What Does Polling Mean in Faxing?

By Elizabeth Vest

Updated September 26, 2017

Businesses use fax polling to send scheduled information.
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Fax polling involves communication between two fax machines to request and send documents. It is a commonly used business tool.


Also known as "fax on demand," fax polling allows one fax machine to call another fax machine to request stored documents. These documents can be requested as needed or scheduled in advance to be retrieved at regular intervals.


Documents are scanned and stored on a fax machine in a numbered or coded sequence that allows another fax machine to retrieve one of the documents by calling and requesting that document by its number or code. Both fax machines must be on for fax polling to work. Documents also can be retrieved by telephone request in the case of on-demand fax services, allowing businesses to send schedules, archived documents and other useful information.


Polling can be used to send documents during off-peak business hours when fax machine usage is lower and calling rates may be less expensive. The feature is handy for sending large documents that normally may tie up an office fax machine for prolonged periods and for documents that are frequently scheduled to be sent at regular intervals, such as daily sales reports. Fax polling transactions are also secure because the sending machine can distinguish which requesting machine is authorized to receive information. This is unlike email, which is often accessible to the public.