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What is Online Faxing?Online faxing, sometimes referred to as internet faxing, is the transmission of documents over the
internet. Unlike traditional faxing, where a fax machine is used to scan documents and transmit them over a phone line, online faxing transmits digital files over the internet. No physical fax machine or phone lines are required, and you can even handle the entire process using a mobile device.
Documents are converted to PDF or TIFF data and attached to an email in MIME format. Data is then sent via TCP/IP to any fax number on the intranet or Internet. The use of TCP/IP means that there are no long-distance fees and reception is verifiable.
Internet faxing is much less expensive than using a traditional fax machine, particularly when sending or receiving multiple page faxes over long distances. This is because there are no telephone lines involved and the only cost is a fixed line internet connection fee.
Internet faxes can be received either by a fax machine or any internet enabled device through an online fax service. Faxing documents are kept secure through the use of end to end encryption.
How Does Online Faxing Work?Online faxing is simple. Once you choose an online faxing provider, you can easily start sending and receiving faxes right away.
Sending a FaxTo send a fax, you can choose a digital file or create one by scanning physical documents. You can
scan documents using a dedicated scanning device, or you can simply use the camera on your phone.
Once you have your digital file, your online service will likely give you the option of including a brief message, or cover page, with your fax. After you have prepared your cover page (or chosen not to) and attached your digital file, you simply type in the fax number of the recipient and hit send.
Depending on your provider, you could choose to complete this entire process with an email account, online portal, mobile app, or through a combination of platforms. Many online fax providers will also give you advanced options when sending a fax such as the ability to send files to multiple recipients and/or electronic signature functionality.
Receiving a FaxAs easy as sending an online fax is, receiving one is even easier. To receive a fax simply log in with your online fax provider and check your inbox just as you would with email. Your online fax provider will likely allow you to choose your own faxing number for sending and receiving faxes. Most providers offer local as well as toll-free numbers.
Can You Fax From Your Mobile Device?Yes, absolutely. One of the main benefits of online faxing is being able to use your mobile device to fax. There are two main methods for faxing with your smartphone.
Faxing From Mobile AppsThe best in online faxing service offers a mobile app, which you can find by conducting a search in the
app store. After you have downloaded the app of the provider of your choice and signed in, you are ready to begin viewing faxes, sending and receiving faxes, signing documents and more, right from your mobile device.
To view your incoming faxes, open up the app, login and click on view faxes. You faxes will automatically display and you can click on the one you want to view.
To send a fax, open the app, login and on the home screen choose the “send fax” option. Most apps will have a send fax form where you can manually input the fax number you are sending to or choose one of your contacts. The send fax form will then guide you through the process of creating a cover page if you want one, taking a picture of what you want to fax with your phone’s camera, or selecting files or photos from the cloud. When you have finished attaching all your pages, click send.
Most online faxing mobile apps also allow you to search faxes using keywords and add electronic signatures to documents either by taking a picture of your signature or tracing your signature with your finger.
Sending a Fax Via EmailMost online fax providers allow you to send faxes by emailing your fax document(s) to the recipient’s
fax number, combined with a custom ending. For example, if you wanted to fax documents to 555-444-5555, you would send the document to an email address such as email@example.com (this is not an actual email).
You would use the subject line of your email as the attention line of your fax. The body of the email would be used for the cover page. You can then attach your faxing documents to the email just as you would normally attach documents to an email. Normally, even when international faxing, you'll get a copy in your email inbox as proof that you sent something
You can also use the faxing via email feature to send faxes from your phone, just as you would normally send emails from your phone. This will save you the step of downloading a mobile faxing app.
Features of the Best Online Faxing ServicesBesides making faxing easier and cheaper than traditional methods, online faxing also offers dozens of advanced features that are not available with legacy faxing. The best online fax services offer the features that are essential to both large and small businesses.
IntegrationsIntegrations are helpful for everything from online faxing to VoIP to project management software.
Having all of the tools and services you use on a daily basis integrated will make your life simpler and save you time and frustration.
Many online fax providers will integrate easily with Google Drive and Dropbox, so that you can easily select files from these platforms and send them via fax. Similarly, you can save and store received faxes automatically in these programs. Some service providers may connect to other cloud storage and file-sharing apps for businesses connected via Android and iOS. Keep in mind that most providers charge monthly for a set number of inbound and outbound pages and if you exceed this limit, there may be overage fees. In rare cases, providers will charge a setup fee.
File TypesHaving a provider that can handle a variety of file types means more flexibility for your business. You
may be aware of the file types you will use most often for sending faxes, but you may not be aware of the file types that you will be receiving. Going with a provider that supports a long list of file types is always a safe bet.
These are the most commonly supported file types
- Adobe PDF (.pdf)
- Adobe PostScript (.ps)
- Microsoft Word (.doc)
- Microsoft Word Template (.dot)
- Microsoft Word 2007+ (.docx)
- Microsoft Word 2007+ Template (.dotx)
- Microsoft Works (.wps)
- Rich Text (.rtf)
- Microsoft Excel (.xls)
- Microsoft Excel 2007+ (.xlsx)
- Microsoft Powerpoint (.ppt)
- Microsoft Powerpoint 2007+ (.pptx)
- OpenOffice Writer Document (.odt)
- OpenOffice Calc Spreadsheet (.ods)
- WordPerfect (.wpd)
- Comma-separated CSV (.csv)
- HTML (.htm, .html)
- TIFF Image (.tif, .tiff)
- JPEG Image (.jpg, .jpeg)
- Bitmap Image (.bmp)
- GIF Image (.gif)
- PNG Image (.png)
- Plain Text (.txt)
- HP Printer Control Language (.pcl)
Inbound Internet FaxThe ability to receive inbound faxes should be a given for paid online faxing solutions, but it is generally not included with free fax services.
Customizable Web Interface or PortalA customizable portal can help your business stay organized keep track of the metrics most relevant to your business model. Some things that you can do in an online faxing portal are:
- View fax usage reports: This feature allows you to filter and view your activity by customer, date, or another parameter of your choice. Some providers also offer the ability to generate reports as CSV or Excel files.
- Create custom cover pages: The ability to easily create and store cover sheets can save you time and also reduce user error.
- Tag and search faxes: This feature gives you the ability to "tag" archived faxes with keywords and retrieve them anytime.
- Manage contacts: You online faxing service should make it easy to look up your contact’s details as well as quickly create or import new contacts.
StorageMany online fax providers offer unlimited lifetime fax storage in the cloud. If your business sends and receives faxes regularly, you will want to ensure that the online faxing provider you use allows you to easily access your documents 24/7 from any device.
Access for Multiple UsersMany providers will allow for more than one email address to be used for sending and receiving faxes at no additional charge. For example, eFax and MyFax both allow up to 5 different email addresses at no extra charge.
Electronic SignatureIf your business must regularly fax signed documents, electronic signature is a must have feature. Many online faxing providers offer this feature which allows you to upload your signature (either by scanning it or tracing it on a device) and add it to faxing documents easily.
Fax By EmailThis feature allows you to send a fax the same way you would send an email. You would simply use the recipients' faxing phone number with a custom ending in the place of their email address.
Mobile AppThis feature allows you to scan documents, send and receive faxes and manage your faxing inbox all from a mobile device. This allows you and your team to handle faxing from anywhere in the world.
Considerations When Sending Faxes Online
SecurityOnline faxing is one of the safest forms of communication. Depending on your fax service provider, you can usually select a plan with advanced security for extra protection. Online faxing is safer than traditional faxing because there is no risk of physical documents being left unattended and out in the open. Online faxing is made secure through the use of SSL encryption which protects your personal information.
ComplianceAlthough internet faxing is secure and safe, it is not necessarily compliant with certain Federal or
international regulations. Many of the top online faxing providers do offer corporate plans that are compliant with HIPAA, SOX & GLBA and other security standards. You will need to make sure that this type of compliance is included in your plan if your business is held to one of these standards.
In most cases, HIPAA-compliant fax providers are necessary to operate in the medical industry.
CostMost online faxing providers require a monthly subscription. Some plans have a set number of fax pages you can send and receive each month, other plans are unlimited. Many providers also offer free trial periods that are limited in the number of pages as well as features. In rare cases there will also be a setup fee. Generally online faxing is inexpensive and monthly plans can start at less than $5.00 per month.
ScaleOnline faxing plans are very easy to scale because there is no hardware involved. Whenever your
business is ready to send and receive more faxes, simply switch your plan to a high volume or unlimited plan. Unlimited plans provide an ease of use when faxing to international numbers and the ability to create a toll-free fax number for clients to use.
Find a company that offers reliable customer support, which you'll need as your company grows.