Faxing is a telephone-based type of communication, with a lot of history to it. At its core, faxing consists in transmitting text or images to a phone number that is connected to a printer.
When was fax invented?
Faxing is short from ‘facsimile’ and is not the newest technology out there. The first fax machines, which were quite primitive, were invented in 1843, by Alexander Bain, a Scottish inventor, who came up with the technology of sending content through a wire. However, his fax machine went through severe transformations and improvements, in order to become what it is today.
The first commercial telefax service was invented only in 1865 (but that was still 11 years ahead of the telephone) and only at the beginning of the 20th century, faxing started to go more modern: wireless, color and 3D.
But technology advances at a staggering pace and it was only logical for traditional faxing to slowly decline, as newer faxing alternatives started to emerge. That doesn’t mean that faxing isn’t used anymore, it is just mostly used through internet faxing services. Faxing is still essential in a lot of businesses and for a lot of purposes, such as for legal contracts and other types of documents.
Online faxing is also referred to as online faxing or e-faxing and it is a newer faxing technology based on the internet.
Internet faxing consists in transmitting faxes over the internet, instead of using traditional landlines. Online faxes can be sent/received with or without the use of an actual fax machine, which is one of the main advantages of internet faxing.
How does online faxing work?
In order to be able to send faxes through the internet, you have to sign up for an online faxing service. The first step is to make a subscription to a service of your choice. When you do that, you will receive a fax number from the provider. The number can be either toll-free or just a regular number.
The next step is to attach the document you want to fax to an e-mail. It can be either a text or an image. Most online faxing services support all the common file formats, such as Microsoft Word, PDF, TXT, RTF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF and others. You can also use most of the web browsers to do it, such as Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.
The fax you send can be sent to someone who has or hasn’t got a fax machine. You just need the recipient’s fax number followed by the name of the fax service and you hit ‘send’.
Once the fax is received, you get a confirmation delivery on your email. You can also opt for SMS alerts and other types of notifications.
You can also use your mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) as a ‘virtual fax machine’, as most online fax services also offer a mobile app.
The advantages of online faxing
One of the most important advantages of internet faxing is the fact that it allows you to send faxes even if you don’t have a fax machine. It also goes both ways and it allows you to use your traditional fax machine to receive faxes, if you want to.
Another noteworthy advantage it has over traditional faxing is cost and effectiveness. Most standard fax machines are old and slow and they require a lot of care and maintenance. With internet faxing, the entire process is way simpler and faster, not to mention more affordable. Online services have packages that cost less than $10/month. With traditional faxing you have to buy paper, the fax machine itself, you need to constantly replace ink toners, not to mention the cost of the required phone line.
Internet faxing is a paperless service, which also means it is more environmentally friendly, because more trees will be saved. Research shows that paper production results in millions of trees being cut yearly.
Internet faxing is also flexible and can be used from anywhere in the world as long as you have a reliable internet connection to log into your account. Thus, online faxing is more convenient, as you can send your faxes on the go, even from your mobile phone.
One of the most popular concerns regarding internet faxing is security. A lot of people are still skeptical when it comes to internet use and fear data breaches and what not. It is important to know that internet faxing is really safe. Also, you should be aware of the fact that e-mail and online faxing don’t mean the same thing. When you sign up for an online faxing service, you are provided with a unique fax number. Also, the connections used for sending/receiving faxes over the internet are very secure. These faxing services use strong SSL encryption, password protection and e-mail alerts for confirmation.
Best online faxing services on the market
Nextiva vFax: This cloud-based online fax service supports over 20 file formats, works with conventional fax machines, includes fax notifications to e-mail for up to 6 people and has numbers for the entire US and Canada. This service has 3 plans available: single user, small business and business pro.
TrustFax. This online fax service is owned by J2 Global Communications and is one of the best cloud-based fax services you can find. It includes international faxing to more than 200 locations in the world, a 30-day free trial, supports all the major file formats and has a very user-friendly interface.
eFax. This is another great option for your faxing needs. While it is not the most affordable service in our lineup, eFax still has some strong features going in its favor. One of its biggest advantages is the fact that it has a mobile app. It is also a user-friendly service, easy to set up and use. It includes an electronic signature feature, it comes with 24/7 phone support and MS Office integration.
There is also the option to sign up for services that offer free plans. Here are some of the best ones.