Negative Effects of the Fax Machine

A fax machine can be part of a printer unit.
A fax machine can be part of a printer unit. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

If you have been to an office you have most likely seen a fax machine. This device transmits documents over a traditional phone line. The user first has to enter the number, wait for the dial tone and the machine will then scan the document and transmit it to another fax machine. Some fax machines are all-in-one machines which include printer, scanner and fax functions in the same device.

Not Green

For an environmentally aware office or individual that is trying to "go green," a traditional paper-based fax machine will not assist that transition. In order for a paper-based fax machine to receive a document it must print a document. Often documents can have one line or be junk mail faxes that waste paper. Fax machines do not allow users to preview a fax before receiving it; therefore the fax machine has to waste paper in order to print every fax it receives. Fax machines generate waste as well. This includes wasted paper from junk mail, but also wasted toner and ink cartridges that have to be disposed of. An exception to this issue would be digital fax machines; these devices allow users to send and receive faxes as electronic documents that can be downloaded to a computer and read on-screen as opposed to printed on paper.


A fax machine relies on a phone line in order to send and receive documents. In the event that the fax machine on the receiving end has a busy signal, a fax machine will try to redial the number or simply hang up. This will require the user to redial the number and try again at a later time. If there are power outages, down phone lines or the receiving fax machine has a paper jam, your document may not get faxed, and often you will not be aware there is a problem until your intended recipient informs you that he did not receive it.


Most fax machines are incapable of sending multiple faxes at the same time; this is time-consuming for individuals that need to fax documents to several offices for the same client or project. This will also waste resources and money for the company that is paying an individual to stand over the fax machine and constantly re-enter phone numbers and feed documents.

Junk Mail and Spam

A fax machine receives junk mail or spam mail just like an email inbox. Telemarketers gather fax numbers from directories and will fax over flyers and advertisements through your fax machine directly. There is no way to block these transmissions or use junk mail filters like an email account. Therefore traditional fax machines are prone to excessive junk mail faxes that waste time, paper and resources.

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