Fax Machine as Scanner

I don’t have a scanner and rarely need one. But I do have a fax machine. Can I somehow use that to scan, or is it time to invest in a flatbed scanner?

The MongoSCAN service might be what you’re looking for. With it, you can scan and fax to email for 25 cents per page.

MongoSCAN is a new offering from MongoNet, which for eight years has been marketing a fax-to-email enterprise service to businesses. MongoFAX (not to be confused with the character in Blazing Saddles or Flash Gordon’s home planet) has been around for eight years and recently branched out to offer the pay-per-use version that’s still in beta testing. MongoSCAN has some power players behind it: two co-founders of Adobe Systems, along with financier Charles Schwab and other tech investors.

The patented technology used for the open scanning service is different from the unified messaging service offered by most fax-to-email services. While the initial interface and followup are web-based, no computer hardware or software is required to actually send. (You will need to download and print a cover sheet from the MongoSCAN web site.)

Users scan and fax a document by feeding it into any standard, standalone fax machine along with a MongoSCAN cover sheet. Fax to the toll-free number provided by MongoSCAN, and the service automatically sends it along to the email address(es) you’ve noted. The scan soon shows up in the recipient’s email inbox as a PDF attachment (with the cover sheet as part of it), and the sender gets emailed a copy as well. Also, documents can be scanned and sent to multiple email addresses at once. Each transaction is issued a tracking number so you can return to the MongoSCAN web site to track your scan and get delivery details.

So, essentially, it’s as if you had scanned something using a flatbed scanner and PC, saved the document as a PDF and attached the PDF to an email. This can be handy if you don’t have a scanner, or if you don’t want to mess with installing software or being assigned a “fax” number as with traditional online fax services. It seems to be especially popular among real estate and life insurance agents. Some people MongoFAX all their documents to themselves and archive them on CD, doing away with paper files in many cases. Users also like the security aspect and ability to sign legal contracts and send them back and forth.

MongoFAX is commonly used for sending; if recipients want to reply to the email or fax you back, you must include the address or number on the cover sheet.

The service costs 25 cents per page, on a pay-per-use basis (no signup or membership commitment required).

You could also check out UnityFax, which bills itself partially as a remote document scanner. In fact, many fax-to-email services are set up to send PDFs as attachments, so essentially it’s like you’re scanning even if that wasn’t your intention.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.