Online Fax Vs E-Mail: How Are They Different?

As we navigate the dynamic realm of digital communication, it becomes increasingly evident that effective information exchange is the lifeblood of business, collaboration, and maintaining connections. There are two prominent methods of digital communication: online fax and e-mail. While both serve the purpose of sharing documents and data, they have distinct features and usage scenarios.

This article will delve into the differences between online fax and e-mail, helping you determine which communication method best suits your needs.

Online Fax: A Modern Take On A Traditional Technology

Although faxing may seem like a relic from the past, it has evolved and adapted to the digital age. Choosing to fax online with eFax and other online fax services allows you to send and receive faxes through the internet. This method eliminates the need for a physical fax machine, phone line, or paper. Instead, users can send faxes from their computers or smartphones, making the process more convenient and environmentally friendly.

fax vs emails

E-Mail: The Ubiquitous Communication Tool

E-mail is the most common method of digital communication today, used by billions of people worldwide for personal and professional purposes. It allows users to send messages, documents, and multimedia files to one another quickly and efficiently. E-mail is widely accessible, with most people using it through web-based e-mail platforms or dedicated desktop and mobile applications.

How Online Fax And E-Mail Differ

To make an informed decision about which communication medium best aligns with your personal or professional goals, here are the key differences between online fax and e-mail:

  • Security And Privacy: One of the significant differences between online fax and e-mail is their level of security and privacy. Online fax services use secure transmission protocols that encrypt the data during the entire process. This level of security is invaluable for businesses that must comply with strict data protection regulations.

In contrast, e-mail is not inherently secure. Although some e-mail providers offer encryption, the protection varies between services, and many users are unaware of the available security features. As a result, e-mails are more susceptible to hacking, phishing, and other cybersecurity threats.

  • File Formats: Online fax services transmit documents as images, usually in Tag Image file format (TIFF) or portable document format (PDF). This means that recipients can view the faxed documents without needing specific software to open them. However, this also means these documents are not easily editable once received.

E-mail attachments, on the other hand, can come in various formats, including Word, Excel, and more. These formats are often editable, allowing recipients to make changes and collaborate on documents more efficiently.

  • Delivery Confirmation: Online fax services typically provide delivery confirmation, notifying the sender when the recipient has successfully received the fax. This feature ensures that sensitive documents reach their intended recipients and can be crucial for legal or medical purposes.

E-mails, however, don’t usually come with delivery confirmation. While some e-mail clients offer read receipts, these can be disabled by the recipient and are not as reliable as the confirmation provided by online fax services.

  • Legal Acceptance: In some industries and situations, faxes are considered more legally binding than e-mails. For instance, in real estate transactions, faxed signatures are often deemed more legitimate than those sent via e-mail. This is because faxes are harder to tamper with, providing a higher level of authenticity and security.
  • Accessibility: E-mail requires an internet connection to send and receive messages. In contrast, online fax services can send faxes to both internet-based and traditional fax machines, making them more accessible to recipients who may not have access to e-mail or a stable internet connection.
  • Learning Curve: E-mail has become second nature for most people, thanks to its widespread adoption and user-friendly interfaces. Both web-based platforms and dedicated applications have made composing, sending, and organizing e-mails relatively simple.

Online fax services, while easy to use, may require a brief adjustment period for users who are new to the concept. However, once familiarized with the process, sending and receiving faxes online can be just as seamless as e-mail, particularly when using reputable services.

  • Organization And Archiving: E-mail clients offer a variety of tools for organizing and archiving messages, such as folders, labels, and search functions. This makes it simple for users to keep track of their correspondence and locate specific e-mails when needed.

Online fax services also provide archiving features, allowing users to store, search, and access sent and received faxes. However, the organization options may be less extensive than e-mail, depending on the chosen fax service.

  • Cost Efficiency: E-mail is generally a cost-effective communication method, with many providers offering free or low-cost services. For businesses, expenses related to e-mail typically stem from productivity software subscriptions.

Online fax services, on the other hand, usually involve subscription fees. However, these costs are often offset by eliminating the need for dedicated phone lines, fax machines, and consumables like paper and ink. Additionally, some businesses may find the enhanced security and legal benefits of online faxing justify the added expense.

  • Environmental Impact: E-mail is considered an environmentally friendly communication method, as it is entirely paperless and consumes minimal resources. However, it is crucial to note that the energy used to power data centers and devices does contribute to an environmental footprint.

Online fax services have significantly reduced the environmental impact of traditional faxing by eliminating the need for paper, ink, and additional hardware. Nevertheless, as with e-mail, the energy consumption of data centers and devices should be taken into account.

When choosing between online fax and e-mail, consider your specific needs and priorities. If security and legal compliance are of utmost importance, online fax may be the better option. However, if accessibility and collaboration are your primary concerns, e-mail is likely the more suitable choice.


Online fax services boast enhanced security, reliable delivery confirmation, and superior legal acceptance, making them an invaluable asset for businesses and industries requiring secure document transmission and adherence to strict regulations. In contrast, e-mail emerges as a more versatile and accessible medium for day-to-day communication, effortlessly enabling document collaboration and sharing across a wide array of file formats. 

A thorough understanding of the nuances between online fax and e-mail is instrumental in making an informed choice for the most suitable communication method tailored to your personal or professional requirements. As the technological landscape perpetually advances, staying abreast of these changes and adapting to the dynamic world of digital communication is paramount.