Test Your Faxing IQ

Before e-mailing, before instant messaging and before texting, there was faxing. At one time it was THE way to transmit important documents quickly from one location to another. While it’s common to think that faxing has gone the way of the typewriter, the truth is faxing is still very much alive. In fact, it’s a big part of many industries and even required by some.

So to make sure you have the most current information – and a good store of knowledge should you appear as a contestant on Jeopardy! and the Daily Double is a fax-related question – we offer the following quiz. The answers appear at the end of the article so you can tally your score.

Q1. Faxing was invented in:

A. 1843
B. 1945
C. 1972
D. 1984

Q2. The amount of money spent on faxing the last few years has:

A. Increased
B. Decreased
C. Remained the same

Q3. Faxes are still widely used in which of the following industries:

A. Construction
B. Health care
C. Real estate
D. Law/legal
E. All of the above

Q4. According to HIPAA laws, health care providers can transmit confidential patient information via either e-mail or fax:

A. True
B. False

Q5. Fax machines and Internet fax services offer equal levels of privacy and security:

A. True
B. False

Q6. The number of trees that could be saved each year by delivering just 1 percent of paper faxes in America as electronic documents is:

A. 15 million
B. 27.2 million
C. 52.5 million
D. 73.5 million

Q7. Some advantages of an Internet fax service over a fax machine are:

A. No need to go back to the office to read faxes
B. Internet fax accounts never have busy signals on inbound faxes
C. Because they’re electronic, faxes can travel more easily
D. Only A and C
E. All of the above

Q8. The monthly cost for an Internet fax service is roughly the same as using a fax machine.

A. True
B. False

(Answers on next page.)


A1. The correct answer is A, 1843. Surprised? The technology didn’t really become common in offices until the mid-1980s, but the basic concept was patented more than 150 years prior by Alexander Bain. The device he used was quite a monstrosity and had a cattle jawbone as one of the moving parts. That’s a far cry from today’s Internet fax service, which allows you to send and receive faxes anywhere you can get an Internet connection.

A2. The correct answer is A. If you guessed B you’d be in good company, but wrong. The truth is the dollar volume spent on faxing has grown steadily over the last few years, and is projected to continue doing so. That’s why it’s important for small businesses to be sure they have a reliable and cost-effective fax solution in place.

A3. The correct answer is E, All of the above. In fact, it is the primary method of data exchange in the construction, and is used on a daily basis in real estate and health care. In addition, lawyers use faxes for documents that require signatures. Other heavy fax users include insurance brokers and companies, private investigators, truckers, bankers and salespeople. These users rapidly are moving away from fax machines to Internet fax services since they provide greater mobility and convenience at a far lower cost.

A4. The correct answer is B, False. HIPAA laws do not allow patient information to be transmitted via e-mail because it is considered too insecure, i.e. e-mail can be intercepted or misdirected too easily. Faxes, however, are immune to this type of interception by the nature of how they are transmitted. Internet fax services that provide 128-bit encryption provide an additional level of security for the confidential documents.

A5. Again, the answer is B, False. Fax machines generally sit in common areas, where anyone walking by can pick up and look at the information that’s been printed. An Internet fax service, on the other hand, delivers the fax electronically to the intended recipient’s e-mail address and/or a secure online server that is password-protected.

A6. The correct answer is D, 73.5 million. That’s the number of trees that could be saved by reducing paper faxes by just 1 percent in one country. In addition, moving from fax machines to an Internet fax service would save energy. (A fax machine consumes more energy than any other office equipment according to ENERGY STAR) and cut down on the waste stream by eliminating the need to dispose of the machine, toner containers and wasted paper. An Internet fax service can help on several levels to create a greener office environment.

A7. The correct answer is E, All of the above. Since Internet fax services are tied to an e-mail account, users can receive faxes anywhere they can get e-mail. That also means users can store faxes on their laptop or other device so they’re always handy. And if multiple people send faxes at one time, the Internet fax service will never return a busy signal. Users receive all faxes promptly.

A8. The correct answer is B, False. The monthly cost for an Internet fax service actually is a lot less than a fax machine. With a fax machine there is the cost of the machine, plus a dedicated phone line, toner, paper and electricity. The only cost for an Internet fax service is the service itself. While the exact amount can vary by the service, it’s pennies per day for 24x7x365 access to important faxes.


So how did you score? 7-8 correct: You are a faxing genius! 5-6 correct: You’re smarter than the average bear when it comes to faxes. 3-4 correct: You need to bone up a bit before the mid-term. 1-2 correct: Your old VCR is probably still flashing 12:00.

Steve Adams is vice president of marketing for Protus, a provider of communications tools for small-to-medium-businesses and enterprise organizations, including Internet fax, virtual phone and e-mail marketing solutions. He can be reached at

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