Although it may seem like a dead technology, fax communication is still an integral part of many major companies, governments, non-profit organizations, and individuals. While conventional fax methods require equipment and a telephone line connection, online fax services offer an easy and affordable way to send documents to other people hassle free.
There are a number of considerations you should make when opting for a new online fax service. Here is a list of the top providers which we recommend you consider when making your choice. Your needs may differ from what each of them offers, so be sure to consider looking into more than one of them.
Online Faxing Re-Defined
There was a time when, in order to send a conventional fax, one required expensive equipment connected to a dedicated fax telephone line. When we entered the digital age, however, so did the fax machine. While it is true that email has replaced the fax machine in most regards, there are still many people who rely on the technology every day to get work done.
While the concept remains the same, online faxing is a completely different experience. It removes the need for standalone machines and connections and allows users to send important documents via their computer and internet connection. In fact, sending an online fax is far more convenient and efficient.
Internet fax services convert paperwork into a transmittable data format, which in turn sends a paper fax to a conventional machine. A fax sent in this manner still maintains the complete reliability of a paper and equipment-based fax. Compared to the costs involved in paper faxing, the cost of using an internet faxing service is negligible.
How Internet Faxing Works
When a document transfer is initiated, a fax is sent via a web-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) or through email via a special service optimization. This transmission is given through the provider you select, and there is nothing that must be done by the client from the technical side. This technology converts images to scanned faxes to be received at the other end.
The file in question is then converted to a PDF or TIF image via the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME). Further, TCP/IP protocol creates a guaranteed security transmission and shows whether the fax has been received successfully. To get started, simply log into the GUI or email fax service, input the fax number of the receiver, and then add your file.
Internet faxing is as straightforward as sending an email. Your recipient won’t even know you didn’t use a fax machine! You can even include it on your voice plan from companies like Nextiva.
The Benefits of Online Faxing
The benefits of using the internet to send faxes are many. Although this list is not comprehensive, it features the most common reasons people switch to online faxing.
- Online Faxing Modernizes an Outdated Technology
Let’s face it, nobody is running to send faxes if they don’t need to. The technology remains due to the existence of legacy systems that have yet to be modernized, but that doesn’t mean that it is not worthy of an elegant and modern solution. Online faxing elevates the technology and even offers features not found on a classic fax interface.
- All You Need is a Computer and Internet Connection
Where once sending a fax required expensive hardware, software, and even a dedicated phone connection, the latest online faxing technology allows users to send a fax with the click of a button. Using and internet faxing service is more like sending an email than like sending a fax.
- You Can Send Faxes on the Go
Thanks to smartphones, people are connected no matter where in the world they are. With this connectivity even comes the ability to send faxes on the go. No longer do you have to worry if the hotel you’re staying at has a fax machine. With today’s modern advances you could be sending faxes from the poolside.
- Your Faxes are Always Safe
Faxes sent online are encrypted and thus guaranteed not to be seen by the wrong people. When receiving faxes online there is no risk of paper getting into the wrong hands. In fact, often times faxes are sent between two digital entities, thus removing any risk of malfeasance.
- You Can Send Multiple Faxes at Once
Often times users of fax machines are required to stand by as papers are sent one at a time. Not only is this a major time waster, it is also an incredibly inefficient way to send out mass faxes and multiple pages. Similar to your email’s “CC:” functionality, online faxing can send out faxes simultaneously.
- Online Faxing is Cheaper
Not only is online faxing more efficient, it is also money saving. When switching to an online fax provider, users get immediate savings on paper, ink, machinery, and a phone line. The cost of a subscription or even “as needed” plan doesn’t come close to the cost of operating a fax machine.
The Online Faxing Features That Matter Most
As with all internet services, one must carefully consider the features offered by each individual online fax provider. Not all companies offer the same services, but there are some key characteristics that you should pursue.
- Scheduled Delivery
Sometimes you don’t want a document to be sent out until later, but you want to have the peace of mind that it will be sent out on time. Scheduled delivery allows for the user to input any time of their choosing in which a fax will be sent out.
- Cover Pages
Often times a fax requires a cover page. Instead of having to remember to add them to all of the documents you send out, online faxing services can automatically include a cover page for you. Additionally, you can create one as you would an email and it will automatically be converted into a cover for you.
- Electronic Signature
Fax is very common for sending legal documents, contracts, and even banking instructions. These often require signatures when sent via fax and often times forgetting to sign documents can slow down a process. Online faxing offers electronic signatures, which are legally binding and allow you to easily “stamp” your documents.
- International Delivery
Some countries are more reliant on faxes than others, and sometimes you need to send a fax internationally. Online faxing is a borderless process, not bound by the limits of location. International delivery is fast and there are no extra costs associated with sending to a long-distance phone number.
- Security and Encryption
One way modern faxing really shines is through the added layer of security it offers. Much like the emails you send every day, online faxes can be encrypted and secured to ensure that no prying eyes can see what documents you’re sending or whom you’re sending them to.
- Spam Blocking
One of the most annoying things about owning a fax machine is coming home to find a printer tray full of ads and spam. Not only do they waste ink and paper, they violate your privacy. With internet faxing you can block spammy services and numbers for good, instead of relying on making opt-out calls that seem to never work. If some spam does get through, you can simply delete the message and block the sender.
What are the Costs?
Internet faxing tends to be much more affordable (and convenient) than the standard, physical fax option. However, it is still incumbent upon the user to discover in advance all of the various fees involved in a subscription, and the precise services provided for these fees.
First, one should be advised to check whether the monthly subscription cost includes all the charges, or whether there are taxes or additional fees. For example, what will you be charged if you go over the monthly allotment of faxes? If you know that you will send many, it may be helpful to consider opting for a service which allows an unlimited amount of free online faxes.
Second, if you are aware that you receive faxes but do not send them often, a service which prioritizes the one route and not the other may be best for you. Be realistic about plans which are low-cost but do not include much flexibility or fax volume. Otherwise, it is possible that once you begin using the services, you will incur insurmountable fees.
It is pertinent to consider the customer service available as well, by checking what times technicians provide assistance, and through which mediums. Live chat, email, and phone service can each be extremely valuable. You should also find a company where employees sufficiently trained to help you if there are any problems. A delay in sending a fax can affect business operations and put you behind, and if you have remote employees, it can be difficult to resolve the problem.
As always, the best thing to do when it comes to trying out new services is to subscribe to a free trial and see how convenient online faxing can be. Have a look at the various companies listed above and peruse their websites in order to select a service that appeals to you.