I recently bought a new fax machine for my home office. I also maintain a separate phone number as my fax line. While the phone line needs...

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I recently bought a new fax machine for my home office.

I also maintain a separate phone number as my fax line. While the phone line needs to only be a basic service line, there’s still the monthly line charge along with long-distance charges for all of my out-of-area outgoing faxes.

Plus there’s the cost of disposables like special inkjet paper and the ink cartridges that always seem to run out of ink at the most inconvenient time.

Add everything up, and I discover I’m paying some hefty dollars for the luxury of maintaining a fax machine.

And then there are some other annoyances such as the physical machine itself. It takes up valuable space in my home office. It’s plugged in, which means there’s another power cord I have to deal with.

And the noise

When a fax arrives, it’s another annoying phone-ringing sound, and the noise it makes printing the fax is disconcerting, since mine is on a shelf a foot away from my left ear.

There has to be a better way.

MyFax is an Internet fax service that lets you send and receive faxes via your Internet connection, but it lets you do it in much the same way as you would send and receive e-mail.

You can set up a MyFax account in a few minutes at www.myfax.com and, once it’s set up, you can immediately begin to fax.

MyFax is inexpensive compared to an ordinary fax machine. For starters, you really don’t have any of the faxing overhead I mentioned. There’s no fax machine with the cost of all of its disposables, no long-distance telephone charges and no second phone line.

MyFax assigns you a toll-free MyFax Internet fax number, which you can give out to everyone. Using it, your clients never pay long-distance charges to fax you.

In this competitive business world, free faxing to you gives you an edge right out of the gate. Plus, the toll-free number you get costs you nothing.

Extra security

If you work in a public location, MyFax gives you a lot of extra security because your faxes don’t sit in the fax machine’s receiving tray where anyone can see them.

You also don’t have to get up to get your faxes anymore. They come to your e-mail inbox for you to read, save and print out. You decide what makes it to paper, what gets deleted and what gets saved.

To send a fax using MyFax, you simply use your normal e-mail application, but in the “To:” field, you put in the fax machine’s area and telephone number and add on the @myfax.com suffix.

Then it’s pretty much like sending any other e-mail. You fill in the subject field, add an attachment or type in the text and click Send.

But instead of being e-mailed, the subject, text and attachment are first sent to the MyFax servers, then sent over the phone lines to the receiving fax-machine number you placed in the sending field. It’s that simple.

With MyFax, your faxes aren’t subject to the many technical glitches that can occur using a regular fax machine. Your virtual fax machine is always on, too.

Even if your computer’s off, the next time you access your e-mail, you get the fax.

And a sender never gets the annoying busy signal, which can really frustrate someone trying to send you that important fax.

Typically, a sending or receiving fax machine will tie up the line for several minutes. With MyFax, your fax machine is always ready to send and receive.

MyFax costs $10 a month. Since your faxes are accessible from anywhere you have Internet access, it’s like having a fax machine wherever you go.