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The Best Online Fax Services of 2020

By
Andrew Martins
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Feb 20, 2020
Image Credit: junce / Getty Images
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Update: We've updated this page to highlight the possible impact of the California Consumer Privacy Act on online fax services.

When it comes to sending messages between businesses, it's easy to immediately imagine a scenario where that communication is done via email. Email is fast, reliable, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a professional today that doesn't use it in some capacity. However, for many companies, email has too many ways where sensitive data can fall into the wrong hands. If securely sending sensitive data is important to your small business, you may want to consider a form of technology that may seem dated in 2020 – faxing.

To be clear, we're not talking about the faxing methods of 10 to 20 years ago that require a dedicated piece of office equipment and a separate telephone line. Faxing may seem like it should have gone the way of Betamax tapes and Pogs, online faxing (also known as cloud faxing), though, is a modern take on the communication method that lets users send, receive and store faxes in a central location on the internet. For either a per-fax charge or a monthly subscription fee, users can access their messages through a single username and password online. With no need for paper waste or ink costs, online faxing may be a strong messaging solution for small businesses.

After extensive research into the online fax industry, the following is a rundown of the best online faxing services and the features they offer your small business.

Best Picks

Reviews

Here are all of our reviews of online fax services and fax software that can digitize your faxing needs and eliminate the need for a physical office fax machine.

Pricing

Most online fax services charge a monthly subscription fee for a specified number of sent and/or received faxes, as well as an overage fee for each page that exceeds the monthly limit specified in your plan. Some online fax providers charge setup fees. These are rare, but they exist and can cost upward of $10.

In our research, we found monthly fees that ranged from $3 to $50 per month, depending on the volume of faxes you expect to send and receive. Some online fax services charge separately for sent and received faxes. Some vendors offer corporate packages for businesses that send a high volume of faxes. In each of our reviews, we've listed pricing for the service. We also recommend that you ask the fax service provider(s) you're considering about its cost, including any additional fees that may apply.

 

What to Expect in 2020

The concept of faxing may seem antiquated by today's standards, but market experts anticipate 2020 will continue an ongoing trend of growth in the cloud faxing industry that's expected to last into 2025. Reports also suggest the global online fax market will grow to over $2.4 billion by 2022.

According to researchers at Advance Market Analytics, the global cloud fax market is anticipated to grow by "9.16% by 2024." They largely attribute this increase to the influx of small and medium enterprises consistently adopting the technology because of its "cost effective faxing solution and technological advancement." As more companies expand into international markets, faxing over the internet is even more appealing, since larger faxes can be sent much more quickly than through traditional means.

In addition to continued market growth, the online faxing industry will likely continue to be the subject of legislative scrutiny, as governmental bodies around the world regulate and secure various facets of the internet.

Regulations like the Junk Fax Prevention Act from 2005 were just the start of governmental oversight for online faxing. Continued HIPAA regulations for companies in the healthcare sector, as well as data privacy laws like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will have a continued effect on online faxing. In the coming years, expect companies like J2 Global to continue pushing for higher data security and privacy standards to meet regulations and potentially head legislators off at the pass.

Our Methodology

We researched several online faxing vendors, including their plans and features. We began by compiling a list of vendors. In addition to the service providers we were already familiar with, we added vendors we found in our research, those that regularly appeared on other reputable online lists and reviews, and companies that reached out to us asking to be considered for review.

Next, we went to each vendor's website, noting their features and pricing structures. When available, we took advantage of trial periods, watched product demos and tutorials, and sent sample faxes to gain firsthand experience of the service. We eliminated companies whose plans contained lots of hidden fees and/or that charged exorbitant over-limit fees.

For the next phase of our research, we reached out to our finalists, posing as a potential customer. We posed a series of questions to customer service reps from each company, noting the quality of service we received.

To arrive at our final determination, we considered which companies offered the best balance of affordability, robust features and ease of use. Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each online fax software provider:

  • Pricing structure. We looked for faxing services that offered a variety of plans, making them accessible to businesses with a range of faxing needs and budgets.
  • Fax limits and overage fees. In nearly every instance, vendors offer multiple plans with different limits regarding the numbers of pages a user can send or receive. The higher the service tier, the more frequently faxes can be transmitted. Along with the page limit, nearly every company charges an overage fee if more faxes are sent or received than the number allotted in the plan.
  • Features. We specifically looked for features that make it easier to send and receive faxes, such as scheduled delivery, electronic signature, the ability to edit documents, the option of sending faxes to multiple recipients simultaneously and integration with modern software suites.
  • International and toll-free faxing. Around the world, faxes are still used. Some fax services will sell you a fax number in a foreign country; most services, though, let you send international faxes for a small fee. Many services offer toll-free faxing, which is an added bonus for your clients and customers if you frequently fax documents back and forth.
  • Mobile access. Most business people never go anywhere without their cellphones. We sought out services that either offer their own mobile app or allow users to send and receive faxes through a web browser.
  • Ease of use. In addition to convenient features and fair pricing, we prized services that had an simple, intuitive interface. We relied on product demos and trial versions to determine how easy it was to send and receive a fax.

One major trend in the online faxing industry is consolidation. J2 Global has acquired more than a dozen online fax brands. During our research, we came across numerous consumer complaints about unfair billing practices, poor customer service and almost scam-like practices, which have led to J2 Global and its holdings receiving an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. Customers report similar problems on Consumer Affairs and the Complaints Board.

While some of these subsidiary companies are listed below on our vendor's list, in each case, we have noted their parent company and eliminated them from consideration as a best pick.

If you're considering using one of these services, carefully research whether or not the company is the best option for your business.

 

State of the Industry

Faxing may seem like a relic of past office technology, but the online fax industry shows considerable signs of growth. Offering a more efficient way of sending and receiving documents than its analog counterpart, online digital faxing is cheaper, more convenient and better for the environment.

According to a report from Arizton, the global online fax market is estimated to grow to over $2.4 billion by 2022. The report pointed to "the advancement in technology and flexibility provided by online fax vendors [to] enable organizations to automate their fax solutions" as a "major driver for the growth of the market." That value is driven by the obvious factors that drive most digitization: increased efficiency, reduced expenditures, scalability through a SaaS model and superior service.

Adoption will continue to be focused primarily in the North American and European markets, where data privacy regulations and continued innovation are high priorities. The largest contributor to the industry's growth is expected to be the healthcare industry, which thanks to federal regulations like HIPAA, are required to transmit patient records via fax for security reasons.

Since fax service providers bolster security through encryption, provide speedy transmissions, digitally store files, reduce an organization's paper use, and decrease maintenance costs, more small businesses are likely to continue switching to digital faxing solutions.

Consolidation has already begun and is poised to continue in what remains a crowded and competitive industry. As leaders emerge, it is likely the industry will continue to consolidate, driving the growth of a few prominent companies.

Faxing Regulations

Along with the aforementioned HIPAA laws, the U.S. government has imposed other regulations on faxing. In 2005, the Junk Fax Prevention Act was signed into law to end the proliferation of unsolicited "junk faxes."

Signed into law by President George W. Bush, the legislation sets strict fines and other penalties from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These penalties start at $500 for each page sent without following strict guidelines.

There are some cases, however, when sending "junk faxes" is acceptable:

  • You receive the number as part of a contract or application.
  • You find the contact information on an advertisement or directory, assuming it does not state that the contact won't accept unsolicited faxes.
  • You have ensured that the person you're faxing agreed to have their information listed on the directory or advertisement.

If the above criteria are met, you can send unsolicited faxes without penalty. However, you must give recipients a way to opt out of receiving future faxes. The notice must include your contact information on the first page of any documents you send, and you must reply within 30 days of receiving a request to opt out. Fax laws vary by location – understand the laws in your area before you start sending faxes.

February 2020: In addition to existing HIPAA regulations, the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, online fax providers could be forced to make adjustments in the wake of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Having gone into effect at the start of the year, CCPA has been billed by government officials as California's version of GDPR. While both regulations focus on consumer data rights, companies would be remiss to imagine their compliance with the EU's law automatically puts them in compliance with CCPA. For instance, the latter regulation doesn't apply to companies that refrain from doing business in California. Given that online fax solutions operate over the internet, which has no inherent borders, companies will likely have to decide between restricting California fax numbers or being forced to change how customer data is protected, stored and deleted.