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Can I keep my existing fax machine and fax number when switching to a VoIP phone system?

We discuss the options for keeping your fax machine & fax number(s) when switching to a VoIP phone system at your business. When it comes to communication, there's no right or wrong way to communicate with clients. The fact of the matter is, while some folks are shying away from using faxes in favor of email, there are still plenty of people & businesses out there that rely on faxing for communication.

Being in the business of updating old phone technology for new cutting edge premise based or hosted VoIP phone systems, as part of every implementation and installation for a new client, we have to determine what to do with fax numbers.

When we tell some folks that, they panic. Many people are worried about losing their fax line, needing a new fax number, or losing their faxing capabilities all together.

We get it. Faxing can play a vital role in companies, and many rely on in their business for receiving sales orders, communicating with certain suppliers and vendors, and adhering to regulatory guidelines based on the industry (such as medical, government, or insurance industries).

Regardless of your worry or concern, you can relax easy since there are many options regarding faxing when it comes to a VoIP phone system in a business setting, meaning you'll never worry about downtime, switching phone numbers, or missing a fax should you elect to upgrade to a VoIP system.

Fax Numbers & VoIP Phone Systems

What happens to my existing fax technology if I upgrade to a VoIP system at my business?

Simply put, there are two scenarios when it comes to faxes.

You can port or migrate your fax numbers to Webfax.

It's becoming a very popular option to elect to port or migrate your fax number to a web-based fax service. The easiest definition of this service is that instead of receiving and sending faxes through a traditional fax machine, you 'send and receive' faxes on your computer using the internet.

The way it usually works is inbound faxes come in as an email to one, or multiple recipients. Conversely, you use software on your computer to send a fax outward. The person on the other end will still receive a fax through their fax machine and will never notice the difference.

There are some great benefits to using Webfax, which I think can be summarized in 4 points.

  • Get rid of an old, expensive piece of technology – No more toner, paper, drain on the electrical bill, etc., and you can free up some space in the office. Toner and paper can add up over time especially since a considerable number of faxes are Chinese food menus or other useless communication.
  • Cut costs by ditching your fax lines – Comcast, Verizon, Cablevision, etc., are all charging you a fee per line to have the availability to fax. A typical fax line can cost anywhere from $30 to $80 a month depending on carrier provider, usage and taxes. While there are still costs associated with Webfax & porting your number, it's drastically cheaper than sticking with your old technology.
  • Your staff will love you – They'll be able to send & receive a fax as long as they have an internet connection. That means faxing capability in the office, on the road, at home, at conferences, at a job-site, etc. Plus, since faxes come through email, there's no complicated process to check and see if you've received anything from clients or customers. Each staff member can have their own direct fax lines too so there is no confusion on who is receiving the fax.
  • You'll never lose a fax again – Since faxes come into your inbox, it's pretty hard to misplace or lose a fax. Additionally, faxes can be stored in a 'portal' online so you could view your faxes from a website instead of pulling up your email. Point is, your faxes will exist in a couple of places electronically, so it's pretty hard to lose a fax.

Keep your existing fax line(s) connected to the fax machine.

This certainly isn't ideal as you'll still need to pay for your existing fax line and keep your existing fax equipment. Unless you are really attached to the equipment or can't bear to part ways with your phone line provider, this isn't really a step forward.

In fact, when we upgrade folks to a new VoIP phone system at an office, folks almost always upgrade their fax capabilities as well.

But, some businesses, despite the benefits of going to Webfax, want to keep their traditional fax machine. This is usually due to the fear of changing too much technology, or the person in charge of faxes isn't an "email person". If you switch

I've heard existing fax machines can still work with a VoIP phone system?

It's possible and usually works, but it's not ideal.

If you want, it's possible to port or migrate your fax number to Webfax and still have it connect to a traditional fax machine through an "ATA", or Analog Trunk Adapter. This piece of hardware is installed in your office and converts an IP signal to an analog signal. Meaning, it takes information from the internet and converts it in a manner so your existing fax machine can understand it.

This isn't recommended because there are often “translation” issues going from various carriers to an analog fax machine.

When an incoming fax with multiple pages is transmitted, some faxes end up going through, some don't. This obviously isn't a reliable method of communication. It's not worth the inconsistency and lack of reliability to port your fax line but still keep the fax machine.

When upgrading to VoIP phone service, you can keep your fax number, but we don't recommend keeping your equipment. That's the easiest way of putting it. Keep the phone number, and ditch the old equipment. It'll be your best bet for moving forward, it's most cost effective, and it's most forward thinking.

To learn more about porting fax numbers or additional questions about how faxing works with a VoIP phone systems at a business or office contact us online, shoot me an e-mail directly at, or give me a call on my direct line at 908-378-1218.

By Vincent Finaldi
Vice-President, Tele-Data Solutions
E-mail: | Direct Line: (908) 378-1218
What brings me satisfaction is meeting with New Jersey–based businesses and genuinely helping them solve communication and business problems. As someone who has lived in New Jersey my entire life, I love working and playing here. I live in Morristown with my wife, Lisa, and root for the New York Giants.

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