Best Online Fax Services
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What are electronic fax services?
Electronic fax services are web and/or software based programs that convert printed documents into digital copies and visa-versa. Instead of having a separate fax machine to that scans a document, then transmits it’s data via phone lines to another fax machine, an electronic fax program will treat all incoming and outgoing data as email.
The traditional fax technology, while found and used in most businesses and offices, has several frustrating disadvantages that an electronic fax service (also known as email/fax, e-fax or digital fax) addresses. One is the cost of running a fax machine, from the cost of the machine itself, to replacing the machines paper and toner to keeping a dedicated phone line for it. With digital fax services, you generally pay a flat, monthly fee anywhere between four to thirty-five dollars a month (depending on how many faxes your business needs to send and receive), and that’s all you pay for. E-faxes also save you or your business from wasting tons of paper.
Traditional fax machines also take a lot of time. It takes about a minute to scan a simple text page, then another minute to send, then another to send a confirmation page back. A fax machine can also get overwhelmed by several faxes being received at once and will transmit a busy signal to the sender. E-fax services are instantaneous, like email, and can handle many at a time.
How do electronic fax services work?
Imagine you’re a wholesale or retail company. You have a multi-page order guide that you fax to customers around the United States and that they fax back to you with their orders. Because you want to cut down as many costs as you can, you switch from your clunky, paper wasting fax machine to an e-fax system for your entire shipping and receiving departments. But how would your employees use it?
1. Scan the order guide into the computer or use a digital copy of the guide. Most electronic fax services handle Adobe PDF files and Windows TIFF files, but other services handle many other file types.
2. To send the document, to your customers, you now have three quick options.
- a.Send through your email. Instead of a traditional email however, you will type in a fax number, followed the provider (ex: email@example.com).
- b.Send through Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. Many companies offer a software download that will add the electronic fax option as printer job, so when you click ‘print,’ it will start transmitting instead.
- c.Send through the company website. This allows you to both send and recive faxes on wireless device and to send to non-electronic fax phone numbers. You can also send to many customers at once using this service, with no delay on the servers part.
3. The e-fax server will then translate your digital data into data that can go through a fax line. The data is received and printed out.
4. For the receiver to return your fax, all they have to do is dial your fax machine (ex: 1800-555-9999), and their documents will be converted into digital files such as a PDF, which you will receive as an email attachment, which you can save, print or whatever you like.
What should one look for when choosing a provider?
Choosing a electronic fax provider is like choosing a computer or a car: Among the many choices out their, there is no one choice perfect for everybody but there’s a good chance that there’s one perfect for you.
The most obvious thing to consider is price. Many electronic fax services have low monthly rates (compared to the price of maintaining a real fax machine) but have extra fees. The fees can occur from going over your allotted incoming/outgoing fax limit, faxing an image that takes more than a minute to scan and send or receiving an international fax. But money isn’t the only sticking point. Along with price, also try considering these following questions before you purchase an electronic fax plan:
1. How many faxes do I (or my business) need to really send or receive? A small local office might only need fifty or less a month, whereas an international sales-driven business might need in the thousands.
2. What kind of files am I sending? Almost all electronic fax services support Adobe PDF files, but if you need to send graphics, spreadsheets or databases without the hassle of converting them, look for a program that supports all the files you need.
3. Who do I need to fax and who wants to fax me? While having a local fax number is generally cheaper and easier for others to remember, you can receive faxes from anywhere in the country as well as Canada for free on a toll-free number. Some electronic fax services even have low or free rates for countries in Europe, Asia and South America.