What Is Internet Fax?
by: Titus Hoskins
Internet Fax is simply using the Internet or your email system to send and receive faxes. Since it is web based, you can send your faxes anytime anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection and these days that's available just about everywhere.
You sign up with an Internet fax service provider to get your own fax number (local or toll free) which you use in the same manner as you would use any fax number. There is a small charge for this service but keep in mind you do not need an extra phone line to do Internet faxing since everything is done online.
Many small and large business owners are switching over to Internet Fax for some obvious advantages: it is very convenient, it is very fast, it offers more privacy, many faxes can be sent/received simultaneously (no busy signals) and it is available wherever you have the Internet. Plus there are no messy fax machines and no need for a second phone line.
One of the most asked questions about Internet Fax relates to the confusion over just how the whole thing works. Many traditional fax users can't quite get their heads around the idea of having faxes without the traditional fax machine.
Basically, you sign up with a fax service provider and get your own fax number and you send/receive your faxes thru your email system - your fax is attached to an email as either a TIFF or PDF format file. You can access your faxes from an online interface (your fax login site) where your faxes are received and sent. You can also store your faxes online there.
What confuses most people who are not familiar with online faxing is the question: can I still send my faxes to the old traditional machines, since many of my business partners may not be using Internet Fax?
The answer is YES!
You can send your faxes to the old traditional fax machine and if they have your fax number, they can still return a fax to you via the old traditional manner or fax machine.
Here’s how Internet Fax works
You use a fax gateway or Internet Fax provider/server to handle your faxes. For example, say if you were sending a fax:
Computer/Internet -> Fax provider/server -> Phone line -> Fax machine
You use your computer and the Internet to log into your online account/page to send your fax to your fax provider/server which then uses the phone line to send your fax to the receiving fax machine.
If you are receiving a fax:
Fax machine -> Phone line -> Fax provider/server -> Email message (thru Internet) -> Your Email account
Someone uses a fax machine to send you a fax which goes thru the phone line to your fax provider/server which converts it into a TIFF or PDF file and sends you an email message with your fax attached in your email.
If both parties are using Internet Fax, then your faxes can be sent/received using your email systems over the Internet:
Computer/email -> Fax provider/server -> Computer/email
What you really have to keep in mind, is that once you sign up for an Internet fax service you will have an online interface (login site) where you can send and receive your faxes. Then when you send or receive a fax, you get a confirmation in your web interface and/or by email.
This offers some great advantages such as receiving and sending your faxes whenever and wherever you access the Internet. No more busy signals, no more messy fax machines, no more nosy workers seeing the contents of your fax, and no extra phone line. Plus, many faxes can be sent/received simultaneously, even when your computer is turned off. No more missed faxes because your phone line was busy.
However, in order to get all these advantages you have to sign up for an Internet fax service. There are many well known Internet fax providers such as MyFax, eFax, RapidFax, TrustFax, Send2Fax... and some very good lesser known faxing companies such as MetroHiSpeed out of Seattle and Faxage out of Denver.
A word of caution: when signing up for any long term business service it pays to do your homework first. It pays to shop around mainly because even any small savings may prove significant over the long haul. Prices can range from very cheap (under $20 a year) to around $10 - $15 a month depending on the kind of service you need. There are many different plans and services, and keep in mind, you will pay more for International faxing.
Internet Fax seems to be the way of the future as more and more businesses go online. Besides, as we become more and more modernized, computers are offering us simple and convenient solutions to many of our daily traditional business tasks such as faxing. Can your business or any company really afford to be left behind or not take advantage of the benefits of Internet Fax? Can you still remain competitive without Internet Fax? It's your call.