Just a couple of decades ago, you needed access to a dedicated fax machine or an expensive, clunky all-in-one device to send and receive faxes. But the times are fast changing. The first internet fax service went public in 1996. A quarter of a century later, the fax industry is poised to undergo another massive shift — going completely digital.
Although fax machines are going out of style, they haven’t yet taken their final bow. Regulated industries like medicine and law still rely on this old-school technology, and your business might as well, even if only occasionally.
As a way to bridge the gap between the old-school fax era and fully digital online documents like esignature software, fax services have moved online. The convenience of sending fax online combined with the familiarity of traditional faxing means you can now send and receive business documents from your computer or mobile device. Plus, the digital era has ushered in new fax features, including fax signing and faxing from cloud-based storage systems like Google Drive.
What is an online fax?
An online fax is essentially a fax sent using the internet rather than a phone line. In order to send a fax online, you’ll need to have access to an online fax service, or a system that allows your business to send and receive fax documents via the internet. When you switch to online faxing, you no longer have to deal with the hassle of traditional wired fax machines, which make use of standard telephone connections and a physical fax machine to transmit messages.
As a result, offices that adopt internet fax systems see dramatic reductions in communications expenditures. The cost of sending faxes is included in your internet subscription service, meaning you won’t have to worry about an expensive telephone bill. Previously, fax users were charged astronomical amounts for long-distance calls, but that’s no longer the case with internet-based fax services.
Online faxing could be the upgrade your business needs to streamline processes while maintaining secure, top-rate business communications. Internet fax services are also flexible, and they allow businesses to exchange fax messages using legacy fax machines, so you won’t miss any important communications. You also won’t have to worry about equipment maintenance, stocking fax machine supplies, or investing in a new fax machine when the old one inevitably wears out.
The transition toward online faxing
You’ll also be able to get ahead of the curve with an online fax subscription. Businesses that haven’t yet invested in cloud-based models will be in for a rude awakening sooner or later. The integrated services digital network, more commonly known as ISDN, is the telephone network system that today’s remaining fax machines run on.
In the U.K., it is now impossible to order new ISDN installations, and national networks will be completely switched off by 2025. While America’s state-based system makes it difficult to make blanket statements on the current state of ISDN, it’s safe to say that ISDN won’t be around for long in the U.S. Verizon and AT&T have been steadily increasing prices for years, while Sprint has completely done away with the technology.
Moving your fax machine online is a cost-efficient decision that will help your business keep up with the times. However, before committing to any service, it’s wise to consider the additional benefits and security features you can expect when making the switch.
What are the benefits of an online fax service?
Besides the cost-saving benefits of signing up for an online fax service, there are a host of other positives to explore:
With legacy fax machines, your business probably had to deal with paper jams, send failures, service outages, and more. Almost any technical issue you can think of, fax machines can fall victim to. When you do away with the physical hardware, your virtual fax machine will always be up to the job.
Increased operational efficiency
If you’ve ever experienced large file holdups or run out of toner, you know just how frustrating a traditional fax machine can be — not to mention the fact that they cost a small fortune. Online fax services aren’t phased by multiple faxes, multiple recipients, or hardware restrictions. They help you access the essential fax machine functions, plus additional features, without the hassle of legacy hardware systems.
Flexible to use
Today, more businesses than ever have shifted to remote or hybrid working models. International business is at its height, and distributed teams are more common than ever before. With online faxing, you can send multiple faxes without any wait. You’re able to easily scale your business alongside online fax technology, from anywhere with an internet connection. Whether you’re sitting at your office desk or on a business trip to London, you’ll have access to your fax service through any supported internet-enabled device.
It allows you to go digital
Online fax services free up physical office space since you’ll be able to store and view files electronically. Besides saving you space and time, going digital allows your business to grow green. Best of all, your entire fax system will be stored in the cloud, so it’s always safe yet accessible to you and your team.
How secure is online faxing?
Regardless of your field of work, your business operations must be kept secure. With traditional fax machines, that wasn’t always the case. They’re susceptible to hacking and human error and overall just aren’t built for modern business operations.
On the other hand, digital fax services offer advanced encryption, 24/7 security monitoring, permission control settings, and other features that help ensure security. Sending a fax online is much more secure than sending an email, which can be easily forged or hacked. Printed faxes are also vulnerable when left unattended, not to mention time-consuming to print out. As a final protective layer against prying eyes, you might opt for an online fax service that sends confirmation emails each time a fax is sent, allowing you to easily detect any suspicious activity.
On the whole, online faxing is one of the most secure forms of business communications out there. This safe communication system will put your mind at ease and allow your business to streamline operations. Now that you’re ready to sign up for an online fax service, we’ll guide you through our top picks.
Compare the best online fax
Best secure fax app for small business
HelloFax: Best for occasional business use
HelloFax is a service well-known for its free faxing. When it comes to online fax services, the most secure options with the most features are generally the ones you pay for. But HelloFax offers a more complete free version than most other services, making it a good option for businesses that send faxes only occasionally and want to keep costs low.
You’ll get five free outbound pages to start with, and after that, you’ll have to sign up for a paid plan. HelloFax repeatedly comes out on top for its clear fax quality and reliability, along with its user-friendly interface. The service also offers signature support and integration with cloud storage services.
One con of using HelloFax is that it doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app for faxing. It’s also not the best option for high-volume faxers, given that its tracking and indexing features are relatively bare-bones.
- Price: Free trial; $9.99/month for theHome Office plan; $19.99/month for the Professional plan; $39.99/month for the Small Business plan
RingCentral: Best for high-volume users
Another option is RingCentral Fax, which offers a modern web interface and a mobile application for user convenience. RingCentral Fax is a great option for businesses that regularly send faxes – the service supports large file attachments and offers lots of pages per month (although its subscription price is admittedly on the pricier side).
However, if you conduct international business or need a service with a built-in digital signature tool, RingCentral probably isn’t the best option for your business. This online fax service does offer toll-free and vanity fax numbers, though, and is a solid option for businesses that send hundreds of faxes a month.
- Price: free trial; $17.99/month for the Fax 1500 plan; $37.99/month for the RingCentral MVP (includes fax, phone, and video)
Also Read: Best RingCentral Alternatives
CocoFax: Best for secure faxing
CocoFax is a quick-to-set-up and easy-to-use alternative to the traditional fax machine. It’s also our top pick for the most secure online fax service. CocoFax is a HIPAA-compliant and Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS)-compliant solution that businesses can integrate with Google, Slack, Microsoft, and other applications. The service makes it easy to send faxes from email, Google, and Microsoft with any supported internet-enabled device.
With two-factor authentication and world-class data encryption protocols, you can trust CocoFax with your sensitive documents. Every fax you send is encrypted with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), even while in transit. CocoFax’s phone application even offers biometric security verification.
- Price: $7.99/month for the Lite plan; $12.99/month for the Basic plan, $19.99/month for the Premium plan, $29.99/month for the Business plan; contact for enterprise pricing. Yearly discounts are available.
Fax.Plus: Best basic service
A cost-effective online fax service, Fax.Plus offers multiple pricing tiers, so you’re sure to find a plan that suits your business needs. It’s a good option if your business only needs to send faxes every now and then, and it’s also HIPAA-compliant.
Fax.Plus’s mobile app offers a document signing tool that’s unfortunately conspicuously absent from its web platform. The service also doesn’t support cover pages. But if you’re looking for a useful mobile app and website that doesn’t have a steep learning curve, Fax.Plus could be the best option for your business.
To test out Fax.Plus before committing to the service, you can also make use of the company’s free 10-page trial.
- Price: Free trial; $5.99/month for the Basic plan; $11.99/month for the Premium plan; $19.99/month for the Business plan; $59.99/month for the Enterprise plan. Yearly discounts are available.
MetroFax: Best budget option
With low monthly prices starting at $9.95, it’s worth considering MetroFax when browsing secure online fax services. If you sign up for an extended period of time, you’ll save big on your subscription cost. Opting in for the lowest paid plan, you’ll also enjoy access to all of the same features found in higher-paid tiers.
MetroFax can support more than 50 different file formats, from familiar options like PDF to more dated extensions. It’s a good option if you need to send items in with an uncommon file format. However, some users consider its web interface dated, and fax quality issues have been reported.
MetroFax is also missing some of the key features we’d expect from high-volume professional fax services, including digital signatures, international fax numbers, and two-factor authentication. But if your business wants to get the most bang for its buck, MetroFax could be a good, budget-friendly choice.
- Price: $9.95/month for the Essential plan, $12.95/month for the Best Value plan; $35.95/month for the Professional plan. Yearly discounts are available.
SRFax: Best value for your money
A clean design and plenty of customizable settings are two of SRFax’s main features. If you require simple, basic faxing services, SRFax is more than up to the task, with monthly plans starting at 25 pages. That makes it perfect to handle your low-volume business faxes, and SRFax is certainly a big step up from a free service. It’s also an affordable option for sending HIPAA-compliant faxes, although you’ll need to pay a bit more to have access to that feature.
Unfortunately, adding cover pages is no easy feat with SRFax. If you want to perform text searching, you’ll need to pay extra. And there’s no dedicated mobile app, which could be a major drawback in today’s increasingly mobile world.
An annual plan with SRFax costs relatively little, making it our best value for price. You won’t find the bells and whistles offered by other online fax services, but it comes with all the essentials necessary to get the job done.
- Price: Free trial; $3.29/month for the Basic plan; $6.95/month for the Basic Plus plan; $9.95/month for the Standard Lite plan. Annual discounts are available. (Note: HIPAA-compliant fax plans are priced differently.)
Choosing the best secure fax solution for your business
To make the best decision for your business, you should first list out your must-have features and then begin exploring the best secure online fax providers on the market. Whether you’re a healthcare facility seeking HIPAA-compliant software or a small business looking to streamline operations by incorporating third-party integrations, there’s a service out there for you.
Some businesses need to send one fax online a day while others need to send 100, but the versatility and flexibility of an online fax service will meet your needs better than any clunky fax machine ever could. Interested in scaling your business? Need to send a fax on the go? Looking to cut back on operational costs? It’s all in the palm of your hands when you sign up for an online fax service.
Online faxes are the way of the future. The sooner your small business can adapt to these communication shifts, the better you’ll set yourself up for future success.