Faxing isn’t as cool as it used to be, and for good reasons. The fax machine is a paper-consuming beast that demands a separate phone line, otherwise it hogs phone traffic with incoming/outgoing messages. Besides, sending an email is much more convenient; the only downside is that, like SMS texts, faxes are more likely to be read and answered within a short amount of time.
So how can you combine the demanding nature of faxes in an online environment? With the help of VoIP online faxing, of course. We’ll explain how online faxing works, with or without an actual faxing machine, and why you should send/receive your faxes via the internet, rather than keeping a separate landline for those purposes. We’ll also take a look at the options you have regarding online faxing, how you can port your old fax number to your new system and which VoIP service providers have the best online faxing services.
How Does Online Faxing Work?
Online faxing is basically turning your virtual phone system into a fax machine without the need to own the actual faxing device. Almost all cloud phone systems are able to receive faxes by simply converting the incoming faxes to email format. All you have to do is dedicate a separate extension for faxing purposes (in fact, you can completely leave this step out) and once a fax comes in, you get notified thereof either by email or push notification.
Outbound faxing is a totally different thing. The problem with this feature is that it is not supported by all phone systems: you either have to own a fax machine, which has to be connected to the internet via a fax bridge (think ATAs for desktop phones), or you have to pay extra to be able to send faxes. However, if you can get over this “nuisance”, faxing becomes relatively easy: either you just have to upload your fax message to an extension and let your caller get the message by themselves (by dialing said extension), or send the fax like an email, only in this case, the destination is not an email address, but a fax number.
Benefits of Online Faxing
Definitely the biggest benefit of online faxing is that it is environmentally friendly: if you don’t own a fax machine and you don’t need to print out the message, you already contribute to saving trees. Speaking of owning a fax machine, you can kick that big, noisy bastard out of your office and have extra free space: online faxes arrive right into your online phone system’s account or your email inbox, and you only need a computer or a mobile device to open them. Another great thing is that you will not miss any fax messages: like we said, incoming faxes alert you via emails or push notifications, so you can immediately read them. Online faxing works the other way around as well (albeit it depends on your VoIP service provider): you can send your messages to dedicated phone numbers like you were sending a regular email, but knowing that it will probably be read immediately rather than being pushed aside for later. By far the most important thing about online faxing is that it doesn’t require a separate line, therefore you can easily send faxes while not interrupting other inbound/outgoing phone calls.
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Fax Numbers in VoIP
As regular faxes are connected to a second phone line, they usually have their own separate fax numbers. Since number porting is supported by VoIP providers, associating your old fax number with your new system won’t be a huge problem. However, multiple numbers cannot be ported from one provider to the other at the same time. In other words, if you port your fax number, you have to pay a number porting fee for this number as well.
Like we said before, it is a bit easier to use your primary phone number for faxing purposes should you not have a faxing machine. If you want to have a dedicated fax number anyway, VoIP service providers usually let you choose between either a toll-free or a local number dedicated to faxing purposes only. Thus, for a little extra you can separate your faxing from regular phone calls.
Recommended VoIP Fax Services
Before we move onto the introduction of three companies that definitely offer faxing features (Nextiva, RingCentral and Grasshopper), a reminder: always read the terms and conditions of VoIP service providers to learn what faxing features are included in your subscription and which features come for an additional fee.
Whether you use online faxing as part of a regular Nextiva VoIP subscription (which offers unlimited faxing) or subscribe to Nextiva vFax separately (with the cheapest pricing plan for SMBs with 1,000 pages being $12.95 per month) you get all features needed. Nextiva’s online faxing doesn’t require a turned-on device, because faxes are delivered to your account where they are stored securely until you open them. You can fax anytime from a mobile device/PC as an email or you can use a fax machine with a fax bridge, even using your old fax number since number porting to Nextiva is free.
You have two faxing options with RingCentral: you can either subscribe to a complete cloud phone service and get online faxing included, or subscribe to online faxing only for as low as $7.99 per month. Regardless of your decision, you get the same features: you can associate local or vanity/toll-free numbers to your fax line – albeit the former is $4.99 per month per new number, and the latter is a one-time $30 fee. You have the option to send and receive faxes in email format, customize the look of your faxes, and send fax messages via a separate desktop/mobile app with files attached thereto from Box, Dropbox or Google Drive. And as the cherry on the cake, you have features like push/email notifications, encrypted faxing and junk fax blocking.
Grasshopper (available from as low as $12 per month) only supports inbound faxing, meaning that all incoming fax messages are converted into PDF and sent to you by email to be opened in your account or your mailbox. Outbound faxing is unfortunately a bit problematic. Grasshopper’s solution is fax on demand: you have to fax documents into your account and let callers get said documents by dialing specific extension numbers. The other solution, hooking up your fax machine with a fax bridge, is not supported by Grasshopper, therefore it is not recommended.