Faxing has been the backbone of the modern era ever since its release in the 1980s. People who try to modernize the current office spaces had struggled with replacing this incredible machine, mainly due to its many vital features. When it comes to sending important documents to your colleagues or people over at other organizations, faxing has been doing a great job – especially if there are lots of departments and tons of documents. It isn’t expensive, super easy to use and most of all – it can send copies of your handwritten documents or images. Despite all that, these features are currently being slowly replaced by modern scanners and email fax services. What are these email to fax services we speak of? Well, stick around to find out!
Even though the overall popularity of faxing has steadily decreased the last two decades, it is still being used heavily in some places such as banks and the government institutions. That is why there is the need to make faxes compatible with today’s technology, and more specifically – with email services. Nowadays, everybody is using instant messaging services. For that to be compatible with the old school methods, internet-based fax services have been implemented. That way, you aren’t shackled to a fax machine which only works over the phone line. What we got prepared for you here is a comparison review between three of what we think are the best online fax services today.
Before we move on to that, let’s give you a bit of insight on the matter.
What Exactly Is An Online Fax?
As we mentioned, traditional faxes have been long replaced by the much faster and easier online version. The easiest way for you to imagine the online faxing service is to think of it as an email client which is programmed to be able to communicate with regular fax machines. When getting a fax, it can go straight to your email address (as an attachment) as well as in your fax dashboard as a regular fax. From there, you can do whatever you like with it. That, on itself, saves the paper from printing each and every fax you receive when having a regular fax machine.
It isn’t always as simple, though. Often, you will encounter people who still have faxes and you will need to send them important documents. Not having a fax in that situation can be a real issue. Usually, FedEx offices offer faxing services to anyone, but that can take hours of from your day. Luckily for you, the companies that now offer online faxing capabilities are quite accessible. They perform quite well when it comes to the basic fax functions. Ironically, what is hard is to find a working fax that receives what you sent from the online client.
Sending An Email To A Fax Machine Number – Can You Do This?
The online fax providers we will be reviewing (eFax, HelloFax, RingCentral) allow you to send faxes as emails from your web mail client. Received faxes can be viewed in that same web client. It is, in our opinion, the best way to integrate faxing into the modern era. If you want to upgrade your office, this is a great step forward.
You can send an email to a fax machine from your computer, even scan files/pictures (with a scanner) and attach them to your email. Additionally, you can even take photos with your phone and attach them and they will appear as if they’ve been scanned by a physical machine.
When it comes to this transition from paper to digital faxing there isn’t really room for second thoughts when making it. Let’s list some of the online faxing features and advantages to back your choice up.
Advantages Of Using Online Faxing Clients
- First and foremost is the convenience of it all. You will be able to send faxes from any device which is connected to the internet (that includes smartphones and tablets). Many of the companies, such as eFax and Ringcentral offer smartphone apps for this, which we consider amazing.
- Costs – The cost of these online services is always lower than maintaining a phone line just for the faxing machine and there is no long-term involvement here.
- Flexibility – Many of the online platforms allow you to set up multiple receiving emails. That makes it easy in cases you want your whole team to receive faxes from a certain sender.
- Reliability – You will no longer rely on the sometimes busy phone line. Also, no more paper jams and out of paper errors.
- Security – your faxes will be encrypted with the highest levels of today’s technology (just as your emails do). Furthermore, you can point out the exact email you want your fax to be sent to. That removes the risk of sending sensitive faxes to shared fax machines.
- When going online, you will no longer print every junk fax or wrong faxes. You can just print the ones you want, which helps nature by reducing the waste of paper in modern offices.
Once you create your online fax account there will be a few things given to you. That includes a business fax number, which people can use to send documents to. You will also be able to send, receive and manage all your faxes from a dedicated online dashboard and get those to another email address.
If you already have an existing fax number, you can use that, instead of getting the randomly generated one which providers give you. Most of the services can give you a toll-free number, though. That means that people who send faxes to emails to you won’t have to pay for that.
Also, some providers (eFax) have image editors and tools which help you apply a digital signature. That is amazing when it comes to filling forms which must be sent through fax. eFax also has the option to add text on top of the document you will be sending, but we will dive deeper into features like that further down our review.
You can learn how to set up your online fax number with your Gmail here.
What You Need To Know About Fees
All the online fax providers charge you monthly. eFax are the only ones that charge you for installation (a setup fee). In return for that monthly fee you get a pool of pages you can use either to send or receive. eFax is an exception again, as they give you a monthly sending and receiving limit. Going over that limit (or the one of the whole pool) results in additional fees per page. The rates are usually a couple of cents per page.
In case of international faxes you will most likely pay additional fees (if those countries or regions aren’t included in your plan). Make sure to check the terms of service of your provider before sending a fax overseas.
Lastly, we want to give you some general idea of the market right now and share some numbers which you must have in mind when making your choice for your first online fax client.
Things To Keep Your Eyes Open For
We think that there is an average package of fees and costs around which most online fax providers resolve. Here are some things to consider:
- Most have a trial period of 30 days
- The charges are around 10 dollars per month, and anything above that can be considered expensive
- The pool of available pages is between 250 and 350
- There is rarely a startup fee (excluding eFax)
- All of the providers have 24/7 customer support line
- The above-limit rates are between 8 and 12 cents
- All of the providers give you sending and receiving abilities
Best Email Fax Suppliers Reviewed
What we want to do here is give you an objective look at what we think are the three best online fax providers. Of course, there will be tons of other companies we won’t even be mentioning which aren’t that bad at all, but when it comes to the best our choice pretty much narrows down to these three – eFax, HelloFax and RingCentral. There is no obvious winner in our opinion, but then again we aren’t here to pick one, but just to review them and leave that to you. Let’s kick things off with a quick comparison between them, shall we?
|Online Fax Service Features||eFax||RingCentral||HelloFax|
|Ease of Use||****||*****||*****|
|How Easy It is to Set Up||***||*****||*****|
|Number of Pages You Can Get||****||****||*****|
|Variety of Numbers Available||*****||***||***|
eFax Review – Is It As Good As People Say?
Most people have heard of eFax even without ever needing their services. That is how famous these guys are. Online fax services such as this one eliminate the clunky fax machines from the equation and let you do your job just with a few mouse clicks. They let you use their online services right from a dedicated portal. In case you want to use your own email client for sending and receiving of faxes you are free to do so. They work well with any client, especially Gmail. You can learn how to set things up with your Gmail here.
Their services can even be used to free (with some limitations). Perhaps the only negative factor which trumps most customers is the overall price. It is significantly higher than the market’s average, but we feel like this is justified considering what you get for your money. RingCentral and HelloFax offer similar features and an experience just as good for less money in case you are on a budget.
Now, before we go into some of the best features of this product, we want to briefly get into the pricing. There are three packages you can get here:
- eFax Plus
- eFax Pro
- eFax Corporate
It goes without saying that the third plan is for big companies only, whereas the first two are for freelancers and small businesses.
What separates those plans from each other is the number of pages you can send or receive. eFax Plus gets you 150 inbound and 150 outgoing faxes per month. The Pro version gives you 200 of each. Both these plans require an initial fee for setting your stuff up. Also, for every page above the given limit, you will be charged extra
Providers like HelloFax give you a total pool of pages which you can use both to send or receive. This is better for most people, as they mostly receive or send, and never do both equally much. For example, if you receive faxes only, you can use your total pool of pages for that. Great, isn’t it?
The main feature of eFax is that it lets you create and manage a fax number (or more than one) without having a phone line. You can choose between all sorts of area codes, so finding the appropriate number for you and your business won’t be an issue. There are also toll-free numbers and international numbers from more than 40 countries. This is something rare in the online fax world as not so many providers offer it.
Furthermore, you can convert your existing fax number avoiding any confusion among your customers. That requires a few days and you have to call them, but we didn’t find it as a particularly hard process.
Another feature is that you can request a voicemail for your fax number. When you have it, any voicemail sent to your number will be recorded and sent to you as an email (with an attached voice mail recording file).
Lastly, you can get your email hosted through eFax mail service – 123Mail.net. This is good for people who don’t have an existing account or want to create a new email just for their faxes.
Now, let’s lay out the advantages and disadvantages of eFax for you briefly:
- Top-Level Customer Service
- Quick and Easy Set-Up
- There is a Free limited version
- Local, international and toll-free available numbers
- Digital signatures & keyword tagging
- They charge you for the setup
- High Monthly Fees
- The online interface feels outdated
Final Words On eFax
Besides being a bit on the expensive side of things, it is still fairly easy to set it up. Once you do this, you will be able to send and receive faxes directly through the Gmail client if you want to. eFax will also offer you to use their mail hosting, which honestly isn’t that bad and people who have no experience with Gmail might opt for it, since things will be all at one place. It also gives you the option of adding a digital signature to your faxes, which the other two providers do not have. All in all, eFax is still one of the best and most reliable online fax services out there, but only if you are willing to swallow the bigger bill.
What makes the fax services of Ring Central unique is that they are cloud-based. They also brag about the level of security you get on your outgoing and incoming faxes. You can fax from all sorts of places, including:
- Email Clients
- Microsoft Office Applications
- Google Drive
- Your Smartphone
If that last “smartphone” bullet point got you excited you can check out our review on the topic here.
Faxes sent through your Ring Central account are first encrypted and sent over a secure web connection to their dedicated fax servers. From there the fax is transmitted to a public telephone network and gets to your recipient’s fax. If by some chance your recipient is also using RingCentral, the fax will just circle around the entirely secured inner connection.
The faxes you will get will arrive in your inbox as attachments to emails (as they do in the other two fax providers). This is when you want to check your faxes from your mail client. There is another place from where you can check them – the RingCentral account console. This is a nice feature since, in case something happens to your emails, you can always check them on the actual RingCentral account.
As with eFax, you can switch your already existing fax number over to RingCentral. The procedure takes up to a week here, but you will be given a temporary fax number so don’t worry about any downtime.
The numbers you get from RingCentral can be:
- Local number
- Toll-free number
- Vanity number
Unlike with eFax, setting up here is insanely easy. It happens in a matter of a few moments and everything is basically done for you. All you have to do is click the activation link from the confirmation email after your registration. Then an activation wizard will lead you through the process of setting up everything by your preferences.
The cloud-based technology offers a ton of advantages to you. For example, your faxes will be stored securely on their cloud servers, from where you will be able to access them from literally any device with internet access.
They perform their own backups so you won’t have to do that yourself and your information will be safely stored without you ever worrying about losing it.
In today’s world, cloud storage is a true advantage which makes your everyday life easier and work-life more productive.
With RingCentral, you got a couple of options for faxing. Here are some of them:
- Online – Send faxes from your RingCentral console.
- From The Email Client – Log into your Gmail (if that is your email client) and send the fax as a regular email, with the exceptions that the PDF document must be an attachment and the “To” field must be the number of the person you’re sending it to followed by the domain provided by RingCentral
- RingCentral Desktop App
- RingCentral Mobile App
- Office Application
Since its cloud-based and it works with Google Drive, you can select Drive documents to be faxed directly from there. All you have to do is download their Chrome Browser extension and you will be able to fax just about any document you open in your browser with just a few clicks.
Once again, everything you ever send or receive is stored in your account, so if you need a PDF of a document you once received, just log in to your account and it will be there.
Your options for viewing incoming faxes are:
- Check it from your mail client
- Check it from the RingCentral Desktop App
- Check it from the RingCentral Mobile App
- Check it from the RingCentral Online Console
So far it seems like a great deal right? Well, you’d love it, even more, when we tell you that their prices are lower than eFax and the page pools aren’t divided between sent/received faxes. Also, there is a 30 days trial period here as well and the interface looks great and is easy to navigate through. Let’s check the pros and cons now.
- Relatively cheap compared to others
- High level of security
- Your faxes get stored and backed up
- There are Mobile and Desktop Apps
- Not a huge choice of numbers (unlike eFax)
- Transferring of your own fax number takes up to 7 days
Final Words on RingCentral
When it comes to online fax services, RingCentral gets pretty close to being perfect. If they continue to grow as they have been growing until now, the future is surely bright for them. You will enjoy top-class support from their team, and the variety and flexibility of their apps will make you more mobile than ever.
HelloFax is perhaps the most modern-looking out of these three services. Their interface is slick and makes you feel as if the money you are paying is well worth it. That is also backed up by the quality of their services. Their interface is also easy to navigate through and sending emails from it is as easy as it gets. You can also configure it to be able to send emails from your own mail client.
The fact that HelloFax give you form-filling and digital signature features means that you can forget about all the hassle around printing and manually sending/signing documents.
As eFax, HelloFax has all sorts of tiers where the difference between all of them is the page pool you will be getting. Unlike eFax, though, you shouldn’t care about sending or receiving limits here, as they all share the same number. For example, if you get 300 pages with your basic plan, you can send or receive 300, to them it doesn’t matter. It’s not cut in half as with eFax.
Pricing-wise they are somewhere in the middle of all the other fax providers, but considering the quality you are getting, they are totally worth your money. Have in mind that sending pages over the given limit costs you extra (half of what eFax is charging you per extra page).
One amazing thing here is that you can send faxes to overseas numbers and this won’t cost you extra money. It is tricky, though. You will have a certain amount of pages deducted depending on the location, so keep that in mind when sending faxes to Kongo. There are countries which cost you the same as the US on the other hand. These are Canada, Austria, UK, and some others.
The support staff of HelloFax (zendesk support) is amazing and honestly, compared to all the other services, we think it’s the best.
Same as with eFax, HelloFax has a free faxing plan which is pretty restricted. For example, it gives you the option to send only five faxes, but if you complete tasks (like tweet about them) you can get 20 extra.
Signing up and setting things up is a breeze here. You can even use your Google or Microsoft accounts to do it. It also does not require a credit card upon registration.
- Beautiful easy to navigate through interface
- 5-star support
- Easy sign-up
- Easy setting up
- No Card required to sign up
- Great price compared to competition
- Limited amount of numbers offered
- High rates for some overseas faxes
- The Free Plan is really tightly restricted
Final Words on HelloFax
HelloFax dominates its competition by being the most modern-looking online fax service out there. It also gives you a free plan with fun challenges to earn extra pages. The customer support here is on another level, so if you think you’d need to contact your provider a lot, we’d suggest this one. The price isn’t to be overlooked either.
In the era of technology, we tried to see if online services have replaced the good old-fashioned fax machines. In short – yes, they have. The amount of dedication poured into those online fax companies is admirable and it serves its one and only purpose – to make your everyday life better and easier. We think that faxing isn’t dead, but just simply resurrected in the face of a more 21st century-like solution.