There is no set limit to how many pages can be sent at one time in a fax transmission. Fax transmission standards do not have a theoretical limit to the length and size of the transmission.
There may be, however, physical limits to the ability of the receiving fax machine, fax server, or fax software.
- 30 pages would be considered a lot of pages for a fax.
- 100 pages would be considered a lot of pages for a fax sent to a large company or busy office with the equipment to properly receive a fax that large
- A fax that doesn’t successfully send the entire transmission will receive an error message.
- Be sure to mark the number of pages in the fax on the cover sheet.
Page limits with fax machines
A fax machine is limited factors such as by ink, toner, paper, onboard memory, and equipment uptime.
Supplies (ink, toner, and paper) – a fax machine needs paper as well as ink or toner to operate. If they run out, the fax transmission will be interrupted. Many modern fax machines can resume printing once paper and toner are refilled, however a busy fax machine may run out of memory space before the machine is refilled.
Memory – Most modern fax machines have some type of onboard memory. These days, memory is much less costly than it was in the glory days of fax machines. It is standard for even very basic fax machines to have upwards of 50 pages of memory.
Fax servers & fax software
Fax servers and fax software have their own theoretical constraints, however they are not likely to be reached with a fax transmission.
The limits to a fax server transmission have more to do with physical file sizes and available memory. These limits are likely to be much higher than a conventional fax machine has. It is common for fax machines to have 64MB of memory. Fax servers and fax software typically operate with hardware capability in the gigabytes, many more times the capacity of regular fax machines.
Fax machines (or computers with fax software) on a VoIP phone line
Some fax machines (or computers with fax software) attempt to connect through a VoIP phone line. This type of connection is known to be very inconsistent for faxing.
A fax through a VoIP connection may work for some people, however it by far is the most common problem we receive questions about.
A fax machine on a VoIP connection may run a test page successfully, however may experience transmission stops after only 3 or 4 pages.
What happens if too many pages are sent to the receiving fax machine?
If too many pages are sent, then the full transmission would come back marked as “incomplete.”
The receiving fax machine will reach some sort of error, and will not be able to send a confirmation message to show that the entire fax was successfully received.
Best practices for sending faxes with many pages
Mark the number of pages on the cover page – It is standard practice to mark the number of pages in the transmission (including the cover page) on the cover page. This helps the receiving fax user identify if they have received all pages.
Break up really large faxes – 30 pages would be considered a lot of pages for a fax. If it is known that the receiving party is the type of place to receive a lot of fax traffic (and therefore has a larger capacity fax machine) 100+ pages would be considered a lot of pages for a fax.
Consider alternatives if they can be used – email is a good alternative for fax, however in some cases (for example legal transmissions that want the confirmation of successful transmission), registered mail may be an alternative if the message cannot be split up into smaller messages.