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Which is faster, fax or email?

Which is Faster – Fax vs Email?

Which is faster, fax or email?

Once upon a time, fax machines were the sole means of communicating in office settings. The history of faxing has taken some turns since those days – and even though the technology has evolved from the patented unit made by Alexander Bain, there is no denying that fax machines have maintained a slight vintage charm.

What is a Fax?

A fax, otherwise known as facsimile or telecopying, can be referred to as a telephonic transmission of images or texts. The scanned printed material is meant to reach a telephone number on either a printer or an output device.

It works by you scanning an original document with a fax machine. Afterwards, the contents – either an image or a text – are converted into a bitmap or as a fixed image. When speaking about the digital form, the data is transmitted as electrical signals through the telephone.

On the receiver’s side of things, the machine converts the image – which is coded – and gives you a paper version of the document.

What is an Email?

The invention of emails has revolutionized the world of communication as we know it. The best part: emails can be quickly distributed to a large selection of people simultaneously. This shared distribution is managed through the use of an email reflector.

In some situations, a mailing list can allow you to subscribe by merely asking the administrator. That said, automatically administered mailing lists are called a list server.

Which is Faster? Fax or Email?

So which is it? Is faxing faster or is email faster?

Although conventional fax machines are typically slower, there are faster transmission technologies available these days. Unlike traditional fax machines, an online fax service will not show any signs of a fax being received until all the pages you’re trying to send have been processed and received on the other end.

This means, for example, that if you were to post a 15-page document, you must be willing to wait until the fax service has completed. With no indication of when the fax will arrive, that may require some extra patience.

Of course, in those instanced where you are required to send a fax, the online option means no longer having to own a fax machine or visit a store to get the job done – which means serious time savings.

How much information you have on the page will also affect the overall time taken for the fax to complete. For example, should you be receiving a document of 5 pages and only text, it should take much less than 5 pages filled with images or sophisticated drawings. With faxes, when the recipient is unavailable or busy, you will need to wait at least 5 minutes before trying again.

By contrast, emails will be sent regardless of whether the recipient is busy composing or reading another email. In fact, the overall speed is much faster, even when sending a document containing multiple images or elaborate drawings. Mail failures will also appear instantaneously, letting you know that the email address is incorrect.

As many of you already know, an email takes a couple of seconds, or up to a couple of minutes – depending on your internet connectivity and speed. However, the downside relates to sending specific size files. While there are additional applications and alternatives (i.e., Dropbox), it will ultimately depend on your needs.

It can seem maddening that in a world in which we rely on our smartphones for almost everything, we are still wholly dependent on what some would call a lost ancient ritual – scanning paper. The entire process is needed, yet the means of achieving it have not much improved in the past years.

It’s safe to say this, especially because we still have to connect with a remote modem at speeds that might fall to 9,600bps or lower. Afterwards, we can transmit our message, one line or pictures at a time, to a printer outside our field of vision.


Long before the age of smartphones and emails, the fax machine remained the primary means of efficiently communicating from one company to the other. The ability to send a copy of information from A to B using a telephone line once seemed speedy and innovative. However, these days, the allure of emails has taken over – as they’re faster and more efficient than the alternative. That said, the fax machine is unlikely to become obsolete any time soon as it has its advantages as well.