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Should you bother getting a fax machine for your home office?

If you're setting up a home office and you want it to be high-tech and energy-efficient, you may be considering what kind of fax machine to invest in. Fax machines aren't obsolete -- plenty of people still use them -- but there are other options to explore before you make a final decision.

A computer and high-speed Internet connection are essential for a home office. Other equipment depends on your line of work, the volume of faxes you expect to send and receive, and your photocopying and printing needs. You also should consider space restrictions and other equipment that you already have at home. You might want to go wireless and install a wireless network that will work from all the computers in the house. New fax machines function as all-in-one units for your office needs: In addition to sending and receiving faxes, they can copy, print and scan documents and photos. This multipurpose piece of equipment saves space and is cost-effective.

After you evaluate your home office needs and your budget, you may decide to look for alternatives to a traditional fax machine. There are Internet-based options for sending and receiving faxes without the need for a land line, paper or ink. You can use your e-mail to send faxes to a fax number or through a Web site set up for this purpose. Internet options enable you to receive faxes to your e-mail, as well. These service providers usually charge monthly fees that vary from site to site, so compare prices and plans for outgoing and incoming faxes.