Some regard the fax machine as a dying technology, and while most business is slowly but surely moving towards a paperless environment, there still exists a strong need for fax capabilities for a number of businesses. While the ability to send a fax via computer has existed since the advent of the modem, many computers stopped coming with pc/fax modem cards and don’t have a corporate server to send faxes from the various workstations on a network. For those who want an easy way to send faxes from their computers, look no further than email to fax functionality, which is a great way to send faxes from your computer or even your smartphone.
The first provider of the email-to-fax service we’ll look at is MetroFax (https://www.metrofax.com). The service is completely email-based, so sending and receiving faxes is accomplished easily via your standard email. Simply attach the document you wish you send, and the recipient fax machine receives it as if you sent it via fax. Receiving faxes is the same, with the document received as an email attachment. You can attach many common formats like Microsoft Office or Corel WordPerfect documents, or the defacto standard for cross-platform compatibility, Adobe Acrobat PDF. If you have a Windows PC, there are plug-ins available that allow you to print directly to the fax and include integration with Outlook. Your faxes arrive as PDF or TIF attachments, so viewing and storing them is easy. With no contracts, $12.95 a month allows you to send and receive a total of 1000 pages, which for most small businesses is plenty. Should your need extend beyond this limit; additional pages are 3 cents each. If you have an existing fax number, you can use it with MetroFax, and there are no long distance charges for fax within the US and Canada; a toll-free fax number option is also available. If you try out MetroFax, they give you your second month free, so there is a decent incentive to try out this service.
Another similar provider is Nextiva, whose service, vFax (https://www.nextiva.com/virtual-fax/virtual-fax-service-by-nextiva.html), offers the same basic functionality as MetroFax but adds a few features. You can use their online portal to send or receive faxes, which gives your account a centralized control panel in which you can keep track of what you’ve sent and received. If you pay monthly, the rate for 1,000 pages is $17.95, but if you opt to use their service for a year, you can pay up front and get each month’s service for 12.95; additional pages are 3 cents each. One different feature that Nextiva offers is the ability to use your fax machine in conjunction with the service, so that you can keep track of sent and received faxes via the online portal, but this requires an adapter for an extra charge. Nextiva also features printing directly from Microsoft Office programs, and it should be mentioned that they also offer a variety of other services related to telephony, so including vFax in one of their other packages might be a good option for your business.
FaxZero (https://www.faxzero.com) is another service that allows you to send and receive faxes online, but it is a free service. Of course, in exchange for that low price, your cover pages have ads for FaxZero, which might be a deal-breaker for some. You are also limited to two free faxes per day that can only consist of three pages max. If you only need to send the infrequent fax, this might work fine for you, but for the average business user, that might not be an option.
For those of you who need fax capabilities but don’t want the initial expense of a dedicated fax machine or separate fax line, the variety of fax to email services can fit the bill. While I’ve highlighted a few different options for sending and receiving faxes online, I’ve only scratched the surface. With my needs for cross platform compatibility, email to fax will work best for me, but will it fit your needs? If you are on a company network, most likely there are other options are available already. However, small business and home users can certainly take advantage of this technology, and whichever choice you make, conserving paper more than makes up for the price you pay, if any.