Fax machines may have given way to email as the preferred means of sending documents but they remain widely used in many settings around the world. A staggering number of documents are faxed each year — billions, in fact. They have convenience and predictability that has seen many users reluctant to let go. That said, sending a fax can sometimes have hiccups. If you want to use fax, one of them that you will need to get used to is the inability to get through. 

When you are done preparing an important document and are finally ready to fax it, a busy signal or failed transmission can be frustrating. Fortunately, it is not an insurmountable problem and there are many ways to send the document successfully.

1. Subscribe to Cloud-Based Fax

There is no better way to solve a problem than to address it well before it even occurs. In this regard, you can get rid of your fax machine and sign up for a cloud-based fax service instead. Using fax with email service means that sending a fax is much the same as sending an email. 

When you send an email to an address such as Gmail or Yahoo, you will not get a busy signal. Even if the recipient is offline or away from their device at the time of transmission, the email will still be delivered to their inbox, waiting for the recipient when they reconnect. 

Cloud-based fax services work the same. Busy fax signals become a thing of the past. If the other party is using a cloud-based fax service as well, delivery occurs in real-time. If they are using a fax machine that is offline or busy at the time, the cloud-based fax service will keep trying until it can make a successful connection, freeing you up to complete other tasks.

2. Confirm You Have the Right Number

Check and confirm that you are dialing the right number. It is quite possible that you are attempting to send the fax to the wrong fax number. That number you are dialing may be ringing at someone’s home instead. Or, perhaps you were the victim of the classic fat finger problem. In the process of dialing the correct number, you pressed the wrong button. 

If you have any document or communication from the recipient indicating their fax number, take a look at it and compare it with what you have on the fax display.

3. Call Recipient for Fax Number

Just because a fax number was correct and in use yesterday does not necessarily mean that will be the case today. Call the recipient and confirm the fax number you have is still the right one. If it is, find out if they have another fax number you could try if you continue experiencing difficulty getting through the primary one. 

The recipient may also be able to check whether there is a problem with the fax machine itself on their end. Someone may have left the machine off the hook or another technical glitch has caused a problem. The other party may also tell you to prepare to send the document as they stand at the fax machine.

4. Check if the Recipient Fax Memory Is Full

Many fax machines have limited internal memory. This is where incoming fax jobs are stored as they wait for the paper to be loaded. If too many jobs are received without getting printed, the limited memory could reach its capacity. With that, the fax machine will not be able to receive any new incoming transmissions. 

Someone at the recipient’s end has to load the machine with paper so the faxes in memory can be printed and make room for new faxes, such as yours.

5. Redial

A fax machine works just like a telephone. Maybe at the exact time, you were calling, the line was busy, which is usually a temporary problem. In any case, some organizations use the same line for making calls as they do for sending or receiving faxes. In large organizations and certain industries, the fax machine can be quite busy on some days with almost all back-to-back documents being received. They may also receive single fax running into the dozens or hundreds of pages. All of these potential problems can make it harder to get through.

If you have the right number, redial it several times. Many fax machines will automatically redial three or more times if the first call is unsuccessful. Some will allow you to adjust this number upwards in the settings. If the automated redials fail, the fax machine prints out an error. You can take it further and redial manually after every 10 minutes or so. It should not be long before you get through.

6. Send Outside Business Hours

If you are sending fax during business hours, you are in competition with a much higher number of senders than you would if you sent the fax much earlier or later. To avoid the fax traffic jam, you could try sending the fax late at night or very early in the morning instead. 

Some fax machines allow you to schedule fax for a specific time. In that case, you do not even have to be present to send it. Once the set time comes, the fax machine will dial and send it for you.

7. Use Alternative Means

At some point, you have to get back to the basics and think about what you are trying to achieve. The fax is, after all, not an end in itself but a means to an end. If the faxing is not working out despite your attempts at troubleshooting, then maybe you should seek alternative means of sending the document. 

Find out from the recipient what another way you can send the document. An email will naturally be your first choice. Scan and attach the document to the message before sending it. If email is not acceptable, you may weigh other options such as courier service or snail mail.

If at First, You Don’t Succeed, Try Again

You will not always get through a fax line when you want to. Use these tips to increase your chances of relaying the document to the recipient in a timely fashion.

Also Read: Sending and Receiving Fax: What’s The Best Option?