

But T.38 must be on both ends of a network to work, and many service providers never implemented the protocol. If the fax has to traverse networks that do not support T.38, it will need to be transcoded, which can add latency, increase cost, and may cause the call to disconnect. In addition, the spec has been implemented in various ways by manufacturers, so that one machine’s T.38 may be incompatible with another vendor’s equipment. The result is a failure to communicate.


Fax Can’t Share the Information Highway

An intuitive way to understand the unique challenges that Internet Protocol creates for faxing is by thinking of a standard analog fax transmission as a presidential motorcade. Fax was designed to enjoy a dedicated and direct path from sender to recipient.  On the old telephone network, fax traveled over a dedicated circuit it didn’t have to share with anybody.  Returning to our motorcade analogy, this is where all cross-traffic is blocked to keep the motorcade’s speed high and consistent, and in which all of the cars in the motorcade can remain in their original sequence for the entire journey. Put simply, all lanes for the fax are cleared from start to finish so there is never any delay.

A VoIP or other IP-based network, on the other hand, was designed for complex and ever-changing traffic patterns — more like a 12-lane highway where a mixture of real-time and non-real time data packets (cars) are frenetically traversing the path and jumping in and out of lanes at all times. Some of these pieces of data share a lane for part of their journey; some data packets arrive in a different order than they were sent; still others might get re-routed or even stuck on the road for a few moments, forcing the finished data transmission to wait at the recipient’s end until they arrive and can be pieced back together in order.

Fax is a road-hog of a technology, not designed to share its lane with anyone else. So when confronted with delayed or dropped packets, fax simply shuts down.

Which is why we at eFax Corporate explain to the IT professionals who ask us that, “yes, technically you can send or receive a business fax over a VoIP network — but doing so may create more problems for your organization than it solves.”

So What Can You Do About Fax After You’ve Migrated to an IP Environment

It’s tempting to look for a way to migrate your company’s legacy fax infrastructure to your new IP environment. After all, IP creates efficiencies, it helps your organization save money, and it can centralize many of the communications technologies that your IT department once had to manage and troubleshoot separately.

But if we’ve convinced you that fax won’t enjoy the many benefits of IP that your other data communications are enjoying, then the question is: What can you do to modernize, streamline and improve the efficiency of your legacy fax infrastructure?


The way we see it, you have the following four options:

1.  You can leave your existing fax infrastructure in place, and continue to pay for dedicated telecom services.  This is relatively safe, at least for now, but it fails to address many of your existing issues with faxing and creates new ones of it own. Caring for an aging in-house fax infrastructure is costly and time-consuming for your business or IT department.  Also, as you know because you’re managing it, a legacy fax environment is inefficient.

2.  If you’ve migrated to IP and now are having trouble with faxing, you can roll-back to costly analog lines for every fax number (or to a full onsite network of fax servers and fax machines that also require their own numbers over digital T1 lines). A big step backward for the IT team — but a happy turn of events for your telco provider.

3.  Wait for the standards bodies to introduce a new protocol that fixes the fax-over-IP problems such as delay, jitter, packet loss and other reliability issues. Keep in mind that G.711, T.37, T.38 and other protocols are still in operation decades after they were introduced. So you might be waiting a long time for the perfect, standards-body solution.

4.  Move to a cloud fax model. The cloud faxing solutions from eFax Corporate provides the ideal platform for delivering faxes over IP networks because they convert the fax into an email attachment which is independent of the underlying network technology.  The fax is now a series of data packets riding on a data network. Voila! Problem solved, and users can now send and receive faxes directly from their desktop, with a complete audit trail of very fax sent and received.

For Cloud Faxing, You Can Trust Industry Leader eFax Corporate

For the confidential documents you need to send or receive by fax, your enterprise can check all of the important boxes by upgrading your VoIP fax infrastructure to the cloud fax leader, eFax Corporate.

Our fax by email service is built on a highly secure, redundant global network — which can enhance your organization’s document security and regulatory compliance while at the same allowing your IT teams to outsource their entire fax infrastructure to a trusted cloud provider.

For more about Cloud Fax, you can also download our free white paper:

The IT Manager’s Survival Guide: Outsource Your Fax Infrastructure to the Cloud

Send and receive faxes in minutes.

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Why On-Prem and Hybrid Faxing Can’t Compare to Faxing in the Cloud

Why On-Prem and Hybrid Faxing Can’t Compare to Faxing in the Cloud

It’s probably fair to say your organization has invested a great deal in fax technology over the years, and despite the fact that most of the rest of the world has moved on to digital faxing, some paper faxing is still necessary. Does that mean you should just live with the inconvenience? Maybe you should switch to a hybrid model? Or does it make sense to transition to the cloud? We’ll answer each of those questions in this post.

Four reasons not to stay with on-prem faxing

This is the easy part. Other than inertia, there are no reasons to continue to run an on-prem fax infrastructure. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Fax servers and desktop fax machines depend on the plain old telephony service (POTS), and the FCC is requiring telecom carriers to phase out their POTS services this year. Even if a few carriers don’t comply right away, your network is going to become less reliable and more challenging to manage.
  2. Your IT department should not be spending time keeping fax servers operational with up-to-date cards and software licenses, purging data to keep fax hard drives from filling, monitoring and replenishing toner and other supplies, and monitoring usage levels to anticipate capacity needs.
  3. Fax troubleshooting is a waste of time. People dislike using faxes, and the people who have to try to figure out why a fax won’t go through or wasn’t received dislikes it even more. 
  4. The technology isn’t just old, it’s ancient. Fax machines are a holdover from the 1980s, and they depend on telephony infrastructure launched in the 1880s.

Four reasons hybrid faxing is not the answer

So, on-prem faxing isn’t the answer for a litany of reasons. Check. How about hybrid faxing? In theory, hybrid faxing offers in-house control with the efficiency of the cloud. But there are some problems with that theory:
 

  1. Hardware limits. This model depends on in-house fax servers, so there are still tough decisions to be made about capacity (e.g., when to buy a new server when fax usage reaches the limits of your hardware).
  2. Time Lost mired in the details of administrative processes. With hybrid faxing, you will still have to monitor and maintain your on-prem servers, purge and archive server data, update software, and troubleshoot problems.
  3. Security – your data could be at risk. You’ll continue to face security/regulatory issues. For example, employees print faxes and delete the stored ones but don’t securely store the hardcopies. Similarly, employees might move the stored fax data to a digital location that’s not encrypted or secured. These unsecured practices open the door for third parties to steal or manipulate your data.
  4. Cost Savings. You’re paying double for your faxing system with either option in comparison to faxing in the cloud. You have the expense of maintaining on-prem fax servers while paying a third party to manage the cloud component of your
    fax environment.

We told you about the downside to prem and hybrid faxing. The experts agree that cloud faxing is the smart choice. Here are seven reasons to choose cloud faxing over other options:

  1. Cloud faxing has a much lower total cost of ownership. We have seen companies lower their faxing costs by 50% or more in comparison to these two other choices.
  2. Cloud fax frees up your IT team to spend their time on more important things.
  3. If the provider you choose has a geographically redundant network, you’ll never experience fax downtime.
  4. Advanced cloud fax solutions encrypt your fax data in transit and in storage and bring your faxing processes in line with industry regulations.
  5. You can scale your faxing capacity up or down as needed—no buy-or-wait decisions needed.
  6. Your staff will have access to a full-featured faxing program from their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, so they can respond quickly to incoming faxes.
  7. Your employees will be delighted when you take away their clunky and high maintenance fax processes and replace them with the ability to receive, review, edit, sign, and send digital faxes from an email, a website, or their phone, while reducing their technology footprint. 

Choosing a cloud fax provider

There are dozens of cloud fax companies, but they’re not all the same. Consensus Cloud Solutions, provider of eFax Corporate, is the world’s largest and most experienced global cloud fax provider. Here’s why you should look into eFax Corporate:

Experience. Building a highly robust cloud fax infrastructure isn’t easy, and it’s expensive. eFax Corporate has been serving businesses continuously for more than 25 years and has invested millions in building an enterprise-caliber cloud faxing infrastructure that’s secure and reliable.

Cloud native. Most faxing platforms use the vendor’s private data centers (or a combination of those and the public cloud). These solutions are difficult and time-consuming to manage. eFax Corporate was purpose-built for the cloud, so it scales quickly, has robust redundancy, and performs better than any other cloud fax platform. 

Large network. eFax Corporate has built the world’s largest cloud fax network to establish economies of scale no other provider can match. This means a more cost-effective solution for our customers.

Full AWS integration. eFax Corporate is the only cloud fax solution fully integrated into Amazon Web Services’ Cloud. By leveraging Amazon’s reliability, scalability, efficiency, and systems uptime, we can provide the industry’s best disaster recovery, fastest fax delivery times, and the lowest cost in the market.


If your company is stuck with outdated processes like on-prem faxing or even hybrid faxing for the foreseeable future, think about moving to the cloud. eFax Corporate can lower your costs, free up IT for more important projects, and make your
employees happy.

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Why HITRUST CSF Certification Should Factor into Your Selection of a Cloud Fax Provider

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If your company is a covered entity or business associate in the healthcare industry, you know the ever-growing threat that cybercriminals pose to your patients’ data—and to your company’s HIPAA compliance.

To cite just one example, according to a study reported in HealthCare IT Security, 93% of healthcare organizations suffered a data breach in the last three years. Worse, the same study found that 96% of healthcare security professionals believe their organizations are not technologically equipped to keep pace with hackers’ increasing numbers and sophistication.


Cybercrime Is Evolving, and Your Cybersecurity Needs to Evolve With it

Question: If cybercriminals are becoming more numerous and their methods more advanced, can you afford to allow any aspect of your company’s cybersecurity to remain static?

We believe the answer is clearly no. This is why when selecting any digital service your employees will be using to handle patients’ data—including a cloud fax solution—you should search only for vendors that are working continuously to stay ahead of these risks.


HITRUST CSF® Certification Demonstrates Your Vendor Is Always Working to Prevent the Next Threat

For healthcare entities like yours, one way to find the technology services that are best equipped to deal with cyber threats is to look for those built by companies that have earned HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) certification.

As we’ve noted previously here on the eFax Corporate® blog, HITRUST CSF certification is considered the gold-standard framework for compliance and security in healthcare IT.

This is partly because the framework incorporates key elements of internationally accepted data standards, such as those from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the agency whose security guidelines the US Department of Defense follows for protecting its own data. HITRUST CSF also incorporates the major elements of the most stringent data standards such as PCI, ISO, HITECH and, most relevant here, HIPAA.

But there is another reason HITRUST CSF certification has gained such credibility among healthcare entities and payers. (According to Healthcare Weekly, more than 90 healthcare insurers now require their partners to become HITRUST certified.)

These payers understand that electronic protected health information (ePHI) is among the most attractive types of data to cybercriminals. They know that hackers grow in number each year and that they keep finding creative new ways to attack the networks of covered entities and business associates. And they know that most technology vendors aren’t able to keep up with these security threats.

An important benefit of the HITRUST framework is that is flexible and always evolving to meet new challenges. To attain this certification, an organization must show that its technology and practices are able to quickly adapt to new threats and overcome them.

With that in mind, among all of the other reasons to look only for solutions backed by HITRUST-certified companies, the most important might be this:

HITRUST CSF certification demonstrates the vendor is continually evolving and updating its technology to deal with changes in both healthcare regulations and cybercriminals’ behavior.


The First Major Cloud Fax Provider to Earn HITRUST CSF Certification

Considering how many faxes your organization likely sends and receives—and how many of those contain ePHI—you can see why HIPAA compliance and security should be among your top priorities when selecting the right cloud fax solution.

That should make the decision easy, because eFax Corporate is the first major cloud fax provider to earn HITRUST CSF certification.

Our enterprise-caliber Digital Cloud Fax Technology (DCFT) solutions have been protecting healthcare organizations’ highly sensitive and regulated data for more than 20 years. Attaining this new HITRUST certification is only our most recent demonstration of eFax Corporate’s commitment to provide the most secure, HIPAA-compliant cloud fax platform for covered entities like yours.

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