Cloud technology and the Internet are changing the business landscape in many ways, including how work is done.
According to a 2015 Gallup poll, telecommuting in the U.S. rose to 37 percent from 30 percent in the previous decade. An oft-cited 2009 Forrester report predicted that the U.S. telecommuting population would balloon to 63 million by 2016, a number that’s equivalent to 43 percent of U.S. workers.
Which makes you wonder: If telecommuting is on the rise alongside the use of email, e-signatures, Dropbox and Google Docs, and other cloud-based communication and data storage software why are fax machines still popular?
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According to a Fast Company article quoting Ron Resnick of OrderSnapp:
- A lot of smaller, mom-and-pop shops don’t have access to the Internet
- Many business owners aren’t internet-savvy
- Others don’t have the technology, e.g., iPad, to receive orders on
- Older industries such as medical labs and law firms still regard the fax machine as reliable, efficient, and a secure way to communicate
- Others are already so used to the technology that switching to a newer one doesn’t interest them, especially considering their success rate with the fax machine
A 2machines.com article shares these findings:
- The fax machine is a business staple among nearly 100 percent of Japanese firms, largely because they want a paper trail of orders and shipments. Plus, revenues plummet when businesses fail to offer a fax number because consumers prefer to communicate their requests via fax.
- Fax machines in use are still plenty. In 2011 and 2012, according to Gartner, 35+ million fax machines were shipped worldwide.
Bottom line, their numbers may be dwindling but fax machines are still very much a thing.
For the bigger segment of the population that don’t have a fax machine, dislike the fax machine, or would rather not deal with a fax machine and everything else tied to it (busy phone lines, paper jams, and empty ink cartridges, for example), there’s online faxing software that lets you send and receive faxes without using an actual fax machine.
Here are seven examples, in no particular order:
eFax lets you send and receive faxes via email and a password-protected web interface. Because it’s online, faxing can be done anytime, anywhere, and on any device. No need to run back to the office or rush to the nearest Kinko’s to send an important, time-sensitive document.
Various file formats can be attached, including spreadsheets, presentations, documents, audio/video files, and high-resolution images. File attachments can go as large as 3GB at any given time.
eFax lets you store and retrieve your faxes 24/7 for the life of your account. An electronic signature feature also comes with it, along with a toll-free number and a mobile fax app for iOS and Android devices. Subscription starts at $16.95 per month, which includes 150 inbound and 150 outbound fax pages. A free 30-day trial is available.
Fax by email, multiple file type support, online portal, 24/7 fax access, Nextiva vFAX offers all these, too. What makes it different from other online fax services is the fax adapter it provides users who aren’t yet ready to part with their fax machines. The service also lets you keep your existing fax number if any. Nextiva vFAX subscriptions start at $4.95 per month, perhaps the cheapest in the industry. The package includes a more flexible fax page total of 500. A 30-day free trial is available. One downside to Nextiva vFAX is its lack of a mobile app.
eVoice is an integrated business communication solution that carries voicemail, call routing, auto receptionist, conferencing, online faxing, and transcription capabilities in one software. It offers subscribers the ability to choose phone words and smart numbers, also known as vanity numbers, so customers can easily remember the sequence of the numbers. The numbers can function as marketing tools as well.
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Just like eFax.com and Nextiva vFAX, eVoice’s online faxing feature lets you use email to send and receive faxes anytime, anywhere. Outbound fax, however, is a premium feature not included in the standard eVoice business phone subscription. You’ll have to enable it for an additional monthly fee. eVoice plans start at $12.99 per month. A free 30-day trial is offered.
GotFreeFax.com is a send-only faxing service that’s perfect for users with uncomplicated needs. You can send a maximum of two faxes containing up to three pages per fax per day to any number in the U.S. and Canada for free. If you need to send more, page credits that never expire can be bought via PayPal starting at $0.98 for 10 pages. 1,000 pages cost $49.95. Faxes are sent using the online portal.
Should you need to send faxes outside the U.S. and Canada, an international fax service is available on a pay-per-use basis. Payments for which are also made via PayPal.
RingCentral is a multi-featured phone system that covers a host of business communication processes: cloud PBX, call recording, call forwarding, online meetings, video conferencing, business SMS and auto receptionist.
RingCentral’s Internet faxing system integrates with services like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, allowing you to quickly attach files and documents to your fax messages. RingCentral’s integration with Microsoft Office, on the other hand, lets users easily send and receive faxes via email or any Windows application.
Fax alerts are sent to your mobile phone, and a configurable online account lets you view your fax logs on demand, either via the web or the RingCentral mobile app. Subscription starts at $7.99 per month, which includes a total of 500 fax pages. Additional fax numbers cost $4.99 each per month. A free 30-day trial is offered.
GreenFax supports both incoming and outgoing faxes. It lets you choose a dedicated fax number in your chosen area code and supports multiple file types such as PDF, HTML, MS Word, TXT, RTF, and more. Faxes can be accessed via email or the online portal. Depending on your settings, fax messages can be stored for as long as your account exists or for a shorter timeframe. The service has auto-resend features, and international fax transmissions are billed on a per-minute basis.
GreenFax offers varying pricing and service plans to appeal to various business needs, starting at $12.95 per month. A pay-as-you-go send-only plan is also available for as low as $10. A developer API is offered should you prefer to send and receive faxes from your application. A free trial, however, is not available.
MetroFax is an online faxing solution created for both small businesses and large organizations. It lets you keep your existing phone number, and allows you to choose a toll-free number or a local number in the U.S. and Canada. International faxes to 170+ countries can be sent at competitive rates.
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MetroFax offers three pricing plans: Essential, Value, and Professional priced at $7.95, $12.95, and $35.95 per month, respectively. Included in the plans are a total 500, 1,000, and 2,500 inbound and outbound fax pages that can be used in any combination. Additional pages are pegged at $0.03 per page, similar to the overage fee per page charged by Nextiva vFAX.
What other online faxing solutions can you add?