A lot of people believe that faxing has gone the way of the dinosaurs. With email, instant messaging, and video chatting; is fax even still relevant in today’s world? Does your business still need this capability as part of its operation?
The truth is, faxing still plays a major role in many businesses today despite the newer forms of communication available today. This means that many businesses are hesitant to cut the cord completely. However, traditional fax machines can prove to be a headache. They’re expensive, they break down over time, and the cost of supplies like toner and paper can quickly add up. There has to be a better solution, right?
Online fax is the newest method of sending a fax without having to deal with some of the archaic aspects of faxing. Internet fax services give businesses the ability to continue using fax and keeping that line of communication open while also allowing you to kick that old, expensive fax machine to the curb.
Of course, removing the fax machine from the equation brings up some questions. We’re going to break down how to send a fax online and embrace the future with the help of Internet fax services.
Who Still Uses Fax Today?
Today, when you want to send someone a note or some text then you probably send an email. It’s fast and convenient. But, with that said, email doesn’t always work for all needs and situations. There are still many reasons why fax may have to be used regardless of what other options are available.
Business with sensitive communications that need to be legally binding typically look to faxing when sending out documents. Many people are unaware that faxed documents would stand up in court, for example, while emailed documents would not. This obviously means that some businesses and industries may have no other option than to use fax.
Since faxed documents are considered legally binding, it makes sense that lawyers still heavily rely on fax for their most sensitive communications. When a lawyer sends a document for a case or even a basic real estate transaction, everything has to be done by the book. Failing to do this could mean that they lose the case they were working on and they could even be investigated for failing to adhere to professional standards.
Medical offices are another great example of a business that still uses fax today. Medical data is among the most sensitive personal data a person has. As such, medical professionals need to take the privacy and security of this data very seriously. Not only is this for the well being of their business and patients but regulations like HIPAA clearly outline the responsibilities of healthcare businesses when it comes to a patient’s private medical data. Running afoul of HIPAA can mean significant penalties for medical professionals that could jeopardize the ability of the business to continue operating. As a result, fax is the obvious choice for sending things like patient referrals.
Of course, doctors and lawyers aren’t the only people sending out sensitive faxes. If your business needs documents to be legally binding and secure, then fax is your best option. For example, if you operate an importing company that orders products from overseas then you may want to have a clear paper trail of communications with suppliers you’re working with. In addition, many overseas businesses have unreliable internet and may opt for fax to do much of their communications anyway. Businesses that work with the government also need to ensure the legality and validity of their contracts which is why fax is still popular when dealing with government procurement agencies. This is especially true if you were doing business with the government and the project was to be audited or reviewed. Having legally binding documents to protect your business is essential.
There are countless businesses and industries still using fax and many important reasons why fax is the method of choice for communication. But how does the process actually work?
How Faxing Works
If you have ever sent a fax before then you are probably aware of how a traditional fax is sent. Faxing works by placing a document in the fax machine which is then scanned and transmitted via phone lines to the recipient. Since fax machines use phone lines, sending a fax is much like completing a phone call. The process is simple and intuitive which is why many businesses still choose to send faxes.
Using Internet fax services is much the same as a traditional fax service. With an Internet fax provider, you still have a fax number. However, the need for expensive physical equipment and a dedicated fax line is removed. The fax machine interface is digital and available through a web browser portal, browser extension, or mobile app. From there, completing the fax is pretty much the same process as sending a fax using a physical machine.
First, if the document is in paper form, you will have to scan it and save it to the device you plan to send the online fax from. If the document is already in digital form then you can skip that step. From there, you upload the document to the fax portal you’re using, enter the recipient’s fax number, and then send the fax. For the person receiving the fax, the process is not the same. For all they know, you could still be using a physical fax machine.
Making the switch from traditional faxing to online fax services is very easy. The process to complete a fax doesn’t change, only the tools used to send the fax are changed.
How to Send a Fax Online
There are a number of different ways to complete an online fax. While an Internet fax service is probably the easiest way to do this, there are many more options available.
How to Fax with Dropbox
Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage services available. Sending a fax right from Dropbox is an ideal solution if you are already using the platform to store and organize your documents. However, Dropbox doesn’t have a fax feature built into the platform so you will have to find a way to make it work.
The best way to send a fax directly from Dropbox is to find an Internet fax provider that offers integration with this popular service. Many providers will have plugins or apps available that enable online faxing right from the Dropbox platform. This allows you to simply select the document you wish to fax and then send it to your recipient right from your cloud storage. With this seamless integration, online faxing with Dropbox is possible. Plus, if you work on-the-go, having all your documents available to fax with cloud storage is an ideal solution.
Online Fax with Google Voice
Google Voice does not offer included fax services but there are some ways to keep that Google Voice number and begin accepting and sending faxes online. There are a few different ways to accomplish this.
First, there is hardware available that can turn your computer into a fax machine. Essentially, it is a fax modem that you can plug into directly. The modem will use your Google Voice number and allow you to send and receive faxes online. However, if you were hoping to get rid of extra equipment entirely, this may not be the right solution.
Another way to manage this is to find an online fax service that offers Google Voice integration. If you have a Google Voice number that you want to act as your fax number then you should search online for fax providers that integrate with Google Voice and see the specific process they outline.
Finally, if you like your Google Voice number but you don’t necessarily need to fax right from the Google Voice service then your best solution is probably to simply port your Google Voice number to an Internet fax service. This will require unlocking your Google Voice number which is a relatively easy process using the unlocking page on Google Voice. Unlocking the number to prepare it for porting to an online fax service does cost money but it is very affordable and a small price to pay if you want to keep your Google Voice number and turn it into a fax line. Of course, this does mean that you will lose calling capabilities with the number.
How to Fax Online with Gmail
Gmail is one of the most popular free email services. What if you could also use it for your online faxing needs? Talk about killing two birds with one stone. The great news is that this process is pretty easy, it just involves finding the right Internet fax provider to support email.
Many online fax services offer email faxing. This process is as simple as sending an email but it allows you to deliver your communication to a fax line as if you used a traditional fax machine. When you have chosen the fax service that supports email fax, you simply have to learn the specific process for sending a fax from email with that provider.
This process usually involves sending an email to the fax number you wish to deliver the fax to. For example, you may send an email to [email protected]axservice.com. This email converts the attached document and delivers it to the fax number you have entered. Best of all, this is all done right from your Gmail account that you already know and use regularly. No need to learn an entirely new service or layout.
How to Fax Online with a PC
Whether you want to send a fax online with a Mac or Microsoft Windows-based operating system, the process is very easy. If you have ever sent a fax before, then sending a fax using a PC is much like using a physical fax machine without the toner and paper. First, you will have to choose an online fax service with a web portal or browser extension that’s compatible with the programs you already use. This should be a fairly simple step as most online fax services offer these features.
Next, all you have to do to send a fax online with your PC is log into the web portal for the fax service, upload the document, and then enter the fax number of the recipient. That’s it! You’ve just sent a fax without all of the extra hardware and costs that come from having a physical fax machine. All you needed was the PC you already owned.
How to Send Faxes Using a Smartphone
If you’re on-the-go then, chances are, you do a lot of work from your smartphone. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send a fax right from that handy little mobile device? You may be excited to know that you can.
Some online fax services offer mobile apps for sending faxes right from your iPhone and/or Android phone. The app works much like a web portal would but it’s right there on your phone. All you do is select the file from your device, upload it to the app, and then input the fax number of the person you want to send the fax to. That’s it! You’ve just sent a fax from your smartphone.
How to Get a Free Online Fax Number
Free fax numbers are not something you can enjoy with physical fax lines. Phone companies control the lines and charge you a regular monthly fee to maintain your fax line. Even if you only send a few faxes each month, you may find that you are spending upwards of $20 per month just to have a fax line.
With Internet fax services, free fax numbers are easy to come by as there are a number of online fax services that offer free numbers for subscribers. Of course, not all free fax numbers will meet the needs of all businesses so it’s important to check which features are included with a free online fax service.
For example, some free fax services may limit the number of faxes you can send and receive each month. If you are only sending a handful of faxes then this may work. However, high volume users may need to opt for a paid plan.
Additionally, free fax services may not allow for international faxing. Again, if your business only deals domestically then this should not be a concern. But, businesses working internationally may need to look into a paid fax service plan.
List of Free Online Fax Services
If you’re new to the world of online faxing, you may want to consider using a free service, so that you can familiarize yourself with the process, prior to upgrading to a paid version (if that’s even necessary). Thankfully, there are several free online fax services available.
The free version of FaxBetter has one of the best range of features of the other free options on the market. Users get a dedicated free fax number and can send up to 20 pages per month, including international faxes. For low volume users, this may be a great option.
GotFreeFax is a well-known name in Internet faxing. The service limits you to 3 pages per day but you can pay extra if you are beginning to send a few more pages than normal. International faxing is included but there is no free dedicated fax line available with this service.
eFax is another well-known name in online faxing and they have a free offering for basic users who don’t need all of the bells and whistles. The free plan doesn’t include a dedicated fax number and limits you to sending 10 pages per month. The service is limited and basic but you can step up to the paid version if you find you need more capabilities.
PamFax allows you to send 3 pages per day with a free cover page as well. If you find you need more pages, the prices are reasonable. However, PamFax does not offer free dedicated fax numbers and they are one of the few free options listed here that doesn’t allow for international faxing.
FaxZero, as the name suggests, cost you zero dollars. You can send 3 pages plus one cover page per day for free. FaxZero also allows for sending faxes internationally. However, you can’t get a free dedicated fax number with FaxZero which may make it inadequate for some needs.
What Are the Costs of Online Fax Services?
Using an online fax service can range in pricing depending on the set of features that you need. As previously mentioned, there are a number of free services available for basic fax needs. For more advanced needs, you may need to opt for a paid option that can start at $5 per month. Most top names tend to charge around $20 per month for their fully-featured plans.
Do Both the Sender and the Recipient Need to Have Online Fax Services?
One common question is whether an online fax user can send a fax to someone using a traditional fax machine, or if both users have to use online fax services. Since an online fax service can send fax documents to any fax number, the intended recipient doesn’t have to be using an online service too. In fact, they will notice no difference at all when receiving a fax or sending one to you. The process works the same, you have just moved your management of faxes from a fax machine to an online portal.
Is Online Faxing Secure?
Security is always an important concern. Since faxed documents often have sensitive information on them, is it safe to be sending online faxes? An online fax service can be very secure. Practicing good online habits like making strong passwords can make sure you have a secure experience. In addition, some online fax services offer encryption for faxes which means that hackers cannot intercept and read the faxes you’re sending. There is also the benefit of receiving faxes to an online portal rather than having them print at your fax machine. There is no opportunity to lose the fax or have it stolen from the fax machine tray before you get a chance to properly file and organize the page.
What Equipment Is Needed for Online Faxing?
As long as you have the internet available and a device that connects to the internet, you’re able to send an online fax. Most online fax services have a web portal available while some even have smartphone apps for users to send faxes from. Most people already own these devices which means there is no additional equipment cost for online faxing. If you have a laptop and internet access then you can start sending faxes online.
Can I Get an International Fax Number?
If you operate multiple offices around the world then you may want to get an international fax number for your online fax service. This is possible with some providers but they typically don’t offer international fax numbers for free. Be sure to research which providers offer these numbers in the first place and then compare costs and other features before making your decision.