How Long Does Fax Take? Can I Confirm It Was Received?


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The fax machine has stood the test of time and is still used in various industries for transmitting documents from one location to another. If you’re considering using this technology for your business needs, you may have some questions about how quickly the whole process takes.

On average, it takes about one minute each page for a fax to be sent and received. This varies depending on certain factors, but a good rule of thumb is to expect the number of minutes to equal the number of pages you’ll be sending or receiving. That’s one page per minute.

And you won’t have to sit around waiting for a manual delivery confirmation since most modern fax machines will automatically generate a report or email that states that the document was successfully sent.

While these are good general guidelines, there are plenty of other helpful details that can help you feel more confident working with a fax machine.

From understanding the basic faxing process to common problems and how to troubleshoot them, we’ll cover it all.

Breaking Down How Long a Fax Takes

To really understand how long a fax takes, it’s important to understand the nuts and bolts that go into getting your document into someone else’s hands. So here are the basics of fax transmission and how long each step generally takes:

Each step of the faxing process

While there’s a bit more nuance involved, here are the five general steps that most faxes take to get from point A to point B:

  1. First, a document is scanned into the system by the machine. This scan is then converted into a digital format. (Takes a few seconds to a couple of minutes)
  2. The digital information is then once more translated into audio tones (beeps and tones) and then sent over a phone line. (Happens nearly instantaneously)
  3. The audio signals are sent through a phone line and received by the recipient’s fax machine. (Takes, on average, one minute)
  4. The receiving machine analyzes and decodes the audio tones, translating them back into digital data. (Happens nearly instantaneously)
  5. The fax machine then prints the document as dictated by the digital data (Takes about a minute or two)

Step three, where the signal is sent from one physical destination to another, is typically the longest part of the faxing process. With modern machines and a good understanding of faxing fundamentals, most of the other steps will only take a few seconds.

What Makes a Fax Take Longer to Send?

Have you noticed your fax machine isn’t working as quickly as you’d like? There could be a few reasons for this:

Age and quality of the fax machine

Older fax machines may not have the same processing power as newer models, which can slow down the scanning and encoding process. Additionally, if the machine is in poor condition or has not been properly maintained, it could cause further delays.

Here are some common aging-related issues that can slow down a fax machine:

  • Wear and tear of mechanical parts
  • Outdated technology and software that can’t send faxes efficiently
  • Dust and grime that become trapped in the machine and reduce its functionality
  • Compatibility issues with computers, phones, and other fax machines

Not only can an old and poor-quality fax machine slow things down, but it may also result in lower-quality faxes and more errors.

Complexity of the document

Documents with a lot of fine details, a bunch of images, or complex layouts will take longer to scan and transmit than simple text documents. This is because it takes time for the fax machine to convert all the details into a digital format that can be sent over a phone line.

This requires more data, and consequently, will take more time.

The quality of your phone line

If your phone line has sound quality issues, it can affect the speed at which your fax is sent and received. This is because the audio tones used in fax transmission may not be properly decoded if there is interference or noise on the line.

Internet connection for online fax services

The best VoIP phone services often offer faxing capabilities. But sometimes the quality of your internet connection can affect how quickly a document can be transmitted. If you’re using an online fax service but are in an area with unstable or slow internet, you may experience delays.

You may also experience a slowdown if your service provider is having server issues, such as maintenance or a large influx of traffic.

How to Confirm a Fax Was Received

When you send a fax, you’ll most likely receive a confirmation page. This is usually the default setting, so you shouldn’t need to adjust any settings in order to receive a confirmation. But in the case that it doesn’t generate, you can access the settings on your fax machine to ensure that you receive one.

A fax confirmation page will typically share the following details:

  • The date and time the fax was received
  • How many pages were successfully transmitted
  • Any error messages that may have been encountered during transmission

In some cases, the confirmation page may not be generated due to a paper jam or other problem with the receiving machine. If this happens, it’s best to contact the recipient directly to confirm if they received your fax.

What about fax logs?

Fax logs keep track of all of your fax communications. This historical record is useful for those who want an overview of their sent and received messages, need an official confirmation report, or want to troubleshoot an issue with the fax machine.

Traditional fax services store fax logs in the memory of your machine, while online fax services have a digital log that can be accessed from anywhere. Your fax machine’s manual or your fax service’s online knowledge base will be able to specifically direct you on how to access your fax logs.

Modern technology has also opened up a few different ways to track your faxes:

  • Through email notifications
  • With real-time tracking
  • In your online fax folder
  • With regularly submitted delivery reports (daily, weekly, or monthly)

And when in doubt, you can contact the manufacturer or customer service team for specific support with your fax logs.

Quick Fax Troubleshooting Tips

It can be frustrating when your fax machine or fax service doesn’t work as expected. Here are a few helpful tips for resolving common fax issues:

I’m getting a busy signal or no answer

Sometimes, the receiving machine may be busy or temporarily unavailable. This is usually because the line isn’t open or they’re already receiving another fax. Wait about 5 minutes and try submitting the document again. If that doesn’t work, wait an hour.

If the problem continues, contact the recipient, confirm their fax number, and check in with them to make sure their machine is functioning.

My fax machine is giving me an error message

Error messages can mean a lot of things. It could indicate a paper jam, connection issues, low ink levels, or a busy signal. When you receive an error message, it may come with an error code. This is a series of numbers or letters that can provide insight into why the error occurred.

Look up the error code in your fax machine’s manual, or search for it online. Then, read and take the specific recommended steps to resolve the issue.

My fax came out blurry or with missing text/images

This issue is usually due to one of two factors. You may be using a poor-quality document that is difficult to scan, which happens when a document has been copied several times or is warped.

If you’re using a high-quality document, the issue may be with the machine itself. Some factors that may affect the quality of your fax include the ink levels, the quality of the phone line, and the condition of your machine.

Check your ink levels and replace them if necessary. Ensure that there are no issues with your phone line, such as noise or interference. And make sure that your machine is properly maintained. Clean it regularly and have it serviced if needed.

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