January 14, 2019 | Matt Gerchow Fax machines have been one of the most consistent and functional ways for people to share documents since early on in the telecommunications industry. The earliest versions of the fax machine emerged in the late 1840s and the device has remained integral to business and personal communications through every generation since. Today's fax machines are made to keep pace with our gadget and web-obsessed lives and with products like fax from Google, the fax machine remains as relevant as ever.In this article we'll discuss some different faxing options in 2019 and why the fax is still a vital piece of telecommunication. We'll give a brief history of how the fax became such a useful tool for our daily lives and also break down the many ways in which faxes are still used today. We will also share some current methods for online faxing, specifically sending a fax from Google.“Telefacsimile”: A Brief HistorySo what exactly is a fax and what does the name mean? In the simplest terms, a fax is a way to send reproduced documents from one person to another. The name fax is a shortened version of “facsimile,” which is defined as “an exact copy, especially of written or printed material.” The first fax machine was developed in 1843 by a Scottish inventor and used telegraph cables and specialized printers to create reproduced images of documents.The first wireless fax machines arrived in 1924 when RCA created a machine to send President Calvin Coolidge's signature from New York to London. That was the first known reproduction of an image through radio frequency technology and led the way for what become the first-ever commercial fax machines. In 1964 Xerox gained the patents for the first fax machines used widely in business and sold commercially. Many of the technologies in these units have carried over to products like fax for Google and the home fax machines available for personal use.Why Should You Continue to Fax Information in 2019?A recent study of nearly 500,000 IT industry professionals conducted by the firm Spiceworks found that nearly 90 percent of small and medium-sized business still use fax machines. Nearly 70 percent of IT pros also said they support the use of physical fax machines compared with digital documents alone. But in the age of all things digital, it is fair to ask why anyone would still need to send a fax.Ten Key Reasons Why Fax Thrives In 2019There are a few obvious answers like the fact that eventually digital hard drives wear out and paper documents are fairly durable when properly stored. There are also some less obvious reasons why many businesses still opt for products like fax from Google coupled with physical fax machines:Fax machines have been integral to the infrastructures of global business for generations and many workers are more comfortable faxing than emailing.In some industries, especially those with sensitive documents, fax remains a standard for document transfers.Industries with strict records keeping laws are often encouraged if not forced to fax documents by law.The keeping of physical records can prevent the attempted destruction of digital records in legal cases.Fax options including fax from Google often eliminate potential web viruses.When compared with physical documents transfers like couriers fax machines are still very affordable.Though many fax machines are old technology, most fall within approved compliance guidelines in most industries.Fax technology has become even more user-friendly with the addition of web-enabled devices.Many industries rely on faxed documents as physical backups for digital files.If one company or industry wants to abandon fax machines, they could get cut off from others.How Simple Is It to Fax Online?The ease of use associated with online fax services is a matter of perspective. If you've spent most your career working in an office and interfacing with traditional fax machines, then you may find online faxing convoluted. For tech-savvy workers, however, online fax options may seem simple and intuitive. No matter how you view them, there are many online fax service options available today.Nuts and BoltsOnline fax services are virtual fax machines that work similarly to traditional fax machines without the hardware. For a subscription fee of between $10 and $20 a month companies like Nextiva, eFax, MyFax, and RingCentral will provide you with a fax number and allow you to send and receive faxes directly from your email client. This is a similar service to fax from Google, but with a few differences.With these premium services there are some options that can be added or expanded for additional fees. Some of these features include sending faxes to different recipients, custom cover sheet options, changing transmission speeds, receiving multiple faxes at once, automatically receiving to a network printer, and receiving SMS text alerts when you get faxes. These premium options are geared towards businesses and could be well worth the expense when used amongst an entire team.Integration with Fax from GoogleGoogle offers a wide range of web and cloud storage services that will work side-by-side with most premium virtual fax services. When using a virtual fax service to send a fax from Google you can use the standard Google mail interface as your cover sheet. Most of the premium fax services will also connect with Google Drive to send documents as attachments.Given that most of the premium virtual fax services work very similarly to email, we think that they're a seamless way to integrate fax machine technology into today's tech. If your company is already using email, cloud storage services, and email, then it may be easier to pay for a virtual fax machine service than to maintain a fleet of traditional fax machines.How Do You Fax from Google?Sending a fax from Google is similar in many ways to simply sending an email. With Google's fax integration and a wide range of services offered through virtual fax providers, it's easy to set up and send a fax from Google.SetupThe first step required when sending a fax from Google is to have a computer that is connected to the Internet. When sending a fax from Google no phone line is required, unless you are using dial-up Internet services. Once your computer is set up and connected to the Internet, you'll need to launch your web browser or email client and connect to your Google account.The next step will be to add the HelloFax add-on for the Google suite. With HelloFax you will be able to send and receive faxes directly through your Google mail web interface. This add-on is available through the Google app marketplace and provides a simple user interface through which you can add a fax number, documents, and notes.Composing Your FaxOnce you're connected to the web and have access to your Google mail account, you can draft an email as normal. This will serve as the cover page for your fax and will allow you to specify the recipient, time, urgency, and other pertinent information. Once you have completed your cover page in the email frame, launch the HelloFax add-on. The add-on will display cells for the destination fax number and files to be added.Simply add the fax number, select files to attach, and send your fax. Depending on the recipient's setup, they will either receive the fax through traditional hardware like a regular fax or an attached printer.Receiving a Fax from GoogleThe method by which you receive a fax from Google will probably vary depending on your settings, virtual fax provider, and needs. The simplest way in which you will receive a virtual fax is in the form of an email that is formatted like a fax and can be printed from an attached printer. This may not meet recordkeeping standards in all industries and you may need to have a dedicated printer to handle all incoming faxes associated with your virtual fax number.ConclusionOne downside that we found to fax from Google is that the brand's proprietary Google Docs format is not compatible with most virtual fax systems. Google's mobile apps also frequently lack fax capabilities. This means that you'll need to send and receive a fax from Google using a full computer and will also need to convert Google Doc formatted files to PDF. This is not unique to Google, however, as Apple's iWork and the ZoHo Office Suite lack direct fax options as well.Sending and receiving a fax from Google is a simple, efficient, and intuitive way to send and receive documents in today's Cloud-based world. This technology will be especially helpful if you're a new business, freelancer, or entrepreneur that interacts heavily with document-rich industries. Even in 2019 many industries rely heavily on traditional fax machines and trying to avoid them will be a non-starter in some businesses. If you want to avoid the expenses of an antiquated technology, then using a virtual system to fax from Google could be a great choice.Matt GerchowMatt Gerchow is an author, marketer, inventor, husband, father and yoga enthusiast. He enjoys travel to distant lands , fine wine, time with his family and dinner with friends.