Q: What is the difference between using an Internet fax service rather than a faxing modem?

A: First, we should discuss what each of these alternative faxing options is. A fax modem is a small USB device that you can plug into your computer and use to send faxes over a dial-up Internet connection. These devices can be found for as cheap as $20. An Internet fax service allows you to have a dedicated fax number through which you can send and receive faxes with any type of Internet. These online-based services are affordable and flexible, and start around $5/month.

While a one-time fee for the USB fax modem may initially seem more attractive, there are a couple of reasons why Internet fax services are not only a better value, but are more useful in general. 

- You need a dial-up connection to use the fax modem. Dial-up Internet connections are a rare breed, and for good reason. They are slower, pricier and generally less flexible. Most people use broadband, DSL or cable, not dial-up. Also, Mac users with OSX Lion and Mountain Lion  are out of luck if they want to use Apple's faxing modem, since these operating systems aren't compatible with the device.

-With Internet fax, you don't have to use your computer to fax — you can do it from your smartphone too! When you have an Internet fax account, you can fax from anywhere with an Internet connection.

If you want to learn more about Internet fax, visit our comparison chart to compare services side-by-side.

Internet Fax