Cheapest Way to Fax From Home

By Andy Warycka

Fax modems and online faxing services have replaced the dedicated fax machine for home users.
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It used to be that sending faxes from home required dedicated phone lines and expensive fax machines. While these days faxing is on the decline, there is still the need to fax a document once in a while. You can send faxes from home without having to run out and buy equipment, with costs as low as a few pennies per page -- or even free. Choosing the right option depends on what equipment you already have and how often you need to send faxes.

Printer Possibilities

You may have a fax machine in your house and not even know it. Many multifunction printers, in addition to performing scanning and copier duties, can be plugged directly into a home phone line and used to send faxes of documents by way of the device's built-in scanner. Cost depends on whether the number you are sending to is local or long distance and what calling plan you have, but faxes rarely take more than a few minutes to send, which keeps costs down.

Fax Directly From Your Computer

If your computer has a built-in fax modem and you have an analog telephone line, you can use your computer as a fax machine. Set up your fax modem with the Windows Fax and Scan tool found in the Start menu under All Programs. If the document is already saved as a file on your computer, you can simply click "New Fax" from the tool and send the document. If you need to fax a paper document, you need to use a scanner to create a digital file first. Costs per fax are the same as using a multifunction printer with a fax machine built in.

Using a Web Service

Fewer computers today have fax modems than in the past, but this doesn't mean you need to buy any new hardware if you are sending digital documents or already have a scanner. There are several web-based services that allow you to send faxes over the Internet. InterFAX allows you to send faxes directly from your computer or from Google Documents, with prepaid packages starting at $10. and MyFax offer similar features, also around the $10 range for a prepaid package.

Alternatives to Faxing

If you've been requested to send a document via fax, it never hurts to ask if you can email a scanned file instead. Many companies will accept a PDF of documents in place of a traditional fax, which can be created by scanning the original paper document and using the scanner software to generate a PDF. If you already own a scanner, the cost is essentially free.