A client asked me recently about fax programs. Not a topic I have spent a lot of time on, so I thought it was worth investigating. Based on what is available, one has to conclude that faxing is dying, being replaced by sending attachments via email.
The program I use, WinFax Pro, has not been updated since 2000. And while it still works fine (on Windows XP at least), it doesn’t even seem to be available from Symantec any more. So scratch that.
At the high end, programs like RightFax (OpenText) are a totally different animal, designed to send hundreds or thousands of faxes using multiple linked fax lines. But that is not relevant to smaller firms.
There are a bunch of Internet-based fax programs, which work pretty much the same way: you email a “fax” to a fax number. That either comes out as a fax to an actual fax machine, or is transmitted to another email address using an Internet “fax number.”
These programs, such as jfax (now jconnect), efax, myfax, maxemail or rapidfax, all work about the same. For a fixed monthly fee of $10-20, you get a fixed number of pages (approximately 100-200 outbound and 100-300 inbound. Above that, there is a per-page charge of $.10-.15 per page. So, just like the cell phone model if you exceed your alloted number of minutes/pages, it can get very expensive. Most of these programs (again, like cell phones) give you a higher number of pages for a higher monthly charge. So the trick lies in figuring out exactly what your usage is.
If you are a smaller firm doing a minimal amount of faxing, these programs make sense. However, if you do a lot of faxing then a dedicated fax machine may make sense. Newer models, or multi-function machines will let you fax from the desktop, which gives you the advantage of simplicity (and better quality since there is less image degradation).